Art And Culture

'March of the Sun,' a Window to Iranian Deserts

One of Javadi's photos on displayOne of Javadi's photos on display

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA) is hosting an exhibition of 70 photographs by Mohammad Reza Javadi on the deserts of Iran.

The 'March of the Sun: Iran's Desert, Hub of Civilization' opened on August 30 and will run through November 11. In addition to Javadi's photographs, a number of works from the museum's treasure will be showcased at the exhibit, including Earth art (in which landscape and the work of art are inextricably linked) created by Iranian-Armenian painter and sculptor Marcos Grigorian (1925-2007), as well as paintings of painter, sketch artist and writer Parviz Kalantari (1931-2016) and poet and painter Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980).

At the opening ceremony, Majid Mollanorouzi, director of TMoCA and also head of visual arts department in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said the museum seeks to organize exhibitions with ontological themes and showcase Iranian culture and art with a contemporary understanding," Mehr News reported.

"When we look at Javadi's photos, it's the vastness, symmetry and repetition we encounter. This can be expected in typical Iranian art. Each year a new medium may be added to visual arts, but the expression is the same."

Ontological perspective and elemental approach are evident in all areas of Iranian arts, he said. Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality.

  Earth Element

"The theme of the current exhibition was supposed to be 'four elements' but later in the process, we realized it would be too large a project and opted for just the 'earth' element. An understanding of desert is a prerequisite to understanding the Iranian civilization. This exhibition will be of help in this regard," Mollanorouzi said.

The exhibition is planned to be held later in Geneva, New York and Vienna where the offices of the United Nations are located.

Poet and film maker Mohammad Reza Aslani, 72, who was also present at the opening ceremony said: "The desert sand is always in motion, but in his photos, Javadi has crystallized it in an orderly fashion that is both motionless and graceful."

Aslani referred to French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist and critic Roland Barthes (1915-1980), who defined a photograph as "a message without a code." Bathes raised the question: 'What is that which a photograph transmits? And gave the answer: "By definition the scene itself, literally reality."

"Javadi has tried to discover something in the desert. His momentary discovery has helped him create a new world. So his photos are a collection of artistic creativity, not a documented account of 'kavirs'," as deserts are called in Persian, Aslani said.

Researcher in architecture and urban development Mehdi Mojabi, 71, spoke about the holistic view of the photographs that "links us with various facets in our environment."

"When we speak of kavir, it is as if we are navigating in a time-space continuum with no beginning or end," Mojabi said.

About the exhibition, Javadi said: "The Project Kavir is the newest of our projects, which includes works created between 1984 and 2013. The current exhibition is a small window to the works."

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts is located on Northern Kargar Street, adjacent to Laleh Park.