Arts & Culture

‘Walls of Tehran’ panels to explore art, propaganda

2 min read

An afternoon panel in association with “Walls of Martyrdom” — a photography exhibit of Tehran’s propaganda murals by Ph.D. candidate in public policy Fotini Christia — will be held May 18 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS). Sponsored by the Weatherhead Center, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Office of the Provost, the event and exhibit (set to run May 18 through June 15 in the South Concourse Gallery of CGIS) are free and open to the public.

The first panel, titled “Murals and Martyrdom in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” will run from 1 to 3 p.m. Naghmeh Sohrabi, a lecturer in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, will chair this panel, which will include discussant Huchang Chehabi of the Department of International Relations at Boston University, and participants from Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Indiana University.

Professor Malik Mufti of the Department of Political Science at Tufts University will chair the second panel, titled “A Comparative Perspective of Martyrdom and Propaganda Art in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine.” Diana Allan, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Anthropology at Harvard, will serve as the discussant. Panel participants include Boston-based architect and photographer Rania Matar, who will speak on “Murals, Billboards, and the Aftermath of War in Lebanon.”

Christia’s photography exhibit (designed and curated by Ghazal Abbasy-Asbagh) is a selection of more than 130 images of Tehran’s murals taken over the summer of 2006 during her affiliation with the University of Tehran. About her visit to the city and the upcoming exhibit, Christia (who is also a Weatherhead Center Dissertation Completion Fellow) writes, “Though landscape stimulants competing for the visitor’s attention abound, none are more gripping than the city’s propaganda murals. As dominant fixtures of Tehran’s visual space, these state-sponsored murals are painted by artists close to the regime,” she said, adding, “Their sheer number and size, along with their powerful iconography and aesthetics, set me on a quest to systematically document them.”

The photos will be displayed both traditionally and in various forms. Some pictures, for instance, will be part of a 50-foot-long “cityscape” composition, while others will be printed on fabric and presented as part of a maze, or printed as large, double-sided silk banners and hung around the walls of the sunken courtyard of CGIS.