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Festival of Arts details the 11 year history of the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts which ran annually between 1967 to 1977 and centered on the programming of preeminent music, dance, drama, poetry and film as a showcase of the crème de la crème of the traditional and avant-garde. In the mid-1960s Empress Farah Pahlavi’s initial proposition for an event of such magnitude was put forward and, in the summer of 1967, formally realised under the guidance of the National Iranian Radio & Television and its Director General, Reza Ghotbi.
Performed against a mixture of cinematic backdrops, from the ruins of Persepolis–the ceremonial capital of ancient Persia–to the open-air stadium and concert hall of Shiraz University campus, the artists encompassed the foreseen heights of both Eastern and Western art, and played to an audience to whom they were predominantly alien. In just over a decade such luminaries as Fernando Arrabal, Munir Bashir, Cathy Berberian, Peter Brook, John Cage, Tadeusz Kantor, Joseph Chaikin, Merce Cunningham, Jerzy Grotowski, Arthur Rubinstein, Jerome Savary, Peter Schumann, Ravi Shankar, Uma Sharma, Andrei Serban, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Shuji Terayama, Tran Van Khê, David Tudor, Bob Wilson, and Iannis Xenakis, would take to the stage.
In an effort to showcase and ultimately foster the artistic development of Iran, alongside these more established world names, performed localised artists of multiple age and discipline. Indeed such exposure and collaboration with the abundant creativity on show began a curious cross-pollination within the Iranian arts, and despite the festival’s permanent cancellation at the onset of the Islamic Revolution in 1978, its creative legacy can still be noted prominently today.
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Vali Mahlouji trained first in archaeology and philology and later as a psychoanalyst and is currently an independent curator, writer, translator and designer.
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