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Farhang Foundation Co-Sponsors ‘Document: Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles’ from June 6th to August 22nd

On Sunday, June 6, 2010, Los Angelenos from all backgrounds were invited to the opening symposium and gallery tour of the new photographic exhibition entitled Document: Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

Opening day events began with scholarly panels and discussions with the artists, followed by a gallery tour of the actual exhibition itself, which offered visitors a fascinating glimpse into the lives of second-generation Iranian-Americans in everyday situations in Los Angeles, a city reportedly home to the largest Iranian population outside of Iran. Their lives were captured through the photography of four Iranian-American photographers – Farhad Parsa, Arash Saedinia, Parisa Taghizadeh, and Ramin Talaie.

While the exhibition celebrated the shared aspects of the Iranian-American identity, it also explored its diversity and nuance. Each photograph was accompanied by insightful text that provided a bit of background on the subject. Just as each photo was truly unique simply in terms of photographic style and aesthetics, so it was in terms of the story it told. From the Federal immigration judge to the Muslim breakdancer, from the LAPD detective to famous comedian Maz Jobrani, the stark differences between the forty plus Iranian-American photographic subjects made not only for an informative and educational exhibition, but also a rich and multi-dimensional experience.

“It is my hope that this exhibition will mark the beginning of a long-term, concerted effort of self-documentation by and of the Iranian-American community in Los Angeles... Such an endeavor promises to be beneficial to not only researchers, but to Los Angelenos themselves – Iranian-Americans and otherwise – in their common quest to live, love, and understand one another,” wrote Amy Malek, curator of the exhibition and UCLA Anthropology Ph.D candidate.

Organized by Malek, with Susan Slyomovics, faculty advisor, under the auspices of the G.E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES) at UCLA, the exhibition was co-sponsored by the UCLA Council on Research (COR), UCLA Center for Community Partnerships (CCP), CNES, and Farhang Foundation.

Professor Slyomovic kicked off the symposium on opening day with welcoming remarks. The first panel soon began, which, among other topics, included a look at Visual Anthropology, the Iranian-American Diaspora, and Ethnicity in Los Angeles.

After a break, Malek moderated the second panel, a lively Artists Roundtable, where all four photographers engaged in an in depth discussion that touched on many things, including how they defined the notion of ‘documentary’ as it related to their photography, how they went about choosing subjects, and how they made aesthetic decisions for their shots.

Both panels offered stimulating question and answer sessions, which were as enlightening as the panels themselves. After Malek’s gallery tour, the day concluded with a reception.

In case you missed opening day, you can still catch the exhibition, as it will continue to be on display at the Goldenberg Galleria at the Fowler Museum at UCLA until August 22, 2010.

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