rebel jester

Rebel Jester Mystic Poet: Contemporary Persians -signed copy

by Fereshteh Daftari



‘Rebel Jester Mystic Poet’ tells the story of the evolution of Iranian contemporary art by examining the work of 30 artists. This is art where the ills of internal politics remain astutely masked below a layer of ornamentation, poetry, or humour. What unites the disparate works into a coherent theme is the artists’ coping mechanisms, which consist of subversive critique, quiet rebellion, humour, mysticism, and poetry hence the publications title. The subtitle ‘Contemporary Persians’ is also a reference to a strategy of survival, this one used by Iranians in the United States during the early 2000s; at a time when ‘Iranians’ were identified with hostage takers and terrorists, they adopted the identity ‘Persians’, which remained free of such associations. This title collects the work of a number of artists who are already well-known in the United States, including among others Afruz Amighi, whose work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Monir Farmanfarmaian, who received a major exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 2015. “Works from the Mohammed Afkhami Collection. Published in conjunction with the title exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum February 4-June 4, 2017. Author: Fereshteh Daftari (Black Dog Publishing, March 2017, HC, 159 pp, illustrations, 11.2 x 8.5 in)

This book accompanies the exhibition held at Asia Society, NYC, Sept 10, 2021 – May 8, 2022.

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About the Author


Fereshteh Daftari


Curator and scholar Fereshteh Daftari received her Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University (1988). During her tenure at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1988 – 2009), she curated a number of international exhibitions including Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking (2006). As an independent curator and scholar she has continued writing and curating international exhibitions of Middle Eastern art, with a focus on the modern and contemporary art of Iran. Her curatorial work in the field of Iranian modernism includes Between Word and Image at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery in 2002, and Iran Modern at the Asia Society Museum in New York in 2013. She has also focused on contemporary art. Action Now, the first exhibition of contemporary Iranian performance art, was held in Paris (2012); Safar/Voyage: Contemporary Works by Arab, Iranian, and Turkish Artists at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver (2013); and Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (2017). It traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and then to the Asia Society Museum in New York. Daftari has published widely and her most recent book is titled Persia Reframed: Iranian Visions of Modern and Contemporary Art (London: I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury, 2019).

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