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Photographs and Film
Abbas Kiarostami

November 3, 2007 - January 18, 2008
Exhibition Opening and Museum Open House: November 3, 2007 at 11:00am-5:00pm

Abbas Kiarostami
Untitled from the Roads series, 1978-2003

“Contemplating the cloudy sky and the massive trunk of a tree under a magical light is difficult when one is alone. Not being able to feel the pleasure of seeing a magnificent landscape with someone else is a form of torture. That is why I started taking photographs. I wanted somehow to eternalize those moments of passion and pain.”
–Abbas Kiarostami


Though Abbas Kiarostami is renowned for his award-winning films, and has been largely responsible for the high profile of Iranian cinema in the past decade; alongside filmmaking, he has sustained a remarkable practice of still photography for nearly thirty years.

Kiarostami started taking photographs in 1978 during excursions into the countryside around Tehran. At first, Kiarostami didn't intend to take photos, let alone exhibit them. "When I went into nature, the beauty and sublimity of what I encountered was too unbearable to leave alone," says Kiarostami. "I bought a camera and started taking pictures. I always stored the pictures in a box, not intending to show them publicly. But 10 to 15 years ago, I decided to exhibit them." Since then he has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions and produced four main photographic series: Roads (1978-2003), Snow (1978-2003), Trees and Crows (2006) and Rain (2006-2007) and four video projections: Sleepers (2001), Ten Minutes Older (2003), Summer Afternoon (2006), and Rug (2006).

In his photography, Kiarostami sets out to distill a scene down to its simplest, lyrical essence. He has said that he regards photography as a purer medium than film, since it is relieved of the burden of narrative or entertainment. In Snow, his gorgeous black-and-white photographs explore the single motif of trees in snow and on the patterns formed by the shadows of trees in the stark white surface of snow. The result is harsh, graphic, abstract and sublime. Each image is suggestive of an emotional state, recalling the way clouds functioned for Alfred Steiglitz in his Equivalents series of the 1920s. The shadows and snowdrifts contribute to the breakdown of a sense of scale and perspective. An atmosphere of solitude and meditation is evoked. The images become the equivalent of emotional states and the trees almost human, echoing the saying of the Islamic mystic Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi (born 1165 - died 1240): 'the tree is the sister of man'.

"For many years," Kiarostami writes in an essay about his photos, "I would escape from the city, and indeed feel much better. Observing was a sedative for me." In interviews, he marks his evolution away from the more personal and political statements he made in the years that coincided with the revolution — the films Report and Case No. 1, Case No. 2 — as being of a piece with his discovery of landscape photography.

Roads and Trees includes photos of trees and winding roads cutting dream-like through the rugged Iranian countryside. Another series of photographs focuses on images glimpsed through the rain-spotted windshield of a car, transforming passing trees and other vehicles into abstract ghosts. In the documentary Roads of Kiarostami (2005), he notes that roads serve as a metaphor both in Persian poetry and in Japanese haiku, where they signify life itself.

In the series Trees and Crows, crows walk amongst imposing, sometimes severely cropped tree trunks in elegant palace grounds - the only disturbing element in a perfectly serene and linear order. The very long lifespan of crows, in the eyes of Kiarostami, makes them the silent witnesses to the turbulent history of modern Iran. This exhibition is presented with the assistance of the Iranian Art Foundation, New York.
Abbas Kiarostami Trees & Crows Series
Untitled from the Trees & Crows Series

EXHIBITION PROGRAM

January 9, 2008 at 7:00pm
“Iran in Regional and International Context”
Dr. Asbed Kutchikain, Professor, Department of Political Science, Florida State University (FSU) and Talinn Grigor, Professor, Department of Art History, FSU.

THE FILMS OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI
FREE WEDNESDAY FILM SCREENINGS
at 7:00pm
November 7 - Close-Up (Nema-yeNazdik), 1990
November 14 - Life and Nothing More (Zendegi edame darad), 1992
November 28 - Through the Olive Trees (Zir-ederakthan-ezeytoun), 1994
December 5 - Taste of Cherry (Tam’e Guilass), 1997
January 16 - The Wind Will Carry Us (Baadmara khahad bord), 1999
January 30 - ABC Africa, 2001

Abbas Kiarostami Rain Series Abbas Kiarostami Snow Series Abbas Kiarostami Roads Series
Untitled from the Rain series, 2006-2007
Untitled from the Snow Series,1978-2003
Untitled from the Roads series, 1978-2003
 
Installation Images:
Abbas Kiarostami Exhibition Installation Abbas Kiarostami Exhibition Installation Abbas Kiarostami Exhibition Installation

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