Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Interview With Joel Simpson (4)

Read the interview from number (1)
Joel Simpson is a multi- disciplinary artist. He is a photo artist, jazz pianist and had taught English, French and Italian in colleges. in October he will have two shows in France. One in Tours in October 12 at the Chapelle Sainte-Anne. And the second will be in Paris at the Musée de l’érotisme.

E.G. As you recently have developed an interest in Iran’s history, culture and civilization, how do you see Iranians (abroad or at home) at this time in history? The possibility of a perilous war between the two countries?

J.S: I have always had a great respect for Persian culture, just as the Romans had, and being Jewish, I’m very aware of the benevolence and toleration of Cyrus for the Jews in ancient times. I am outraged by the fact that our CIA operatives actually subverted a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953, a fact, among others, that gives the lie to our government’s claim that it wishes to spread democracy and freedom. It’s difficult to imagine something like that happening to us, yet if we are to understand America’s real role in the world, we must try to grasp the enormity of this and other of our national crimes. If more Americans actually knew about it they might take a more sober view of our role in the world and the rather toxic exceptionalism that is so commonplace here.

The revolution of 1979 was a direct consequence of our 1953 subversion, and it ended up causing even more pain for the non-fundamentalist citizens of Iran. Few Americans realize that Iran was one of the three most modern oriented nations in the Middle East, along with Lebanon and Israel. Yet due to the Islamic revolution, many of those Western-oriented citizens have emigrated, forming a very successful and educated diaspora in this and other Western countries, and who have made significant contributions to the culture and well-being of those countries. It’s another historical irony.

Of course, Khomeni’s revolution did accomplish one major thing: it secured Iran’s considerable oil wealth for itself. This was the US motivation for installing the Shah; it was the motivation for making war on Iraq, and it would be the government’s true motivation for attacking Iran, which I have been active in New York to try to prevent. Two major factors militate against this dreadful possibility: the opinions of most defense experts and the exhaustion of our military and economic power in Iraq and with the latest ongoing crisis—which is going to cost the US government a lot of money. So making another war at the behest of Bush and Cheney’s friends in the oil companies may just not be affordable, if Cheney can’t be restrained by logic, or better, impeached.

E.G: Tell us something about the two venues, in Paris and in Tours, where you’re having shows in October 2008…

The one in Tours is part of a much larger festival taking place in the cities and towns across the entire Touraine region. Its director, an American woman, happened to visit the large photography show I curated in Brooklyn last year and was impressed. We got to talking, and by February of this year, she had invited me to show 11 of my works in a gallery in Tours, the center of the festival. I may get to stage a performance where I project patterns from nature on dancers suspending a white cloth between them. I did it last October, and the audience was spellbound. The show will open October 12 at the Chapelle Sainte-Anne.

The one in Paris is at the Musée de l’érotisme, a wonderful museum that is as strong in the diverse worldwide ethnography of erotic art as it is in examples of that art from Western Europe and the US. I created my own catalogue of the museum when I visited it in 2006 and gave it to the curator, with the suggestion that he include prehistoric art in his presentation. He agreed, but then apparently also liked my creative work, which I had submitted to him, since he sent me an email last April inviting me to have a show there. It will be 50 works, opening October 23, and lasting four to six months.

E.G:. Is there anything you like to add?

J.S: Thank you so very much, for asking me such provocative questions. Thanks to all your readers who’ve read any of it, and especially to those who made it to the end.

E.G: Thank you for you time

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