Abbas Kiarostami

June 9 – July 14, 2000
Gallery 2
Press Release

This exhibition is curated in collaboration with Olivier Renaud-Clement

This is the first exhibition of Abbas Kiarostami's photographs in the United States.

Abbas Kiarostami is known around the world for his acclaimed filmmaking. In 1997 he won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for The Taste of Cherry and on April 30th of this year he received the Akira Kurosawa Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Since 1970 he has directed 10 feature length films and over 10 short films. On July 28, 2000 New Yorker Films will release theatrically Kiarostami's most recent film, The Wind Will Carry Us, winner of Silver Lion Prize at the 1999 Venice Film Festival.

The relationship between Kiarostami's films and his photographs seems to be an equally informing dialogue. The photographs are not strict storyboards for Kiarostami's films, nor are they stills, yet they are clearly akin to the panorama and atmosphere that exists in his filmmaking.

The subject of Abbas Kiarostami's photography is the Iranian countryside. From the city of Tehran he travels, sometimes north, toward the Caspian Sea, and sometimes as far as Kurdistan, near the Iraqi border. The photographs are contemplative, clearly for Kiarostami at the time they were taken as well as for the viewer, in their stillness and simplicity. The steady hills, big skies and snow-covered expanses are reminiscent of traditional idyllic landscapes. However, indications of civilization in the photographs are subtly ubiquitous. Frequently there is a road, a field with the traces of a plow, or electrical lines stretching above the landscape. These slight and graceful reminders are the most basic phases of societal development that they almost escape identification as such. Foremost, Kiarostami has chosen to orient himself with aspects of nature; the variations as related to seasons of the year, the diverse terrain, the fluctuations and quality of light. The photographs do not depict scenes that most would associate with Iran based on what we know from the news; his observation is palpably absent of any political or cultural content. They reveal and share the pleasure and gratification Kiarostami gains from the beauty that he seeks out to experience and eternalize. Nonetheless, it is impossible to view the images without acknowledging the dissimilarity between the striking harmony of the photographs and the political state of the region.

"While photography is not necessarily an incitation to daydreaming, it can be. If dreaming consists of fleeing the city and its constraints, if dreaming means going back to sources – and, therefore, to nature – then photographing nature can be considered an incitation to dreaming. For someone who was born in an apartment and who is used to towering buildings, cars, traffic jams, underground tunnels, the language of advertising and whose life takes place beneath a gray and cloudy sky, nature has a whole other signification. In my opinion, this nature here is the opposite of human nature and its needs. We often have a tendency to forget this reality."

-Abbas Kiarostami

Excerpt from: Photographs, (Thirty Questions for Abbas Kiarostami Regarding his Photographs, By Michel Ciment), published 1999 by Hazan, page 18.


In New York City, The Wind Will Carry Us will open at The Lincoln Plaza and Quad Cinemas.