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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to Screen Robert Adanto's Pearls on the Ocean Floor
Bad Girls série by Bahar Sabzevari.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Robert Adanto’s new documentary Pearls on the Ocean Floor features interviews with some of the most highly regarded Iranian female artists living and working in and outside the Islamic Republic, including Shadi Ghadirian, Shirin Neshat, Parastou Forouhar, Haleh Anvari, Sara Rahbar, Leila Pazooki, Afshan Ketabchi, Malekeh Nayiny, Bahar Sabzevari, Afsoon, Gohar Dashti, and Negar Ahkami. The film is screening Sunday, June 13th at 2:00pm in conjunction with Taravat Talepasand: Drawings , curated by Thien Lam.

The ubiquitous images of security forces cracking down on demonstrators in Iran garnered global media attention throughout the last twelve months. Last June all eyes were on the Islamic Republic of Iran as its citizens took to the streets to protest the results of a disputed election. Thirty years after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, a proud nation once again stood at a crossroads. The Green movement, built of a courageous populace seeking justice from an entrenched and imploding regime, continues to seek change in Iran, despite shockingly brutal government forces. As acclaimed artist-activist Shirin Neshat so aptly put it, “This is not an ideological war, like it was for those who demonstrated during the Islamic revolution of 1979, it is simply a loud and clear cry for basic human rights: freedom, democracy and justice… The silver lining — if there’s any — is that Iranians inside and outside of Iran have been united and mobilized. If this energy is suppressed, will we ever find the strength and hope to come back together as a nation to fight for democracy again?”

Recent events have revealed a story that has been eclipsed during the last thirty years of Iran’s history. There is no better time than the present to examine this fascinating nation and no better approach than through the visual imagery of female artists. It is women who have collectively bore the brunt of an oppressive regime and the bias of a western media that has repeatedly constructed one-dimensional images portraying them as humorless, repressed, second-class citizens in black chadors.

Robert Adanto’s Pearls on the Ocean Floor challenges this stereotype and caricature obscuring the vibrant and robust culture in Iran and its diaspora. Professor Hamid Dabashi recently wrote, “a much more patient reading of the visual and performing arts of this generation is needed before we know what in the world it is doing.” Indeed, as the younger generation invents a new identity for the 21st century, replacing the religious ideology and revolutionary fervor of the state’s credo, contradictions abound. Photographer Shadi Ghadirian explains that her work “touches upon our struggle to hold on to our parents’ and grandparents’ traditional values and practices while experiencing the benefits of modernity without getting caught up in its vices… Change is an inevitable process,” she says.

Facing issues of identity, gender, and social restrictions, the artists featured in “Pearls on the Ocean Floor” speak with a compelling quiet reserve and a striking boldness. Their work reveals encounters between religion and secular modernity, change and tradition, contemporary life and history. These brave women know now more than ever that their voices must be heard and their people understood. Through their words and their art, the real Iran will be discovered and this important historical moment has been documented.

Robert Adanto’s debut feature-length documentary film, The Rising Tide, explored China’s meteoric march toward the future through the work of some of the Middle Kingdom’s most talented photographers and video artists, including Wang Qingsong, Cao Fei, Xu Zhen, Yang Yong, Chen Qiulin and O Zhang. Shot in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen in the summer of 2006, this unflinching and incisive study captures the confusion and ambiguity that characterize the new China. “An often surprising and thought-provoking documentary,” wrote WICN’s Mark Lynch, “The rest of us better make an effort to grasp what their work is about, or get out of the way. An “eye-opener” in every sense of the word, if you are an artist, curator or art teacher be sure to catch this film.”

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts | Robert Adanto | "earls on the Ocean Floor" |


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May 23, 2010

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May 20, 2010

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