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Iranian cultural program at Asian Art Museum, San Francisco


Contact: Tim Hallman: (415) 379-8787

Ellen Oh: (415) 379-8813

Asian Art Museum Presents Two Unique Iranian Cultural Programs

A World Between: Poems, short stories and essays by Iranian-Americans, Saturday, April 29, 2000, 2:00 PM

FILM: Gabbeh (The Carpet) directed by Moshen Makhmalbaf, Sunday, April 30, 2000, 2:00 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, MARCH 10, 2000: During the last weekend in April, the Asian Art Museum will present two cultural programs that offer unique insight into Iranian culture and Iranian American experiences. On Saturday April 29, local Iranian American authors will read selections from the recently published anthology, A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans, and on Sunday, April 30, the critically-acclaimed Iranian film, Gabbeh (The Carpet) will be screened. Both the reading and the film screening will take place in the Museum's Trustees' Auditorium beginning at 2:00 PM.

The programs are free with museum admission. A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans (George Braziller, New York, 1999) is a passionate collection of works written by Iranian immigrants and first-generation Iranian-Americans. Diverse and deeply personal, these pieces explore the Iranian community's continuing struggle to understand what is means to be Iranian in America. Editor Persis M. Karim and contributors Zara Houshmand, Sanaz Nikaein, Maryam Ovissi, Katayoon Zandvakili, and Shadi Ziaei will read their writings from this powerful anthology, discussing the pain of exile, the complexity of cultural identity and the relationships between those born in Iran and a younger generation who are growing up in the United States. These never-before published pieces present a rich, humanizing portrait of a growing community, who like any other immigrant community must face the ongoing negotiation between past and present, their native home and their adopted home. A World Between gives voice to their unique and moving pieces. Following the readings, the audience will be invited to participate in a discussion about the works and issues presented. The program will close with the sale of books and a book signing by the writers.

A brilliantly colorful, profoundly romantic ode to beauty, nature, love and art, the 1997 film Gabbeh tells a timeless fable in a radically new way. The story is a lyrical saga of a woman and her tribe within the vast natural expanses of nomadic settings. It is as simple and traditional as a fairy tale about love, yet at the same time it is multi-layered and modernist. The film was directed by Moshen Makhmalbaf, one of Iran's most popular and controversial directors. Intended to be a documentary, the film evolved into a fictional live story which uses a Gabbeh as a magic story-telling device, weaving past and present, fantasy and reality. Makhmalbaf says, "To me, Gabbeh is a return to life and its colors. I was searching for life when I made Gabbeh. I wanted to capture the poetry of everyday life." He traveled to remote southeastern Iran to document the lives of the almost extinct nomadic Ghashghai tribe who weave Gabbehs-special carpets that serve as both artistic expressions and autobiographical records of their lives. Rather than following patterns or designs, the weavers are inspired by their natural and social environments, using bright wool to create images depicting people, animals, events and feelings. Despite the film's tremendous international success, Gabbeh was banned in Iran for a year before the government issued a screening permit.

The programs are co-sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley; the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley; the Iranian Federated Women's Club (IFWC); the Payvand Cultural School; the Persian Center, Berkeley; and the Society for Iranian Professionals. Ongoing support has been provided by the California Arts Council, a state agency, the City and County of San Francisco, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

ASIAN ART MUSEUM OF SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL VISITOR INFORMATION: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art. Opened in 1966 as a result of a gift to the City of San Francisco by industrialist Avery Brundage, the museum's holdings include more than 12,000 art objects representing the countries and cultures throughout Asia. As a result of a bond measure overwhelmingly passed by San Francisco voters in 1994, the museum is scheduled to relocate from its current location in Golden Gate Park to the Old Main Library building at Civic Center in 2002.


MEMBERSHIP: 415/379-8880


LOCATION: Golden Gate Park (entrance from 8th Ave. and Kennedy Drive across from the Music Concourse, adjacent to the de Young Museum), San Francisco, CA 94118.

HOURS: Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, with extended evening hours until 8:45 pm on the first Wednesday of each month.

REGULAR ADMISSION: FREE for children under the age of 12 and Asian Art Museum members. Nonmembers: $7.00 adults, $5.00 seniors, $4.00 youth aged 12 to 17. Complimentary guided docent tours are offered at regularly scheduled times throughout the day. Admission is free to all on the first Wednesday of each month.

ACCESSIBILITY: Galleries in the Asian Art Museum are accessible and limited numbers of wheelchairs are available without charge at the Museum entrance. Restrooms in the adjacent de Young Museum are wheelchair accessible. Sign language interpretation will be provided on 72 hours notice by calling (415) 379-8812. Assistive listening devices are available for both the Trustees' Auditorium events and docent tours - no reservations required.

The Asian is served by MUNI buses #44 O'Shaughnessy and #71 Haight Noriega and the MUNI line N-Judah. Designated parking is located in the lot east of the museum (entrance from Kennedy Drive at 10th Avenue) and at both ends of the Music Concourse. Please note that on Sundays J.F. Kennedy Drive is closed to all traffic. Nearby parking is available on weekends at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) garage at a cost of $3 per car. For more information regarding access, please call (415) 379-8812; TDD: (415) 752-2635


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