My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes: Uncensored Iranian Voices featuring Lila Azam Zanganeh
From the New York Public Library, a conversation about Iranian politics and culture with the editor and contributors to the book My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes. Taking part are: editor Lila Azam Zanganeh and contributors Azar Nafisi (author of Reading Lolita in Tehran), Shirin Neshat (author of Shirin Neshat: 2002-2005), Roya Hakakian (author of Journey from the Land of No), Azadeh Moaveni (author of Lipstick Jihad) and poet Naghmeh Zarbafian. Actress Soraya Broukhim opens the event by reading selections from the book.
Lila Azam Zanganeh
Lila Azam Zanganeh was born in Paris to Iranian parents. She is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Superieure, where she studied literature and philosophy, and holds a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University. She initially moved to the United States to teach literature, cinema and Romance languages at Harvard University. She is a contributor to Le Monde and has been published in The New York Times, The Herald Tribune, The Nation, and La Repubblica. Her first book, My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes, is a literary antidote to disinformation on Iran and Iranians with essays, interviews, photos and illustrations from an array of Iranian literary and artistic talents. Their interpretations veer between hilarity and despair, and offer color-studded and incisive perspectives on life, identity, and sexuality in—and in exile from—the Islamic Republic. She is currently at work on a book about Vladimir Nabokov.
Soraya Broukhim is an actress born in New York City with both an Iranian and European background, Soraya Broukhim is a graduate of Fordham University, British American Academy of Dramatic Arts, National Theatre Institute, and St. Petersburg State Arts Theatre Academy. Among her recent New York City theatre credits are Gut Girls, Woyzeck, Innocent Erendira, Logic of the Birds, The American Revolution, and Afghan Women by William Mastrosimone. She performed Antigone as part of an UNESCO/ITI International Theatre Conference. Broukhim has also starred in two independent films Love in Three Minutes and The Push. She is currently working with Ripe Time Co., on Betrothed, an adaptation of two short stories, Dybbuk by Anton Chekhov and The Treatment of Bibi Haldar by Pulitzer Prize writer Jhumpa Lahiri. Broukhim is slated to play Simone Weil in a documentary about her life.
Roya Hakakian is a journalist and writer. She has collaborated with the journalism units on 60 Minutes, A&E's "Travels With Harry" hour, and ABC Documentary Specials with the late Peter Jennings, Discovery and The Learning Channel. She writes for numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and is a contributor to the Weekend Edition of NPR's All Things Considered. She is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations. She provides commentary on the subject of the Middle East and human rights to the media and has appeared on CSPAN-Book TV, CNN International, CBS Early Show, and Now with Bill Moyers. Hakakian is the author of two collections of poetry in Persian and Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran.
Azadeh Moaveni grew up in California, her parents having left Iran in 1976, three years before the Islamic revolution. The unresolved tension she felt between her cultural identity as an Iranian and an American led her to go to Iran as a journalist.
For two years she wrote about Iran for Time, finding a complex and varied reality. Her stay was bracketed by the pro-democracy student demonstrations of 1999 and President Bush's "axis of evil" speech in 2001, after which the government clamped down hard on dissent and on journalists. She was compelled to leave in fear for her safety.
Her book Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran is the account of Moaveni's time in Iran, and of her quest to better understand her cultural identity.
Azar Nafisi is a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran.
She has lectured and written extensively on the political implications of literature and culture, as well as the human rights of the Iranian women and girls and the important role they play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran.
Azar Nafisi has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her cover story, "The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution's Woman Problem" published in The New Republic has been reprinted into several languages. She is the author of Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov's Novels.
She is currently working on two books, one tentatively titled The Republic of the Imagination, which is about the power of literature to liberate minds and peoples, and the other, Things I Have Been Silent About, about culture, history, and loss.
Although Shirin Neshat lives and works in the United States, her artwork explores issues of her native Islamic society, especially the position of women. She uses the specifics of her background culture to create works that communicate universal ideas about loss, meaning, and memory. Neshat’s most recent work has consisted of films in the form of dual video projections. By projecting images on opposing walls, the viewer, who stands in the middle of this work, is engaged in a visual conversation, physically experiencing both screens, thus eliminating the passivity permitted by traditional cinema situations. Neshat’s new film, Soliloquy, which she directed and acted in and is being premiered at the Carnegie International, tells the story of a Muslim woman who is in constant negotiation between East and West, between tradition and present-day pressures.
Shirin Neshat’s photographs and videos have been included in many international exhibitions, including Jurassic Technologies Revenant, the 10th Biennale of Sydney (1996); 5th International Istanbul Biennale and Trade Routes: History and Geography. 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997); Unfinished History, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1998) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1999); and Exploding Cinema, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Heavenly Figure, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Zeitwenden, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, in cooperation with Kunstmuseum, Bonn, SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, La Ville, le Jardin, la Mémoire-1998, 2000, 1999, Académie de France, Villa Medici, Rome, and 48th Venice Biennale (1999). In 1996 Neshat's work was presented by Creative Time for Anchorage, Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Solo exhibitions of Neshat's work have been presented at Franklin Furnace, New York (1993); Centre d'art contemporain, Fribourg (1996); Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana (1997); Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York, and Tate Gallery of Modern Art at St. Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, London (1998); and The Art Institute of Chicago (1999). In 1996 Neshat was awarded a grant from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation.
Naghmeh Zarbafian, Poet and Independent Scholar, Iran