If you look closely, you can see that the man sleeping on the couch has the face of Adolf Hitler, while the two snakes about his shoulders have the faces of Mussolini and Tojo. His body and clothing, however, evoke the evil ruler Zahhāk, from Ferdowsi’s Shahname, the Persian national epic. In the image above, the evil ruler is dreaming of three kings who are coming to kill him – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.
The piece is part of a larger series created by a British graphic designer who incorporated traditional Persian themes in an effort to win the support of the Iranian people.
The British and Soviet forces invaded Iran from the north and south between August 25 and September 8, 1941. The reason for the invasion was that after the German offensive against the Soviet Union in June, they felt threatened the Iranian petroleum resources in their management, and they also intended to transmit war material from the Persian Gulf via rail to the Soviet Union. Although Iran was neutral, the Shah had basically done the inter-war modernization of the country with German help, and he refused to expel the German advisors on British request. After the peace treaty the British deposed him and expelled him to Egypt, and raised on the throne his son Reza Pahlavi, who represented the Anglo-American policy, and declared war on Germany. Subsequently, in November 1943 opened the Tehran conference with the participation of the three above kings, with the aim of coordinating the common war efforts and to open the second, western front.
The easy defeat of the Persian army and the humiliation of the occupation hit very hard the country’s public opinion. This was acerbated by the fact that the massive British buying-up of food for the troops caused a severe famine in the occupied zone, and that, on the principle of “divide and conquer”, both occupying forces excited the ethnic minorities living under their power against the Persian rule. All this is described in detail in Simin Daneshvar’s Savushun (1969), the key novel of 20th-century Iran.
It is understandable therefore, that on the occasion of the Tehran conference the British saw it opportune to present the purpose of their arrival in an easily perceptible visual form to the Persian people.
Additional historical context and images here:
Book of Kings [Poemas del Rio Wang]
Sebastião Salgado recently gave a brilliant TED talk on his story as a photographer and showed some images from his newest project, Genesis:
Brazilian-born Salgado, who shoots only using Kodak film, is known for his incredibly long-term projects, which require extensive travel and extreme lifestyle changes. Workers took seven years to complete and contained images of manual laborers from 26 countries, while Migrations took six years in 43 different countries on all seven continents. Most recently Salgado completed Genesis, an ambitious eight-year project that spanned 30 trips to the world’s most pristine territories, land untouched by technology and modern life. Among Salgado’s many travels for Genesis was a two-month hike through Ethiopia, spanning 500 miles with 18 pack donkeys and their riders. In the words of Brett Abbott, a Getty Museum curator, Salgado’s approach can only be described as “epic.”
Sebastião Salgado: The Silent Drama of Photography [TED]
Photographer Gabriele Galimberti has created an interesting photo essay in which she’s travelled around the world photographing kids with their most prized possessions. She commented on the differences – and similarities – she observed over the course of the project:
But how they play can reveal a lot. “The richest children were more possessive. At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them,” says the Italian, who would often join in with a child’s games before arranging the toys and taking the photograph. “In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”
Yet even children worlds apart share similarities when it comes to the function their toys serve. Galimberti talks about meeting a six-year-old boy in Texas and a four-year-old girl in Malawi who both maintained their plastic dinosaurs would protect them from the dangers they believed waited for them at night – from kidnappers and poisonous animals respectively. More common was how the toys reflected the world each child was born into: so the girl from an affluent Mumbai family loves Monopoly, because she likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day.
Pictured above is Maudy, from Kalulushi, Zambia. Below is Virginia, from American Fork, Utah.
Toy Stories [Gabrielle Galimberti]
Great piece with Charlie Bamforth, the head of Malting and Brewing Science and UC Davis.
The shortlist of winners for the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards is out, and there are some brilliant ones. Above is a piece entitled Tradition, by Reza Nezamdust of Iran. Below, is Return to Childhood Landscapes, taken by Hajdu Tamas on the train from Bucharest to Baia Mare in Romania.
The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards [TheAtlantic]
This beautifully-composed photograph depicts a winter scene in my favourite city, Krakow. the photographer is Martin Ryczek.
Two Beijing-based photographers, Huáng Qìngjūn and Mă Hóngjié, have been travelling around China getting peasant families to pose outside of their home with everything they own.
They arrange them in one single broad line, to make visible the most possible items, provided that they fit into one line, but usually they do. Normally they do not pile them up, but exhibit them one by one, just like they acquired them. The family is almost always sitting or standing in the middle, and even in the two or three exceptions they are shifted towards the house as a center. Wherever they have food reserves, rice sacks, corn pipes, they put them in the forefront as the symbol of abundance. As well as the animals…
Is it possible to live a whole life with so few things? While not so long ago a peasant household had about five hundred objects, most of which were used in daily activities, in an industrialized culture we are surrounded by even a hundred times more things per household. No matter how much we want to live a simple life and try to eliminate the unnecessary frippery around ourselves, a set of everyday objects reduced to this extreme implies poverty to us even without considering the condition of the houses.
This photograph of Central Park in Manhattan was taken by aerial photographer Sergey Semenov.
A new children’s book, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century, has removed the line above from the famous poem, in a zealous attempt not to encourage children to smoke. Here is Roger Ebert on the printing of a US postal stamp featuring a picture of Bette Davis with a photograph digitally removed from her fingers:
Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. Might as well strip away the toupees of Fred Astaire and Jimmy Stewart…
… Look, I hate smoking. It took my parents from me, my father with lung cancer, my mother with emphysema… When my mother was breathing oxygen through a tube, she’d take out the tube, turn off the oxygen, and light up. I avoid smokers. It isn’t allowed in our house. When I see someone smoking, it feels like I’m watching them bleed themselves, one drip at a time.
So we’ve got that established. On the other hand, I have never objected to smoking in the movies, especially when it is necessary to establish a period or a personality. I simply ask the movies to observe that, these days, you rarely see someone smoking except standing outside a building, on a battleground, in a cops’ hangout, in a crack house, in rehab, places like that. In an ordinary context, giving a character a cigarette is saying either (1) this is a moron, or (2) this person will die…
Two of the most wonderful props in film noir were cigarettes and hats. They added interest to a close up or a two-shot… These days men don’t smoke and don’t wear hats. When they lower their heads, their eyes aren’t shaded. Cinematographers have lost invaluable compositional tools. The coil of smoke rising around the face of a beautiful women added allure and mystery. Remember Marlene Dietrich. She was smoking when she said, “It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.”
…Movies can’t rewrite reality. The MPAA cautiously mentions smoking in their descriptions of movie ratings (even if it’s the Cheshire Cat and his hookah). If, by the time you’re old enough to sit through a movie, you haven’t heard that smoking is bad for you, you don’t need a movie rating, you need a foster home.