And your eyes, oh Lord

For our 32nd screening Mohammad Salemy brings us two masterpieces of Iranian cinema: Forough Farrokhzad’s The House is Black and Dariush Mehrjui’s The Cow.

Khaneh Siah Ast (The House is Black) is a documentary directed by Forough Farrokhzad (1935–1967) a critical and still widely read feminist poet and filmmaker from Iran. The short film depicts the lives and bodies of people tragically deformed by leprosy and is considered to be a precursor to the Iranian New Wave.

Gaav (The Cow) is a film by Dariush Mehrjui (b. 1939) about Hassan, a middle-aged villager, and his relationship with his cow. It is widely regarded as the first film of the Iranian New Wave. What begins as a quiet meditation on the man’s pride in his cow, his companion and his most valuable possession, unfolds into a broad depiction of Hassan’s changing position within the social structure of the village.

Even though these films are integral parts of the history of Iranian cinema, they are difficult to find and therefore not widely screened in Germany. Farrokhzad’s and Mehrjui’s films are two different stories about the political aesthetics of transformation in which humanity stands at the intersection of hideousness, beauty, madness, and bestiality. These films both emphasize how recognizing the often invisible inhumanity within the human is the first step in dealing with the question of otherness: as it pertains to different ethnicities, the mentally ill, and the sick. We present The House is Black and The Cow to you within the context of the series followed by a discussion afterwards with Salemy who will draw on his research on both films regarding their individual themes and their philosophical and political implications.

Mohammad Salemy is an independent New York-based artist, critic, and curator who holds an MA in critical curatorial studies from the University of British Columbia. He has shown his works in Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works 7 (Beirut) and Witte de With (Rotterdam). His writings have been published in e-flux, Flash Art, Third Rail, and Brooklyn Rail, and he has curated exhibitions at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Access Gallery, and Satellite Gallery in Vancouver as well as Transit Display in Prague. In 2014, he organized the Incredible Machines conference. Salemy’s curatorial experiment For Machine Use Only was included in the 11th edition of Gwangju Biennale (2016). He currently co-organizes the education programs at The New Centre for Research & Practice.