Personal notes

album_02

This site could not exist without the help of my friends who provided me with the necessary documentation of my accomplishments throughout my life. I will be forever indebted to them.

My rebellious nature is deeply rooted in my teenage years, wherein I was faced with relentless challenges and was in constant turmoil with my family, especially my father. Although I was born in an affluent family and the son of a three star General of the Shah, not only was I liberal minded, proudly atheistic and secretly harbouring leftist philosophies, but I was also a strong activist for human rights and against capital punishment.  Upon receiving my Master’s degree in Architecture with the highest honours from the University of Tehran in 1962, I escaped to Paris. There, I continued my studies for two years at the École des Beaux-Arts with a French Government scholarship granted to me by the French Embassy in Tehran prior to my departure. This yearly award is offered only to the best graduate student. Leaving behind the morbid culture of my so called “homeland” and returning to Europe whose culture was so much more comprehensible to me since childhood, was quite a renaissance. I only considered returning home in 1966, when I was officially exempted from the military service that I so explicitly despised.

Despite all my achievements during these thirteen years of hard work, as evident on this site, I was constantly harassed in every way possible, but this did not discourage me and I was still not deterred from further pursuing my professional activities and artistic endeavours. Leaving Iran for Paris in 1978 on a self imposed exile, I felt a surge of deliverance and joy. I was returning to the beautiful City of Lights where I felt more at home and whence I recalled visions of happier days that I had spent there in 1951 when I was only twelve years old. I was delighted when I was granted political asylum in 1980 and later in 2001 I became a citizen of France. Hence, I can now cherish the rest of what is left of my life in my adopted country, thanks to the only citizenship I possess. I sometimes ponder that even if I were to transform into a bird and fly back into time to a distressing fatherland buried in the deep abyss of my memories, the nightmare would never cease; nevertheless, I have never refused contributing to the culture of my so-called homeland.

Much to my surprise, in 2003, I was invited by the Islamic Republic’s Cultural Attaché’ in Paris, Mr. Ayoubi, who has since  become a friend, to design a “Persian Shabestan” (prayer space) in the basement of the Grand Mosque of Paris, which I accepted as an unpaid architect.  I was quite bewildered by the respect shown to me by the Islamic diplomatic corps, in comparison to the unfriendly treatment I received during the era when my royal friends and family members were in power. As a result, I was targeted by some of the Iranian diaspora as “collaborator”. Can one blame Renata Tebaldi performing her art during Mussolini’s era or Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, the famous soprano of the Berlin Opera being artistically active in Nazi Germany?  But I don’t fool myself, surely where it was never “home” to me, being lynched then and now could be, and is  the fate of many artists, leftists, atheists  and liberals  like myself!

In spite of enduring bitter experiences in the past, I have always kept admiring the positive aspects of projects before or after the revolution, yet I still feel the stabbing pain in my heart from its negative facets. It seems that in our world people believe that the majority of votes constitute a regime, yet ignore the fact that any government with lack of respect for human rights has no legitimacy and this fact has always been a characteristic of Iran’s history. Hopefully, this unwanted trip called “life” will end sooner than later, far away from the land where I was hardly appreciated and constantly harassed brutally by the Savak’s fabricated shameful rumours whose repercussions I can still feel today. The more I study world history, the more man’s inhumanity to man disgusts me.

In most countries with CIA-backed regimes the fabrication of rumours was commonly used as a means of political pressure and Iran was not an exception. The first victims of this conspiracy in Iran were the members of the Royal Family. It commenced with stories about the Crown Prince Reza, only two years old at that time, being deaf! Then, during the coronation ceremonies in 1967, rumours circulated about the sudden death of the Queen Mother who had been allegedly replaced by a double! Another rumour was about the Shah’s decision to divorce Queen Farah and remarry again! Last but not least, close to the end of the regime, when there was a picture of the frail monarch circulating, it was rumoured that he was shot by his nephew, the son of Princess Fatemeh!

Having nowhere else to go, they besieged the individuals with families related to the regime like mine. There came a buzz about “my wedding” and is it not funny that I never found out if I was the bride or the bridegroom?! I find it droll that those who regurgitated this fabricated rumour never asked themselves why there were no pictures or documentation of such a public elaborate event? Undoubtedly, this was a bad publicity stunt on their part. Still, as the saying goes, bad publicity is better than no publicity and I made a fortune out of it commercially in my business and I couldn’t be happier playing the game socially. As a matter of fact, if I were not carrying this doomed family name, my life wouldn’t be under such a shameful scrutiny based on false rumours and my artistic contributions to the nation’s culture would not have been overlooked.

Sadly, even today, despite a larger number of educated people in Iran, this frivolous rumour keeps resonating as if no other problem existed in their country. Personally, I look upon this petty episode with total irrelevance, believing only in the pursuit of excellence. I shall always cherish those who praised me and never believed in these rumours, which expose a retrograde face of Iran consuming cheap fabrications, indulging in sadism, intolerance, and now, added to these habits, a taste for increased worldwide religious fanaticism.

After all, one should not forget that the majority of these Iranians live in the 14th century according to their calendar and do not share the modern values of the rest of the world. Yet ironically, they depend on the West, (the same nations that they despise and cry “death to….”) , for simple products like needles to larger items such as airplanes, pharmaceuticals, etc. Even when they leave Iran, they still have their medieval culture and folklore of their origins embedded within their soul. Truly as they say, a leopard can not change its spots! It would be wishful thinking to dream that Iranians would put more effort into treating their animals more humanely or keeping their toilets in their mosques and homes clean and sanitary, instead of shamelessly, after decades, attacking those who had contributed to the growth of art and culture in their country.

My famous boutique “Number One” was the first commercial activity to be sanctioned with a two week closure under the monarchy, disguised amongst allegations of over pricing and the sale of illegally imported items. This was totally unfounded and wrong. I always prided myself in promoting local products and keeping low prices so that people from all walks of life could enjoy wearing my clothes. Ironically, since all I designed for the Last Empress’s wardrobe was an innovation of local handicrafts and materials, yet “Number One” was fined ten times successively without the right of defence in any of the so called “unconstitutional” tribunals. After the first presentation out of the of nine TV concerts series where I was the unpaid producer with Daryoush as artist, the Savak arrested us both for no reason; nevertheless, I still courageously aired my other eight concerts .

Tragically, from Shams Tabrizi to Sadegh Hedayat and many others of different calibres, we were born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hence, we prefer to die far away from a place where we could never rightfully feel at home. One lives only once and home is where human rights are respected, even relatively rather than never, which is the case in our birthland as depicted throughout its history. After all, one can not deny how Shahpour, the Sassanid King, used to step on the back of the captured Roman Emperor to climb his horse, a barbaric act that went on for ten years. If this is not the root of sadism and disrespect for human rights as an ancient tradition and practice in Iran, what else is it?

This site is a generous gift from my friends, and it remains as my artistic testament, with my deepest gratitude to my beloved ones:

Text:

  • Dr. Mina Marefat Ph.D.
  • Shahrzad Khosrovani MSc. Political science

Architectural Documents:

  • Hamidreza Ahmadi , Architect
  • Dr.Mina Marefat, Architect
  • Amir Anoushfar, Architect
  • Reza-Noor Bakhtiar, Photographer
  • Reza Djavadi, Architect
  • Atta Omdvar, Architect

Photographs:

  • Kamran Adl, Photographe
  • Ebrahim Golestan, Film Director and Writer
  • Bahman Djalali, Photographer
  • Emilio Gentilini, Photographer

Technical consultant & web designer:

  • Eurasite