Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I am trembling with cold—
I want to feel nothing!
But the sky dances with gold—
It orders me to sing.

Osip Mandelstam


Before you celebrate the NEW YEAR tonight, revive your conscience and think about those who died in the treacherous war games!...and ask WHY?

"Death" by: Harold Pinter

Where was the dead body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?

Who was the dead body?

Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?

Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?

Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?

What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the dead body was dead?

Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body

Denouncing the Bloodiest Israeli attack on Gaza Strip

Dov Khenin, Israeli lawmaker,member of the left-wing Hadash party (a Jewish-Arab party also known as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), and Jonathan Ben-Artzi, Israeli conscientious objector, denouncing the bloodiest attack on Gaza Strip. Jonathan also happens to be the nephew of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Read or Listen to Democracy Now

Jerome Murat

Enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Harold Pinter: Art, Truth & Politics

"It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US." More...

Harold Pinter died at the age of 78

Towards the end of his life, Pinter became, if anything, more politicised. His outrage over the conflict in Iraq saw him attending Stop The War Coalition rallies and denouncing Bush and Blair in his Nobel acceptance speech

Harold Pinter's Nobel Lecture was pre-recorded, and shown on video on 7 December 2005, in Börssalen at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm.
Below, read his full lecture.

In 1958 I wrote the following:
'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.'
I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?
Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.

Read more
Read some of his poems.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Miya Rodolfo-Sioson, the quiet Strength

Picture by the courtesy of "Miya of the Quiet Strength" website

On November 1st, 1991, physics graduate student Lu Gang went on a shooting rampage, killing five and injuring Miya Rodolfo-Sioson before turning the gun on himself. The shooting left Miya paralyzed from the neck down.

I was studying theatre at the University of Iowa at that time. I wrote a play about the event from Lu Gang's perspective entitled "Mad as the Blood Sound", where Miya has a short but strong role in it... I went to see Miya in her house, where she was surrounded by her friends. I talked with her for half an hour...and she said with a profound humane voice : "I'm not angry at him anymore"...She asked me if I can leave my play for her to read ... I left it with her, fearing if the play would revive the painful memory and make her uneasy, disquiet... I walked home...profoundly moved...profoundly touched and effected by her transcendental soul, by her deep understanding of human situation...wanted so urgently to write about her... wanted crucially to remind myself of someone who is not the same as the others...and whose life is an eternal poem of our time...
A few days ago I found out that she has lost her battle with cancer. She touched many lives over the course of her lifetime.

She will be always in our mind.
See the video on Miya Rodolfo- Sioson, the quiet Strength

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Review on My Play: My Name is Inanna

This review was published in Affect:acuity

Award-Winning Iranian Authors Read in Noho

She was arrested, pushed to the ground, humiliated and taken into custody for attending an anti-war rally? Did she do anything wrong? Nothing. Was she given a phone call? No.

Sitting in silence, Goushegir’s audience listened intently as she read from her one-act play, “My Name is Inanna,” a story not uncommon to middle-eastern people living in the United States. This is one of many stories, Iranian exile, playwright, Ezzat Goushegir was born to tell.

Captive, her audience sits on stools, at the bar, even cross-legged on the floor of the KGB Bar in Noho last night, silently watching Goushegir reveal how a courageous Iranian woman’s sense of self is challenged by American social standards and rules, in a prison and in a beauty store. The mask that her character Inanna wears in the beauty store and in the questioning room is the same, doing what she is told and trying not to cause trouble. These scenes bring to mind the questions: how has Inanna’s life changed in America? Does she truly have more freedom here? The irony of a woman exiled from post-revolutionary Iran only to be arrested at an anti-war demonstration is felt heavily in a room full of 1960’s activists, intellectuals and fellow Iranian exiles. Goushegir goes on to account for the fears that might infect someone’s mind as the clock ticks by and she waits and waits for the police officer to return.

When asked during the question and answer session, Goushegir admitted that the play was based on...Read More

Photos: Joel Simpson

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Side of Eroticism

The translation of two reviews on Joel Simpson's photography in Paris

From the Journal Montmartre à la une, reviewed by Nicole Behrakis, November, 2008

Du côté de l’Erotisme, un musée (On the Side of Eroticism: A Museum)

Once more we discovered and savoured the talent of two incredible artists who have made this venue an indispensable stop for strollers, curiosity-seekers and above all art lovers. Joel Simpson and Lauren Benaim, both of them talented photographers, plunge us into their respective phantasms, without restriction, forgetting our boundaries, our taboos, our inhibitions, opening for us, even just for a moment, the view from behind their lenses.

Advice to longtime fans of the Museum! Run to the fourth floor and let yourself be seduced by this curious American, Joel Simpson, who instead of depicting women dressed in conventional apparel, prefers to cover their bodies in eroded rock, in dry and crevassed wood, or with vegetables and ageless minerals, resulting in living and inanimate bodies exalted by the artist’s fascination for geology and anthropology: he thus manages to create a violent and sensual osmosis of substances. Architecture takes on the stigmata of nudity; photography assumes the allures of Galatea, and in this morphological coitus everything seems integral and indissociable.

The Second Review:
By May Soon from Nouveaux Couples December, 2008, translated by Joel Simpson

Virtual Sculptures: Mineralized women’s bodies, or combining them with architectural monuments, it’s the curious work of an American photographer currently showing in Paris

Joel Simpson has been doing photography since 1961. First he pursued studies in literature, that took him to Lyon, Siena and Berlin, ending up finally teaching in the US. His photography always stayed with him, and in 2002 he declared himself a professional. He has shown his works in New York, New Jersey, Texas and Massachusetts. His “virtual sculpture,” as he calls them, are currently being shown at the Museum of Eroticism of Paris through March 27, 2009.

These body projections, projections of images on women’s bodies, combine his fascination for the female body, geology, paleontology on one hand, and for sculpture and surrealism on the other. The images play with the viewer’s perception, drawing it into a universe that evolves from the believable to the extraordinary.

“I was aiming for a believable result. It’s the miracle of projection: the details of the image become constituent parts of the body....The challenge is to combine the images in such a way that both the projected image and the body are clearly discernible....The resulting illusion is immensely satisfying to me.”

His work divides into three movements: Virtual Sculpture proper: the Rock-Women who evoke prehistoric art although their poses are quite modern; Extraordinary Adornment, impossible images that create “an attractive fiction, like the Leaf-woman, a wink at Magritte”; and finally the Metamorphoses of the Body—the combination [image/body] is impossible and the superimposition of the image upon the forms of the body creates a comic effect. “Humor is an important element in my art. If I can put some in, I’m very satisfied”— “a rather subtle and implicit humor,” he adds.

Humor, sensuality and an emotional quest across time and matter [—this is the thrust of his work.—trans.] Many of his virtual sculptures refer to the relief sculpture of the Venus [called the Vénus 3—trans.] sculpted in the [paleolithic frieze] of the Roc-aux-Sorciers at Angles-sur-l’Anglin (Vienne), that he photographed en 2006, taking care to underscore the aesthetic over the scientific aspect of this discovery. This paleolithic sculpture testifies, for this lover of archaeology and anthropology, to the common intelligence that we share with prehistoric people.

“I’m fascinated by abstract art, since it offers us ways of visually imagining internal emotions.” This encounter between the world projected and the nude body gives visual form to emotions that would otherwise not be seen. The images coming from the outside are in reality re-transcriptions [or rather homologies—trans.] of internal emotions...
What is he working on now? This past summer the artist discovered the Craters of the Moon [National Monument—trans.] in Idaho. Since this revelation he projects images of lava on naked bodies.
Joel Simpson exhibits in the Musée de l’érotisme of Paris.

Le Musée de l’érotisme: a serious institution who gives plenty of space to humor!

Open seven days a week until 2 am, the Musée de l’érotisme should not be missed: seven floors of exceptional expositions and unique in France.

It opened its doors in 1977 thanks to two devotees of the history of eroticism of all times. Alain Plumey, the curator, and his friend Jo Khalifa, managed to amass a very substantial collection of art works and craft-object from all over the world. During their farflung travels they brought together a unique collection of objects devoted to sexuality: statuettes dedicated to rites of passage, sculptures from all over Africa, Indian illustrations of the Kama-Sutra. One also finds there extremely rare pieces from the Far East, such as The Pillow-Book...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dear Claus; You Have Made an Important Film!

An Interview with Claus Strigel

Two months ago I had this opportunity to see Claus Strigel’s film MOON SUN FLOWER GAME at the Iranian Film Festival in Chicago. It was a fascinating experience!
I must admit that I have been deeply engaged and obsessed to learn about Hossein Mansouri's life -- a great poet living in Munich now-- since Forough Farrokhzad’s death. I wrote a review... then I decided to interview Claus...


A true fairy tale
A film by Claus Strigel
In 1962 the young poetess Forough Farrokhzad visited the lepers at the end of the earth to make a film about their world.
Her film, “The House is Black”, was to become world famous, and, by and by, change a small world too: the world of a small boy who had the good fortune to meet her.
Overnight, the boy is spirited away from the leprosy colony into the midsts of pre-revolutionary Tehranian Bohemia.
A documentary fairy-tale that begins in a north Iranian leprosy colony and winds its way to Munich’s Westend: there the Iranian poet in exile, Hossein Mansouri, goes in search of the boy and discovers a real oriental fable about his own roots and the magical power of words.

E.G: Why did you decide to make a documentary film about Hossein Mansouri, Forough Farrokhzad's adopted son?
How did you know him? And how did you get in touch with him?

C.S: It began as a coincidence and became fate: in 1999 I made a big adventure fiction film, and one of the main characters was played by a wonderful 9- year- old Persian child: Roman Toulany, the adopted son of Hossein Mansouri. (You remember: the skateboard....)
Over the years we kept in touch, and one day I met by coincidence Marzie, his mother. She invited me to a little event with "Some poems and a film you'll never forget," she said.
I was surprised meeting Roman’s father there, reading lyrics of Forough Farrokhzad and showing the unforgettable film "Khaneh siah ast", up to this point I didn't know anything about Forough or about Hossein’s story.
But I was totally fascinated with the poems and the film. That the little boy in the film was Hossein himself, he kept to himself.
But I guessed something....
Well, bit by bit (it took months) Hossein told me his story, which resembled a fictional Hollywood plot.
It took me another three years to get the financing for the film (from German and French TV).
After all that time I was hopelessly involved in Hossein’s life, Forough’s life and with the whole fascinating world of the Farrokhzad family, including the Golestan universe. The documentary I made represents just a small bit of the whole story.... May be some day I'll go further and deeper.
To answer in a shorter way: Is there anyone who could resist getting the whole story when he saw the smiling boy in the black house?

E.G: Were you more fascinated by Forough Farrokhzad's life story or the boy’s?

C.S: I can't separate it into two parts. It's one ,just one of the fascinating points in Forough’s life, that she adopted a little boy she fell in love with although all the circumstances stood against such a decision. (the taste of leprosy, single parenthood, an artist with highs and downs, adption didn't really exist in Iran, etc.). And Hossein as the adopted son and his unbelievable story is the perspective from which the film looks at Forough. And this story is the only way to tell about Forough Farrokhzad, an Iranian poetess that nobody knows in Germany.

E.G: Why is there no mention of Kamyar (Mansouri's half brother) in your film? (unless there is but I missed it!)

C.S: You didn't miss Kamyar; I missed Kamyar: When I was in Tehran we had a meeting arranged, but he wasn't well that day. So we didn't meet.
The story without Kamyar was complicated enough: The byplay of coincidence and fate (one of the background topics of the film) is told out from the perspective of Hossein. And the story is told just by Hossein. I didn't find the right way to tell the story of Kamyar without confusing the audience completely. (Although Forough wrote a great poem to Kamyar)
Also it opens a huge bunch of questions. How could she leave Kamyar? / her own child and stay with her chosen child, the substituted child? / how was Kamyar after the divorce?
Moving questions for Kamyar and Hossein ...
But this is a challenge for another film and a film more about Forough than about Hossein’s Story.

E.G: Tell us about the process of making this documentary in terms of researching, collecting materials, your trip to Iran, meeting those who have been involved with Mansouri etc...

C.S: It was a long way, though the first draft was written in one night: To convince German TV to make a film about an Iranian poetess, there was no way. They said that the German audience doesn’t even know or read German poets.... The only chance was to “sell” the moving story of the adoption of a child living in an Iranian leprosorium. It took me 2 years to get the financing and another half year to convince Hossein Mansouri, because Hossein wanted me to make a film about Forough not about himself. For shooting and editing we had 10 months. Shooting in Iran was a wonderful experience. We found only very helpful and gentle people. Even everybody even in the streets gave us the sign: You’re welcome! Mehrdad Farrokhzad (one of the younger brothers of Forough and his wife Diana showed us everything in the city with an unbelievable hospitality.

E.G: As far as I know, your film is the first film in the history of international cinema which reveals the mystery behind Hossein Mansouri's life and his relationship with Forough Farrokhzad. Aside from the geographical context, how do you see such a relationship?

C.S: Even without the Persian context and without knowing anything about Forough Farrokhzad and her position in Persian culture: IT IS A GREAT STORY!
And for the non- Iranian audience the moving story opens the door for more: Forough’s life, Forough’s poetry, Forough as a pioneer to change gender relations in Iran, and the extraordinary relationship of the Iranian people to their poets. Hossein Mansouri believes that his MOON-SUN-FLOWER-GAME statement changed his fate. "That is the magical power of words- just words change your life"

E.G: Tell us about the form and style of directing and editing this film. Did you have a certain technique in your mind, or did the story itself shape the form?

C.S: First the story shaped my mind and then I had the clear feeling I had to tell it with this dirty shaky camera and jump cuts. The camera seems not to be prepared, searching, looking, shifting... You never know what's next. A camera style of uncertainty resembling Josef Campbell's "Uncertainty of being." This was the impression I had when Hossein told me his story bit by bit. THE BOY: He never said "I", when he told of the time before his adoption. "My first perception of Forough was her voice". After 20 minutes runtime the first time Hossein takes the "I" instead of calling himself the boy. And before that you can't be sure, whether the adult Mansouri is the boy of the black house.
I like the optical effects like mixing Munich’s Westend with Tehran’s Bazar, as if it were the same town. I like it because it tells the audience never to trust their eyes, to be aware of surprises happening surprises every moment, that it pays to look sharp.

E.G: Tell us one of the memorable, surprising moments happened while making this film.

C.S: The very first evening, when I and my assistant arrived in Tehran for some research, I had the chance to have a look in the family archive of Farrokhzads. A lot of postcards Forough has written during her trip in Europe .... The first postcard I had a look at was written by Forough to a friend, I think in 1958. There was a picture of Munich on it. I live in Munich, so I looked closer. (attached is the image of the Postcard)
Forough wrote her return address on the back, where she obviously lived for a time:
The address is exactly the address of my home in Munich, the apartment underneath my apartment, where I’ve lived for 30 years. ( Well, in 1958 I was three years old and didn’t live not there).
There you are: Moon Sun Flower Game a film about coincidence and fate.

E.G: How has the international audience reaction been towards your film?

C.S: The response with audiences of mixed nationalities has been especially wonderful. I think because if you had to leave your home (country) you are very sensitive to the topics Hossein has to deal with: Where are my roots? Who am I? What's my nationality? Where am I going? Etc. etc.
At this moment I'm traveling back from a MOON SUN FLOWER GAME show in a cinema in Hamburg. It was a wonderful, sensitive, excited audience, and they didn't go home even after a long discussion. I wonder if it would have been like this, if it had been just a German audience, because 90% were Iranian.

In Germany it was the first public screening after the premiere at the International Film Festival Hof. In the United States the film had gone from town to town since the beginning of 2008. (Houston-San Antonio-Chicago-Boston....) If I had a distributor in the USA it would be much easier to get the film screened because I have the worldwide TV, DVD and cinema rights yet available.

E.G: Dear Claus; You Have Made an Important Film! Thank you...