tv Doc Film - Hidden Treasure - Irans Legendary Modern Art Collection Deutsche Welle October 15, 2018 7:15am-8:00am CEST
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fifteen hundred square metres of space this exhibition area in berlin is committed to gallery has been prepared for sixty works from the tehran museum of contemporary art works that have never before been shown in the west it's the start of a planned cultural exchange intended to strengthen relations between iran and the west. but it never came to that just weeks before it was due to open authorities in iran prevented the artworks from leaving the country.
come run dba has lived in spain and france since the late one nine hundred seventy s. the architect artist and collector left his homeland a year before the iranian revolution. dba knows the tehran collection more intimately than most for he was once closely associated with it and he still spends a lot of time thinking about what's become of it he is the architect who designed
the tehran museum of contemporary art in the one nine hundred seventy s. . devo was also its first director the tehran museum of contemporary art held the largest and most valuable collection of contemporary art outside europe and north america. tehran the capital of iran in the one nine hundred seventy s. the city experienced a rapid transformation into a modern metropolis western consumer goods were readily available the surge in oil prices allowed the city to become
a hub for international business and lifestyle. the only thing missing was a place to show modern art. empress. actively promoted culture and art in iran. because. of it mccarthy. today she lives in paris she left iran for a life in exile on january sixteenth one thousand nine hundred seventy nine and headed to the city where she had studied architecture years earlier. art plays an important role in my life and without it my life would be empty the history of iran dates back thousands of years this is
a civilization rich in art and culture and it has produced many extraordinary artists in various fields of art see it architecture poetry or literature. in one thousand nine hundred sixty seven there was festival of arts was founded at the behest of embers from raw. both iranian and international artists were invited to take part in this unique festivals of on guard orientation attracted global attention. was.
the empress helped shape the country's cultural policy of the day giving it a very distinct style. she she had cultural ambitions for her country. the story of the contemporary museum in tehran began when i went to an exhibition like it was where the city theater of tehran city is today i recalled the artists i ran directly saying to me it would be nice if there was a place of our works would be preserved forever for you during those dream q kauto me mood where i have a ship i think back when i got the idea of creating a museum for iranian artists he dodged the regime. irani. it was not the only museum she had built but it was the most important one.
architect cameron dba had just completed his studies in washington d.c. he spent a lot of time thinking about a contemporary art museum in tehran as her cousin he was close to empress faraj she commissioned him to design the museum. memory is something the money with. the amount of money in terms of architecture i was interested in finding an identity. and one of the building to have an iranian forces. i can't think of the persian word for it. but yes i would say identity is the proper word
because. it's the. it's awesome teeth yet very much one of the museum to reflect a sense of iranian identity. in. the us that the they do it by design the building so that the museum with its light inlets be to be reminiscent of desert town that's. because they tend to have very interesting rubes and they have. wind towers and domes like you see on mosques that leave. the building was built on a site surrounded by an unfinished park. in the center of the museum and visible from all parts of the main building spiral
walkway is oil pool a sculpture by japanese artist nora yuki hotta gucci. reflected light gives it the look of a dark mirror. it was installed in one thousand nine hundred seventy seven. who. come around often talks about the past with his family and friends. i think you know. he met his wife negara in the tehran museum she worked there as a curator who. could write this for us but he sure he that
siobhan will find that card when word got around that empress prada the arabian government and the shah were buying art trying to members of the art world naturally approach them to suggest works to by. iran was very wealthy at the time and the international art market was out a low point that some of the works proposed were selected in part of this room and . that. eventually the collection grew to include well over three thousand works by both iranian and international artists painting such as mural on in the in red ground by jackson pollock found their way there. along with works by brock. roy lichtenstein rauschenberg. and many others. financed by petrol dollars from the sale of oil its total cost is still
a mystery but the criticism that iran spent too much money on art continues to annoy come to this day how do you do you can mine count of that and how much transactions were completely above board. and the reason is that. if you john someone recently claimed that they had all the purchase receipts at that moment and . someone else said the museum had lost the money you know to go but i still have them stuff i can get them from the library. well. atheist. here is the list of everything i bought everything is listed here. every
work purchased while i was director of the museum is recorded here. at the moment. cameron dba mainly bought works by contemporary american artists at prices that are absurdly low by today's standards. so. the total amount spent on art purchases while he was the museum director was about three and a half million dollars. this is three earlier or so. and he said like to be done well it was a fortune that has now multiplied in value. at that time i was fortunate to have had the chance to meet some of the artists myself and for example i met some guys
in the south of france for us and henry more the more they were hard yes warhol it was very interesting to see warhol if he came to iran and made partridge's of the shah he and a few others he was a very quiet and gentle man a little shy but we had a good reporter would you travel with me but i do wish to you. almost forty years ago on the morning of the day the museum was to be opened in tehran come run dba woke up with his heart pounding he was nervous it was supposed to be a major event. he wanted to celebrate a festival of part as well as demonstrate iran's ability to hold its own on the international level. it was the evening of october thirteenth one thousand nine hundred seventy seven.
the date marked both lobbies birthday and the opening of the museum in tehran. of unguarded artists from all over the world gave performances. was working as a photographer in the museum. so you had me at that time it all seemed so new to me and somewhat bizarre never mind what it was like for the general public with no relation to it. on the pictures i took at that time you can see there stunned reactions while i was taking pictures i realized what a wide gulf there was between us of
a guard elite and average citizens back so that was more than the population would accept at that time i wanted to capture all the reactions both from the intellectuals who were taking part in the celebrations and from those who were observing the event from the outside and did not understand what was going on. the pictures. back then have never been shown in public anything showing the monarchy had to be after the revolution and remain so to this day. and there is yet another reason why there are no pictures of the opening night. show. when the shah arrived he dipped his hand into the pool of oil his hands got
dirty everyone stood there and shark until farrar started to laugh then everyone laughed and things quieted down again. but afterwards all the negatives of the pictures taken that evening were collected and destroyed because this moment was not meant to be recorded. the secret service saw to that. your go green. the fact that the show is hand has been dirtied with oil. could be seen as a symbolic historical event because oil had polluted iranian society. or not in ecological terms. but in the sense that a lot of money came into society and upset the existing class system. which
i i the iranian revolution started in one nine hundred seventy eight among other things it was the population's reckoning with the shah and the imperial family for its pomp and extravagance and its pandering to the west. the on one card was no longer received with approval. i. millions took to the streets of tehran in support of their new leader they saw him as their liberator from the shah's dictatorship. i. was. on february first one nine hundred seventy nine the figurehead of the revolution
the ayatollah khomeini return to iran from exile in paris from then on everything associated with the west was condemned banished and destroyed those who escaped were concerned about the art they had just won. but what no one knew was someone was watching over it. it's nice to see them i've heard about him i was so happy about it he was really someone who looked after the pictures. every day for almost forty years. has been walking down the long corridor to the basement of the tehran museum of contemporary art. under the shah he had been employed there as a driver. every
day there were demonstrations against the shah here. a lot of students were on the street the campus is close by. we saw it all on the eleventh of february nine hundred seventy nine the revolution triumphed. then a few came from the revolutionary committee. yes i think that's what it was called back then but i'm no longer exactly sure and they occupied the museum like they told my coworkers they could leave everyone else went home i was the one they kept on with the honest. about me and i knew nothing about heart but i realized that when they put me in
charge of this treasure i had to pull myself together and take good care of it. and you could. max and monet rothko and book. at first for russia because he saw their work says little more then paint on canvas. month by the mission of my ignorance led me to acquire as much knowledge as i could of course i knew nothing about ott. but if i try to obtain information from different books there was no internet back then. i had to search through books for
days just to get a little information about a work eventually i would find something and documented for the museum. child who's me ash that i mean i'm just tough and. probably the most precious piece in the whole is jackson pollock's mural on indian red ground it's estimated to be worth as much as two hundred fifty million dollars and is considered one of pollock's greatest works. shahbazi the driver watched over one of the world's most valuable art collections.
its value today is estimated at around three billion dollars. caught up in my. daughter gave me the courage to carry out this task in this way i'm not. she's a tears of joy i'm simply happy i may not have been a good person to god. god was good to me for putting me here today. i apologize for the tears i can't control myself yes. or them.
please forgive me. they will and this treasure is so incredibly important to me. jerk you somehow don't know there are only a few people here in the museum you know how much i love this treasure. iran is coming back to life after years of sanctions against the country and its nuclear program. the historic nuclear agreement was signed in july twenty fifth team most of the sanctions were lifted as a result iranian society was keen to reengage with the world and gain respect. it was an opportunity to resume the cultural dialogue. the outstanding collection
in the end berlin was chosen to present the western masterpieces and works by iranian artists plans were made to mount the exhibition in the kamil the gallery it was a sensational coup for the german capital. as concentrate on us it all started as a joint venture between two museums our national gallery and the t.m. o.c.a. interocular the auto painter exhibition was curated by the deputy director of the national gallery if you are him yet. and he came into contact with colleagues that t.m. o.c.a. he's above all however he came into contact with the collection dozens of it's incredible potential was just slumbering in the basement it of course was the support of the german foreign office was vital from the very beginnings as making is on its. thirty works by international artists from the tehran collection were to be shown as well as thirty works by twentieth century iranian artists.
in spite of all the restrictions iran still has more artists today than ever before . here at one of tehran's most renowned art schools the majority of students are women a development that demonstrates the extent to which women have become emancipated over the past thirty eight years despite all the restrictions they have won their place in the islamic republic in the past only two to three women would be present at an art lecture. iran's most famous sculptor remembers it all well. parviz town of ali teaches here at the mom their institute of art in tehran one of his sculptures was to be sent to the exhibition in berlin. for him an essential aspect of the exhibition
was to show the mutual influence of already and and accident. which i am proud of having good for the product i'll get you on your back it's about the intersections between iranian and western culture. but we had very little tradition when it comes to spatial content except in architecture that. i got it for you on their mentality today is very rainy and. today's iranian woman wants to express herself to show herself in the best possible light. is. that there is any chance when i turn forty or fifty years ago that didn't exist i mean everyone was emulating the west. today they're proud of themselves and that is a good thing so they used techniques his instruments for their works. to what they
want to express their own feelings. want to. call you up and this is an interconnection a marriage between iran and the west between east and west. is there was a jewish. shot of. this is the. target was today more than ever the children of the revolution are emancipating themselves and questioning their role and that of the islamic republic not let. this pass them off as that or ask our generation dares to show itself more we women want to prove that if you men are allowed to have your way and do whatever you want and we women can do the same even though we have no place to do it we'll take it anyway yes our generation is definitely more rebellious. by mischance that's
the only adult to us the brown strands are my mother's hair all the rest is mine. done raises the question of what happens when you go out onto the streets in tehran wearing a headscarf made up your own hair or your home to an army in there so will that really be a problem for her and our project is to get people to think about that. of course because the exiled matter based on this is this. is. the new generation has become more courageous the art scene in particular has felt the limits of the islamic republic since its foundation sometimes the artist's moods sometimes they win.
to me. it was ok i'm going to die the new generation is more creative than before and everyone can express themselves as they wish starting on it's a new kind of freedom of independence surely there's no large group which they have to belong to yes. cherry blossom there you see before the revolution in the one nine hundred fifty s. and sixty's. there was a period in which our painters were proud to look to the west. at that time our good artists want a broad to italy france. when they came back they were happy and proud to say they had studied says and picasso or morning hours as this they were proud to say they were impressionists that they could paint like impressionists. then came
a time when iranian artists became aware of the issues in their country they wanted to express themselves through iranian thanks after the revolution many artists became revolutionaries. others but they were artists who took part in the revolution. and wanted to express things related to it you know. him and go any more bloodshed in society. or each and they were politically minded as you will see with the end of his. pervious town of only is for milieu with the experiences of iranian artists in
recent decades. he is one of the most prominent internationally as well. he. has more you're going to have and that the focus is less on trying to get an iranian artist out of us than on trying to get us out of us he wants to know what we're capable of what makes up our essence. he wants to know why we should be turned into a new artist he wants to know what's inside of us and wants us to represent exactly that he has made it possible for us to believe in ourselves back in college and very much in love and get a job. now the works are being taken from the vaults and taken abroad and shown in berlin in addition to berlin they could be exhibited in many other places these works are very pure and untouched they show a new perspective they show how people in iran thought thirty years ago and which works of art they collected to influence the next generation's culture i get asked
i am the size of a letter. with thirty iranian and thirty western works the berlin exhibition was also meant to be an opportunity to reveal the observer's established patterns of perception that's one ton of only was hoping for. one katrina horse riding remembered i'm very happy about it i think it's a good step. you know so it would be a pity to keep these works in prison without anyone being aware of their existence you know matters and in this on where you say the internet museum vault for years and never got out it's a good thing that not only the iranian people can see them but the whole world and this opens the door to cultural exchange when we acquired these works everyone thought that iran was a third world country and not worthy of art or sort of hard hitting battery. you
don't care if they make out and you don't. you know sort of. even forty years ago iran was already seeking acceptance on an international level and looking to free itself from western influences. time of only as guiding principle is an artist doesn't have to adhere to western ways of seeing in order to be an artist. and artists should not seek acceptance from outside himself neither from orient nor occident. from. the date of the berlin opening was approaching increasing media interest fueled
criticism of the cultural exchange with the islamic republic from various quarters . one accusation was that germany would be giving iran money through the pression cultural heritage foundation. and it was amazing that the world's major museums pay low ratings when known finns are expected then we say ok sorry we're out of that was clear to us from the outset and we quickly made it clear to our iranian colleagues that this is not about loan fees but about a serious calculation of an exhibition of this kind you know. all the art works being brought to berlin that dated from before nine hundred forty five were also checked for prominence. pat singer the president of the pression cultural heritage foundation also had to deal with assertions that some of the works in iran were forgeries.
and we'd heard that some works had allegedly been replaced with forgeries over the decades and that the originals had been sold for huge sums of money but you can't just say that these are bandits so it's hard to say anything about the much older story because of the importance of these works if they were to be sold abroad whether to museums or private parties i'd find it very hard to believe that you wouldn't hear anything about it you know dying being prepared because it's one of optics to one to fear that. in tehran preparations continue despite growing criticism of the cultural exchange this sculpture by parviz town of ali is destined for berlin. re store hunnish and a few of her colleagues from the gmail and a gallery were sent to the iranian capital to prepare three particularly
problematic works for transport to berlin. didn't take also for the castle which i have now prepared that needed to be neatly mounted in its frame then it needed vibration protection that something put between the rear surface and the canvas to prevent or reduce vibrations during transport all that's been taken care of and the condition of the work recorded prior to its dispatch to germany gets this before the spec poskitt doctors. one cuts you existing or potential damage is noted in advance of tons fought. freshman can order and stand. a climate resistant shipping crate is custom made for each priceless work of art they're designed to prevent any further damage to the unique pieces.
punished russia cannot confirm the claims that the art was not properly stored. down here in the basement she is reminded of the vaults of the national gallery and berlin. there's an air conditioner so that much i can say and i mean all this has obviously been dormant for a long time you can see that they haven't been moved much it's all a bit neglected and dusty but by and large the collection is in good condition someone has been looking after it lost. in berlin advance ticket sales had already begun in spite of rumors that conservative circles in iran were against the project but that didn't diminish the
public interest in fact on the contrary. doesn't respond to all the interest in this exhibition is tremendous that is clear and it comes from different places as you can also see that very clearly it's on the one hand simply seeing these warhols and hence in some rothko's they are really so important in the history of art especially that of the second half of the twentieth century and they'll finally be seen again because that's one thing it is and then of course there is already such a special interest in the fact that it comes from iran and of course then you think back to the shah's time when the collection originated the works from this museum have a great history as a mathieson vaknin. difficult and. expectations for this cultural exchange were high and not just in germany.
preparations were in full swing for the eagerly awaited opening day. all the difficulties it seems had been resolved and everyone had great hopes for their own form of dialogue between cultures. but then things suddenly took a turn for the worse the pression cultural heritage foundation canceled the exhibition. for once with us from india mission in the end it became increasingly
difficult for us because everything that needed to be resolved the selection of the works questions about transport and insurance etc had been resolved but in order to actually start the ball rolling so to speak to begin packing them for transport we needed export permits and they were not issued in time that's when we said it was now impossible for us to do any further planning under such conditions this was not a meeting when she refused. i believe that this exhibition had to come about this dialogue between western art of the twentieth century and iranian art of the twentieth century would have changed perceptions of iran in germany and europe and the monk the public visit to get i think you have to do away with stereotypes there is the stereotype of a regime of a political constitution but of course a society is also made up of people and societies are usually much more colorful and you know it is a shock and it is a shift isn't it if you can talk. and
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this is d.w. news live from berlin a blow for german chancellor angela merkel are conservative allies in bavaria suffering massive losses in a key regional elections the repartee cautions being felt here in berlin as voters reject germany's traditional pardons also coming up. a handshake bug not much more a surprise break the talks between british and european leaders readers failed to produce any results the main stumbling block still the future of the border in ireland.