A Utopian Stage

Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis (1967–1977)

Curated by Vali Mahlouji / Archaeology of the Final Decade

The “Festival of Arts” was a radical artistic and cultural festival of performing arts, held between 1967-1977 in Shiraz and the ancient ruins of Persepolis.

Caligula, Albert Camus (playwright), NIRT Theatre Workshop – Persepolis, 1974

Caligula, Albert Camus (playwright), NIRT Theatre Workshop – Persepolis, 1974

Courtesy of Mehdi Khonsari

By the early 1970s, it had become one of the principal platforms for transnational experimental exchange of creativity and knowledge, hosting artists from around the world, amongst others important figures of the musical avant-garde like Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage. Interrupted by the Iranian Revolution of 1978/79 and declared decadent in a decree by Ayatollah Khomeini, all materials associated with the festival have been removed from access and officially remain banned in Iran. The exhibition project “A Utopian Stage” reconstructs this complex space of international modernity by highlighting the “third worldist” sensibilities of the immediate post-colonial period and tracing an exchange of knowledge across alternative (often non-European) plateaus.

In collaboration with SAVVY Contemporary