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We Have no Background in Urban Art, Let’s not Have Claims as Well.

Gholamreza Zozani has started his work in this city with elements of Nowruz. He said that he was one of those who witnessed and played a role in the establishment of the artists' house. He is one of those who believes that with art, people get better. Since the very first years that Hadi Mozaffari came up with the idea of ​​setting up an artists' house, he worked in this house until 2014. After that, he travels around the country and leaves his mark in big cities. Mohsen Saraaji has evaluated urban art in this city so much that he has published two volumes of books entitled "Beautiful City" and these days he has made the largest statue of "Rostam" in Iran in one of our city's amusement parks. In an hour with the Shahr-Ara newspaper, Saraaji talked about urban sculpture, temporary urban elements, and urban art in general.
There are two issues with urban elements and sculptures; one is the permanent elements, which were there from the beginning, and the other is the temporary elements, which are more occasional and are considered as emerging phenomenon. What is the difference between the two?
They differ in the way they are expressed and the way they are presented. We should not look at the work that we want to provide temporarily in the same way as the work that is going to be installed permanently. We need more time to create a permanent element and to come up with its idea. The permanent element is supposed to be identifying, so in addition to spending time, we need to have a more holistic view and not be limited to our own thoughts. The issue of identity in the city and again in the urban identity of Mashhad is a very complex issue, but anyway, different angles must be considered and, for example, one cannot only pay attention to its artistic aspect.
There is a good opportunity here to talk about the same temporary elements of the city that you yourself were the initiator of this process. Where does all this ups and downs about temporary urban elements in Mashhad come from?
Because urban management is not sustainable and every four years an idea dominates this process, these differences and contradictions arise. There must be a single thought that if urban management changes, that thought will not change; not to say, for example, that the previous ones worked for a few years and turned the city into a kindergarten, and now we want to revolutionize urban art. These problems arise when that single view does not exist. In the advanced cities of the world, urban management does not interfere in executive affairs. In fact, urban management enters the field of policy-making and leaves the rest to artists.
In those early years, when you were with the founders of the House of Artists in the field of urban management, you faced the same challenges. Undoubtedly, there have been mistakes in your work that you did not reach that unity in the process.
We also did trial and error. We also tried to work as much as possible and no more during that period; because until then, urban art did not exist in any city as it is seen now. We shifted towards temporary works in the very first years. Last year we shifted towards the production of lasting works. At the same time, we were criticized for "why do you do temporary work?" Well, if we wanted to make a permanent work from the beginning, it would definitely be a poor job and we would have to collect it after a while, and it was costly, so we were gaining experience in that period. After three or four years of experience, we built permanent works. You will see again that in our time and now, despite those experiences, no significant and lasting work has been produced.
Even in those years, the statue established in Janbaz Square was so poor that it was replaced after about a year.
These all come at a cost, and that was the cost we paid to gain experience. We tried to use local artists, and local artists had less experience compared to Tehran artists. It is the same now. Some of my friends may be upset, but the people of the capital are more experienced than us, and that is a fact they had more and better observations. Quality is also the product of good experience.
But in the temporary elements, Mashhad is leading.
Yes; we are a leader in this field.
Well, that leading has become a good experience for artists in this field.
Looking at temporary and permanent elements requires two different perspectives.
Now it can be said that your experience in that period was right; the experience that has led to this development. At least in the field of temporary elements.
For that time, yes, but we should grow now, not to continue to experience and repeat it. Look; we cannot create lasting works now with the themes of joy and cheerfulness on which we used to build Nowruz elements. These are the two different angles I am talking about. We really cannot move towards the production of permanent works with that support. On the other hand, in the field of making temporary elements, we also faced a change in policies. The next challenge in this area are the artists themselves; the fact that the artists themselves do not know whether art is for art or art is for people. It happens that when you see an artist does something popular, he is attacked by other artists. On the other hand, he creates a work of art that is difficult to understand and is a non-executive work.
Is the basis of this issue justified? Shouldn't public and popular (temporary) work be made as long as they are criticized?
Basically there is no problem in creating a temporary work, but we need to know when, in what format, for what audience, and where this public and temporary work is to be screened. The problem is that the artist does not know where the work he has done is going to be located. In his imagination, he has assumed a place and designed it. Right now in this urban art exhibition, we are witnessing ideas and designs that it is not clear where they are designed for. If you look at the works of artists sent to the Mashhad Urban Arts Biennial, you will see that none of them were designed for this biennial. I have seen many of these works at other similar events in the country. I repeat, during the period that we were active, we also had these problems. A plan was chosen, it was made, and then we looked for a location.
The fact that we are sitting here and talking about this is the result of the same trials and errors and improvements, but we still face a threefold challenge in this regard; on one hand, the city administration must prepare the city space to welcome spring. The artist, on the other hand, must be careful not to create a weak work, even if it is temporary. On the other hand, the citizens are expecting and a taste has been created for them in this regard.
You see, we have no background in urban art, so we should not make any claims. Emotional and superficial ideas cause harm. We have to emulate because we have no background in this field. This patterning and copying makes urban art vulnerable. The copying has existed both when my friends and I worked and now. Why is the copying exist? Because this art is an imported art. No one has come to translate for us what the world's pioneer sculptors said and did. This is the main issue ahead of us.
The next issue we face is the lack of a network of urban issues. When this network does not exist, we do not know what the city needs are. As a result, these gaps have forced the audience to interact with the works
Well, the taste changes. At one time, poor works were produced and people would go and take pictures with these works, and this was not a happy thing; because we knew what we were presenting to the audience. Our task was to provide a better work. We had to present the work by reading about it. We have done good work, but they have been done with study, while most of the poor works are done without study and without the criteria we talked about, and this is what weakens urban art in Mashhad.
Another serious disadvantage that has weakened the field is that in all eras a small number of artists in this field present designs and ideas. It's not important for these people to do a good job, they just want to work. You get statistics to see how many people worked in all these years. They do not care at all about the identity you are talking about. The urban management also has to work with them; because he has to deliver his projects. They must prepare the city, for example, for the Decade of Dignity. The city should be different for Nowrouz, and because city managers are very busy, they start them late, and this delay leaves those who are just looking to work free of worry while the artist who want to do a good job not to enter this process.
Has this year's call for Spring House, which in your time was called the "Welcome to Spring" project, avoided this haste? Considering that the call was published a few months earlier. Will idea reinforcement workshops be held? Do you think professionals will attend this workshop by this call?
A professional is working for his heart, not for a call.
We have to change the procedure. With this cost, professionals have to come to terms with it. Otherwise, lasting and identity work will not be produced. Professionals should be invited. We must have a holistic look at the city. In temporary elements, works can also be left to students, but for permanent sculptures we should not resort to calls. The formalities must be abandoned. In my opinion, the call has lost its function. Here again, there is the scandal of rent.
We have to separate the spaces. This is an experience that we have gained over the years. We have paid a lot for these experiences. Well, we have to use these experiences. Works that need a call should be clear. The work to be ordered must also be specified. We should not call for the work we want to entrust to professional artists.