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art | John Feffer
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The Art of Detente

On a wall in Boston, artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo is taking a quiet but historic step forward in U.S.-Iranian relations. His fanciful mural on an air intake structure in Boston’s Dewey Square represents a first. Ghadyanloo, who has completed more than a hundred surrealistic murals in downtown Tehran, is the first Iranian artist to do work commissioned by municipal authorities in both Iran...
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Iran: The Calligraphic Challenge

Mehdi Saeedi turns words into art. The Iranian graphic artist has transformed Farsi script into posters, paintings, and other works. He has taken a traditional form, calligraphy, and made something even more startling and beautiful from it. In Saeedi’s posters, a line of script turns into a bird, with an olive branch in its beak. Don Quixote rides a horse of words, a reminder that the...
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The Art of Dissidence and Diplomacy

The position of the body is the same. The figure is prone on the beach, near the water’s edge. The head is face down in the sand, and the face is just visible. One arm is close to the body, palm upward. The knees are bent, the feet together. This is not Alan Kurdi (initially misreported as Aylan), the three-year-old Syrian child whose body washed up on shore in Turkey. It is the Chinese artist...
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The Lacquer Box

My wife and I lived in Tokyo for three years. At the end of our time there, we threw a going away party for ourselves. “No gifts,” we told all our friends. Instead, they could bring something for the potluck meal. Oh, and they had to take something away with them. We were giving away everything we didn’t want to bring back to the States: some pots and pans, a table, a bag of...
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Creating a Spectacle

Vaclav Havel wrote for the theater. When change came to Czechoslovakia in November 1989, the velvet revolutionaries of Prague met and planned in the Magic Lantern theater. The events of those ten days that shook the country unfolded like a massive, open-air performance, with dramatic speeches, a soundtrack provided by local bands, and a huge and enthusiastic audience. As with any theatrical...
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