Code: 39965 A

TEHRAN. (Iranart) – Iranian artists insist that critics who target art day in day out should likewise take a good look at their own fields and critique them as well.

One - Any time Iran Art publishes its concerns about threats to art, a reader named Ziba comments something like this: “So far so good. It shows art still has some influence, which is why pressure groups take a stance against it and even threaten it.”

Also, another reader commented recently: “What have you done for the art and the artists that still demand so much from them? These kinds of attacks are fine. They show how hard it is to work under pressure and restrictions.”

Then again, the rest of the artistic world are not that cool after all. Their blood pressures jump through the roof whenever they read our disturbing news.

Many would very much like to tell the world that their complaints must be heard; that art is at the receiving end of these pressures and restrictions. Unlike the economic issues, there is too much sensitivity and pressure directed toward the art world. No wonder there are now so many cases of corruption and embezzlement at the courts.

Iranian artists insist that critics who target art day in day out should likewise take a good look at their own fields and critique them as well.

Two - In favourable conditions, a play in a month could have some 9,000 audiences. This is while the number of those visiting a visual art exhibition is one-tenth of that. However, the moment the headlines read “Wig” or “Teaser” half of the 70 million population suddenly wants to know what is going on in the Iranian theatre?

There are some good plays to see these days. However, most of the time authorities want to know in which play there have been bad jokes, or which gallery has put on display out of the ordinary paintings. The question is this: How come they never bother to caution or criticize use in private?!

Three - The Iran Daily newspaper’s Monday headline reads: “Cultural Figures Take Over Theatre”. This has come as a direct consequence of critics’ attacks on plays with social themes in recent years. That perfectly explains why many directors prefer to go for the themes that have Western scripts, or plays that are mediocre and ludicrous. They had to, lest they would be labelled and criticized as “fakes”.

Nowadays, theatre directors are no longer being labelled and the question is how come their plays are still mediocre and ludicrous!!

When a serious play with a social theme is rejected, what else do you think it would be replaced with?!

Playwrights like Alireza Naderi are no longer allowed to write and others like Hamidreza Azarang say, “I don’t want to write!”

In Azarang’s words: My hands hurt and my back is broken. I got 20 years older after writing my plays. I had to sit before so many people to tell them what they were all about. I will tell you one day what they did to me. Others will do the same. The script was re-written 11 times for Two Litres Per Two Litres. The opening night schedule had to change several times because some authorities didn’t like it for personal reasons. It’s a shame that my play had no time and location. However, authorities still forced me to change its time and location too, because they were afraid. I changed it so much that it takes place during the Dark Ages.

The same happened to my play Train. It took me 8 months to finish it. It was hard work. I got serious pain in my neck. After I sent it for evaluation, someone wrote on its page 40: “Here the play should end.” Then he crossed the remaining pages until 100 with a red marker.

Four - Here is my summation. We now know full well that in their second terms all governments censor art and artist. This time, please don’t be that harsh. Just like ordinary citizens, many artists are struggling to make ends meet. It is wrong to play with their minds and souls. Just like any other profession, artists will make mistakes too. It’s not that hard to correct them in private. All the fuss about their mistakes will only disturb the restful society. The time is now to lay off the artistic society.

This piece was published by the Iran Daily newspaper today on last page.

Hossein Hashempoor
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