Art And Culture

Nelson Mandela Int’l Poster Exhibit Opens in Tehran

Nelson Mandela Int’l Poster Exhibit Opens in TehranNelson Mandela Int’l Poster Exhibit Opens in Tehran

The Iranian Artists’ Forum (IAF) in Tehran is holding an international poster exhibition titled ‘Nelson Mandela: The Liberty Pigeon’ on the first death anniversary (December 5) of the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist.

The opening ceremony of the exhibition, held at the forum’s Ostad Jalil Shahnaz Hall was host to a number of local and foreign officials as well as artists including South African Counselor in Iran Ahmad Samaai, United Nations Resident Coordinator Gary Lewis, director general of the Arab African Countries in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Valiolah Mohamadi, veteran graphic designer Ebrahim Haghighi, and other dignitaries from the embassies of France and Liberia.

 Artist in Politics

Pointing to the international exhibitions organized in the previous years, IAF president Majid Sarsangi said the poster exhibition on Mandela, is part of the forum’s policy to host international exhibitions. The earlier exhibitions included ‘Japan Earthquake’ and ‘Somalia Hunger’ held in the past two years.

Defining art as “breaking the routine rules,” Sarsangi called Mandela an artist in politics since he substituted revenge with forgiveness after coming into power. “It is one of the virtues only great people can possess. Iranians are fully aware of what ‘forgiveness’ means as it is one of the attributes of the Almighty God. It is also clearly seen in the behavior of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and our Imams. Forgiveness has been used in Persian poetry abundantly as well,” he added.

Sarsangi also noted that Mandela came to Iran,  one of his first foreign trips after being released from prison, nearly 20 years ago at the official invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and held meetings with  Dr. Mostafa Moeen, who was head of    the University of Tehran at that time.

Gary Lewis said Mandela was an accomplished leader. “His capacity to forsee was significant; he could rise above the tortuous politics of his time and see a vision of a post-racial future. Another point was his ability to inspire people. What he made people reflect upon was how a man who spent more than 27 years of his life in prison could be so compassionate and forgiving towards those who used to be his enemies.”

 Guided Others in the Dark

Ebrahim Haghighi also spoke briefly on the title of the exhibition ‘Liberty Pigeon’. He said, “the white pigeon and the olive branch symbolize peace; however, Mandela was not white, he was a black pigeon who brought peace to his people. He was like a bright star who guided others in the dark period of his time.”

This event has been the only one of its kind since Mandela’s death. Following the call for ‘poster design for Nelson Mandela’ on December 5 last year, coinciding with the day the South African leader passed away, 422 posters by 342 designers from 22 countries were submitted to the exhibition secretariat. Of these, 76 designs by 63 artists were selected by a panel comprising one American and two Swiss jurors to be showcased at the exhibition.

In the second round of the evaluation, 8 works were selected as the referees’ top picks and among them 3 winners were chosen. Arber Kolonja from Macedonia got the first prize, Marlena Buczek Smith from the United States, was ranked second, and Jerome Rebiere-Desveaux from France received the third prize. Behnam Raeesian, Elahe Abiat, Emran Abdolahi, Farnaz Damnabi and Reyhane Alaei from Iran were the other awardees of the contest.

After years of resistance against apartheid rule in South Africa, Mandela was arrested in 1962. He was sentenced to life in prison, where he served over 27 years. He spent many of those years on Robben Island. After his release in 1990, Mandela served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. In South Africa, Mandela is fondly known as Madiba, his clan name which is used as a sign of respect and affection.

The poster exhibition will run until December 12 in the ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ halls of the forum located on North Mousavi St., Taleghani Ave, Tehran.