Iran is the seat of a long cultural history, as the seat of the ancient Persian empire. Throughout various archaeological digs, a variety of treasures highlighting this rich cultural history in the land between water and desert. As part of a celebration of this history, Berlin’s Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany is hosting an exhibit from April to August of 2017. This exhibit will showcase long hidden treasures of the early Iranian civilizations that flourished between the seventh millennium BC and the rise of the Achaemenids in the first millennium BC.
The curator is Barbara Helwing. The exhibit is in partnership with the National Museum of Iran and the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. From the snow-capped peaks of the Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges to the blazing heat of Loot Desert, Iran is clearly a country with a variety of contrasts. It contributes to the unique perspectives of its people.
Iran has been inhabited for centuries, as the mountains and deserts shelter fertile valleys that support the growth of communities and civilizations. These valleys cradled Iranian civilizations and it resulted in the growth of the Achaemenid Empire. Within the mountains, the people found shelter, but also critical raw materials.
Due in part to the 1979 revolution, Iran’s cultural treasures have been inaccessible for decades. Few members of the Western audience have been able to see these unique pieces of history, due in part to the regime’s fundamentalism and distrust of the international community. Yet this exhibit gives the world a chance to capture a glimpse of these early civilizations.
The exhibition opens a window onto a country that has been inaccessible for decades and whose imagery is little known in Europe. The treasures that are part of the exhibit include items from the graves of two Elamite princesses and the spectacular finds from the burial grounds of Jiroft are being shown outside of Iran for the first time.
Berlin was also host to an exhibition of contemporary Iranian artists and a discussion of the Art in Iran and the Diaspora, which is called A Heritage Transposed. The exhibit was held in the Box Freiraum gallery and it featured pieces from Iran’s cultural heritage and its tumultuous history. Some of the artists that were featured also included political controversy in their pieces that was critical of Iranian politics. Iranian and non-Iranian artists were included to get a variety of work which reflects and commented on the country in various ways.
This exhibit concluded in February, but was part of a larger cultural program, known as Iranian Modernity.