RADIO // Off The RailShoja Azari
Originally aired 4/30/10
Artist and filmmaker Shoja Azari sits down with Phong Bui in advance of his May 2010 exhibition Shoja Azari: Icons at New York's Leila Heller Galleries. Azari talks about the various familial, social and political tensions that he lived through while growing up in Shiraz, Iran in the 1960s and 70s, and how his initial studies in psychology and philosophy have led him to his current interests and career, one that can be traced to his early introduction to painting by a friend. Having since worked in a variety of artistic media and genres--and having arrived at film fairly late, catalyzed by the unique silence of the movie theater--Azari discusses his artistic exploits in poetry, theater, painting and filmmaking, and relates innocently bringing his uncle's conservative family to see Pasolini's lurid Arabian Nights. After completing his studies at film school, Azari returned to Iran during the Iranian Revolution, a period he recalls through both the hopeful prism of the earliest days of the Revolution and the painful and dispiriting experience of watching the formation of the state that soon thereafter began to form in its stead. They then discuss his cinematic work, from his earliest unfinished films to his first professional film, K, which is based on three short stories by Franz Kafka, of whose work he shares his personal interpretations; also related are his experiences making his most experimental film, Maria De Los Angeles, and his recent collaboration with Shirin Neshat, Women Without Men, based on the novel by Shahrnush Parsipur, as well as his "video paintings," created in collaboration with painter Shahram Karimi and inspired by Tarkovsky's 1979 film Stalker.
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