NOT FOR SALE AND DISTRIBUTION IN IRAN
For their first solo-show in Tehran, Broomberg and Chanarin embrace one of the most sacred names in Iranian literature, Sadeq Hedayat. Their exhibition focusses on his haunting novel, The Blind Owl.
As part of a group of Marxist intellectuals, Hedayat was antimonarchical, anti-Islam and critical of the conservative literary establishment. As a result, he was made to pledge to the official censors in 1935 never to publish again.
Two years later Hedayat went to Bombay where he produced, in defiance of Reza Shah’s censors, just 50 copies of the The Blind Owl in his own handwritten text. The first page of which was marked, “Not for sale and distribution in Iran”.
The book, which was initially passed from hand to hand by friends, is today translated into 29 languages and widely regarded as having established an authentic example of Modernist Persian fiction with its profoundly radical aesthetics. Hedayat belongs to a limited group of authors who have found ways to speak to many cultures simultaneously.
Despite its almost immediate acceptance as a major literary work, it remains banned in Iran in its original version and a heavily censored copy was recently approved.
The book is not only considered politically explosive, it’s deep melancholia, sense of alienation and its confrontation with the absurdity of human existence, led to the myth that the book has caused many suicides. Hedayat’s biography renders this frightening tale all the more confronting. In 1951 he left Tehran, went to Paris where he took his own life under the spell of his “black dog of a mood”.
In an attempt to quietly by-pass the local censorship laws, Broomberg and Chanarin have produced 50 copies of the book in Farsi Braille. The exhibition will feature the copper plates used to produce the copies and for the duration of the show someone will read and perform the text from the braille version.