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Journal and online magazine on contemporary art in Iran. Interview with the editor.
By Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt | Mar 2003

This publication under the sign of the peacock feather is a treasure chest for everyone interested in Iranian art. The logo may lead us to expect a rather traditional orientation of the paper; particularly the online edition, however, treats primarily installations, performances, video, land art, and other experimental practices in the art scene of Iran and in the Iranian Diaspora.

Tavoos is the Persian word for peacock, a cross-cultural symbol of paradise, rebirth, the incorruptibility and immortality of the soul. The beautiful colors of the peacock’s feathers made the editors chose this name as representative of the kaleidoscopic arts of Iran.

Tavoos Quarterly is a magazine that appears four times a year, both in Persian and English. It covers all fields of the visual arts and includes also contributions on music, theatre, film, and architecture. Until now, four issues have been published, two of them as a double (between 1999 and 2001). Although material has already been compiled for a further six numbers, these cannot go to print because of financial difficulties.

Fortunately Tavoos Online, the English language website of the magazine continues to appear together with a newsletter, and is updated regularly with information on art in Iran and its presence in other parts of the world.

Manijeh Mir-'Emadi on Tavoos
E-mail interview with the editor and director of Iranian Art Publishing, Tavoos Quarterly and Tavoos Online

Haupt & Binder: How was Tavoos Online developed?

Ms. Manijeh Mir-'Emadi: Tavoos Quarterly, the art magazine was first published in 1999 by Iranian Art Publishing and was from the onset, at par with international standards. Iranian Art Publishing began its activities in 1992 with the publishing of books on contemporary Iranian art and known artists and has until now published several qualitative bilingual books on these artists. It then began to produce Tavoos Quarterly. Right from the start, Tavoos Quarterly had a website by which the magazine and books published by Iranian Art Publishing were introduced to and recognized in international circles. A year after the launch of Tavoos Quarterly, I decided to also embark on the task of launching Tavoos Online, dedicating to it an independent section of the website, where it could function as an online magazine. Dr. Ahmad Nadalian, artist, and professor at art universities in Iran, had previous experience with the Internet and in directing an online newsletter, and agreed to accept to be the managing editor of Tavoos Online. The experienced and artistic staff of Tavoos Quarterly now maintains this online magazine and authors the contributions.

H&B: Who are the target readers of Tavoos Online?

Mir-'Emadi: During the years of activity with Iranian Art Publishing and later with Tavoos Quarterly, I found that the art world and Iranians living abroad had little knowledge of contemporary Iranian art. The main goal of launching this site was not an attempt to attract a specific group or audience but was to inform the world of the current situation of contemporary Iranian art. However, eventually we realized that we had in fact attracted a specific group which was made up of young, artistic, or art-loving Iranians wishing to learn more about their country's artistic activities and development. As a result, most of the artists introduced or profiled in our online newsletter are also young and actively pursuing more modern styles of art. I must also mention that most international organizations receive their information
regarding contemporary Iranian art and artists through this site.

H&B: How have the reactions been in Iran itself? How about the use of the Internet there?

Mir-'Emadi: Most of our subscribers live abroad; however, we also have subscribers within Iran who are made up of the young and patrons of the arts. I realize that should I launch the Persian version of this site, the number of subscribers within Iran would increase drastically. In the past, Persian language sites were not supported by web browsers and this made it difficult for users to reach the site. Recently however, new developments have made this possible and I hope to launch the Persian section of the site in the near future.

The Internet in Iran, as in other parts of the world has changed the way and speed in which information, cultural and artistic events are transmitted. It has affected cultural and artistic publications, both in the East and West. For us in Iran, as in the West, the Internet is a window to the world through which we can see and be seen. Our cultures are brought closer and encouraged to interact. The Internet plays the same important and broad role here as it does in the West. It has questioned the limitations imposed on the media, and given the young generation the possibility to break the
barriers against information sources.

H&B: Have the goals of Tavoos Online or its focus changed in the past years?

Mir-'Emadi: Yes and no. Over the past two years, we have added new goals to our initial agenda. When we first began, our site was limited to a news section. Today, it includes a section on artists and one on articles. In the former, artists are introduced and profiled and in the latter, contemporary Iranian art is reported on and discussed. These sections are being expanded.

H&B: How are the proceedings for an edition organized? Who is responsible for the various assignments?

Mir-'Emadi: We receive information and news from all over the world. A small portion of the news we report on is sent to us via e-mail and attachments especially from Iranian artists living abroad. I gather, review, and select the main portion of the news here at our offices in Tehran. Tavoos Quarterly, as an art magazine is situated at the heart of all artistic and cultural events within Iran and follows every aspect and all news as related to the arts. Aside from the general news on the arts, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art's announcements, gallery openings, and exhibitions are sent to us in the form of invitations and faxes and are announced on Tavoos Online.

A section dedicated to introducing artists, publishing articles, reports, and critiques are provided by the magazine staff. Dr. Ahmad Nadalian, who in the initial months of activity of Tavoos Online personally oversaw many of the activities, is now managing editor for the general activities of the site, in consultation with myself. He writes all articles in Persian for the site. The articles are translated and edited by Media Farzin and Simindokht Dehghani. The office manager is Marjan Sakaki and she handles all public relation matters. Sahar Shahnazi was in charge of responding to e-mails, and updating the site: this position has been recently filled by a new employee. As activities in this area increase, so shall the number of employees.

H&B: How is Tavoos Online related to Tavoos Quarterly? Does the online edition have a certain independence versus the printed edition, which has not been published for quite some time now?

Mir-'Emadi: Tavoos Online is in fact a part of Tavoos Quarterly and these two in effect complement one another. In the first issues of the bimonthly newsletter, portions from the magazine were used as news; however, at present what is reported on in the newsletter is expanded upon in the magazine.

Currently our situation is such that we have been keeping current with the issues but due to a lack of financial support, numbers 7 to 12 have not yet been published. Issues 7 through 10 are dedicated to the "Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures in the Field of Art" and the "Globalization of Art."

H&B: How do you expect Tavoos Online to develop in the future?

Mir-'Emadi: The future of the Internet is not predictable. Many aspects have a hand in what takes place on the net. We hope to create, through Tavoos Online, a clearer and more exposed image of the art and culture of contemporary Iran for people around the world, including Iranian expatriates. Although the age we live in has been titled the "Information and Technology Age", the information we have of each other is either insufficient or incorrect. We would like to improve this situation in regards to our specific context and clarify the information. We hope to set up a platform through which all Iranian artists can be found with any search engine just by entering the respective key words.

Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt

Publishers of Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art and of Nafas Art Magazine. Based in Berlin, Germany.

Tavoos Quarterly
Tavoos Online

Published in Tehran, Iran, by Iranian Art Publishing


Art magazine

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