Cross-cultural connection of the week: Golnaz Fathi and the Shahnameh


“Golnaz Fathi returns to The Third Line gallery with a new body of work Falling Leaves. Using traditional Iranian calligraphy and the epic poem Shahnameh by Persian poet Ferdowsi as a point of departure, Fathi interprets the work through a contemporary lens that breathes new life into an ancient practice and story.

A trained calligrapher, Fathi has the ability to skillfully transform known language into form and composition. Shifting from the stringent rules of the calligraphic discipline, she soon found artistic solace in a new form of expression in her paintings: an imaginary language deeply rooted in Persian tradition while simultaneously hinting at a social renaissance.

This new series revolves around the seminal Iranian text of the Shahnameh as its central theme. The Shahnameh or Shah-nama (Book of Kings) is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies.

The work represented branches out from her usual approach, incorporating instead figurative elements that were inspired from a lithographic illustration of the poem. This distinct departure from her original text based exploration demonstrates Fathi’s inner visual dialogue and interpretation of the poem. The artist relates to the book themes of futile wars as still relevant today in her native Iran, and in the Middle East in general – confirming the notion of history repeating itself.” (Taken from the Third Line Gallery website)

Controversial NYTimes article by Edward Rothstein on ethnic identity and museums

Controversial NYTimes article by Edward Rothstein

“And those were the forces that ultimately led to the Western Enlightenment, with its more universalist claims and its recognition of slavery’s evils, and to a Golden Age that may still be going on. The Enlightenment had its limitations, of course. But it also shaped the great museums of the West. And many identity museums have yet to absorb that more transcendent vision.”

(We) are not simply beare…

(We) are not simply bearers of cultures, languages, and histories, with a duty to reproduce them. We are the products of linguistic-cultural circumstances, actors with a capacity to re synthesize what we have been socialized into and to solve new and emerging problems of existence. We are not duty-bound to conserve ancestral characteristics which are not structurally useful. We are both socially determined and creators of human futures.

–Mary Kalantzis, Bill Cope, and Diana Slade, Minority Languages, quoted by Sonia Nieto in essay, Culture and Learning in her book The Light In Their Eyes