If truth be mud
More on the London art show
By Ebrahim Golestan
June 14, 2001
In response to Rose Issa's "Poisonous".
Rose Issa was an organizer of the Iranian Contemporary Art Exhibition at
the Barbican Center, London (12 April - 3 June, 2001).
I don't think you would like to see your Iranian.com turned into a mud
slinging pit. I have no mud to sling any way; but if truth be mud, then
we are in a different sphere of meaning and intention. You have kindly offered
the opportunity to reply to The Lady Curator . You would have been kinder
if you had thought of me differently.
What she has said in her "response", and how she has said it,
absolves me of any need to answer. She is ignorant of the subject she is
curatoring (I have no other word for what she does) and she is unprepared
to understand the things that I have said. She has not read what I wrote
since I wrote it in Persian -- and she can not read Persian.
At the end of what I wrote I mentioned her Iranian purse-holders -- and
they seem not to have been capable of helping her to read or understand
what I said, either. What I wrote could not be read by those of your readers
who are not conversant in Persian, even if they cared and tried to see the
issues. And if they have remained wondering still, they may have a right
to blame your editorial arrangement.
The Lady Curator's response in English is only the expression of an individual's
dented desire and defective defence that lacks even a single response to
the points I raised. Your decision to publish her unbalanced views, so conspicuously
unrelated to what they purport to be directed at, seems to have required,
but did not receive the support of a certain integrity and well-considered
Perhaps it would have been more efficient journalism if you had juxtaposed
what The Lady Curator was saying with what you saw in my piece -- which
you had privately welcomed, having found it to be timely and deserved. Such
balanced presentation could have served your readership better. It could
also have saved me from a litigation withoutt getting you involved. Doodling
is so easy, and calumnies carry costly consequences.
What you have published as her response is only a pile of meaningless
vituperative. It is dreamed up descriptions of my age (not yet 80), my sickness
(I am not sick), my home and where it is located (it is not a sea-side resort
and it is not in Brighton), my not knowing the name of a wrestler in a photograph,
my being a misanthrope (despite her claim that I had a weekly open house
or salon in Tehran -- which I never had ), the quality of my cheaply-bought
collection of paintings (which she could not have seen as she has never
even seen me or been to my house) plus her total ignorance of the more important
things and events and dates and personalities as exemplified by her curious
claim that Mossadegh nationalised oil in 1953 in a defeated military coup
(although the oil had been nationalised some thirty months before that date,
and Mossadegh never did or could bring about a military coup, and no nationalisation
could be achieved by anybody as the result of that person's defeat).
And on and on. All wrong; all besides the point. All totally unrelated
to what I had said. And I had never said any of those things about her "mollahs"
or about Abbas Kiarostami, the former -- having no "h" -- being
a class to which my grandfather and some thirty generations before him belonged,
and the second a friend whose works I praised in writing for years before
his international successes.
I never saw any pictures of me in your bulletins to which she refers,
and I have always refused to give any photo to any publication or even friends.
Do you, as a journalist, find such invented claims and texts interesting
or adequate or correct in conception? Why don't you get that piece translated
for the benefit of those who can not read the original, including The Lady
The Lady Curator refers to a telephone call where I rejected her offer
-- or request or suggestion -- to give my films to her for some other sort
of curatoring. Why should she have called on me in the first place if the
films that I made fit the kind of description she now applies? And why should
I have agreed to her offer on the phone? It is better to be careful about
phoned offers. And I must be careful to spell curator correctly, too. I
also must be, as I have been, careful to write or say things about filmmakers.
I have said much words of praise for some, but silence was deemed better
in some other cases.
Anybody is free to feel and do the same. However, I have my constraints
and my criteria regarding those who publish them since it is they who turn
what is individually said into something that is publicly available. And
it is the vulnerable public that grasps, and accepts or rejects, or is led
or deviated. The public must be given a balanced chance to decide for themselves.
The editor is responsible for that. No laps of vigilance is condonable.
Such lapses are passive manipulation.
On the other hand it is a norm of our world that any authority anywhere,
including Iranian authorities, could do whatever they can to enhance the
image they want the world to have of them. They can pay for that or they
can commission their surrogates and those who are involved with them financially
or otherwise to procure such help and facilities. It is a reflection of
our time that to propagate their prestige they have reached the "bottom
of the pot" -- or as we say it in Persian "tah e dig".
The curator or her financiers can say whatever they want and find an
outlet for saying it. The truth of the matter will not be affected. They
have shown that they do not and can not and care not to know or read much
about the Persian language and Iranian heritage, otherwise I would have
referred her and her money-dispensers to the well-known line by Sa'adi addressed
to a fly.