Iranian culture has always been preoccupied with its past. In the 14th century, illustrated versions of the Shahnama or Book of Kings – the national epic – recast Iran’s pre-Islamic kings and heroes as contemporary Islamic rulers, legitimising the ruling elite. Conversely, ancient Shi‘ite martyrs are commonly represented as champions of today’s poor and the oppressed. For contemporary Iranian artists, both the sacred and secular heroes of times past continue to provide a rich vein of material: a vocabulary with which to comment on the society they see around them.
The exhibition assembles 125 works of art in a variety of media—photography, painting, sculpture, video, posters, political cartoons, animation, and historical illustrated manuscripts – to present a wide-ranging examination of how artists have continued to appropriate the past for novel ends. Find out more about ‘In the Fields of Empty Days’ from LACMA’s website.
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‘She changed how we encounter sculpture’ – remembering Phyllida Barlow (1944–2023)