(A film and installation) PHOTOGRAPHIC GALLERY HIPPOLYTE 2019 (AUGUST)

The Iranian Metal Coffee is a film and installation about Iranian metal music and a café for musicians in Tehran. In December 2017, I met the guitarist-composer Arian at a café in Tehran. I gradually understood the role of the café as a meeting place for musicians, artists and philosophers. Together with Arian and his colleagues, we decided to make a film that highlights the particular role of the café and metal music in Iranian society. In March 2018, we recorded Aria’s and Dark Matter Band’s music, and discussed  politics, culture, poetics and sexuality.

The café is part of the “underground” culture of Tehran. It’s existence is only partially known to state authorities. Neither are they fully aware of the purpose of the meetings in the café. The café is part of a network where Iranian young people live relatively freely until/unless the police  finds them for some reason. A person that is found in a wrong place with an unauthorized substance such as alcohol can be detained, imprisoned or subjected to whipping. The same applies to political statements or actions that directly question the dominant power.

The image that is transmitted from Iran to the outside world is very unilateral. The Tehran Café creates a counter reality for the representations that the media has spread. My work does not question these parallel realities and interpretations, but  instead tells about a different kind of Iran where artists and intellectuals are looking for a way and a chance for change. The work is not about scandals, but about the isolated Iran. There is a significant number of secularized intellectuals in Tehran that have got their education in the Iranian universities. They debate and discuss in public and semi-public spaces. These discussions are not gendered, they involve both women and men. As leisure activities in Iran are limited, many young people study politics, philosophy, culture and art at home with their computers and come to the cafés to debate with their friends.

The aim of the Dark Matter Band is a deliberate change in the political “climate” of Tehran. The band is part of the of social and ideological shift in Iranian society. It tests the boundaries between censorship and future opportunities. If a heavy metal band makes a threatening move towards the ruling power, they can be detained and sentenced to a court. The film includes scenes of Tehran’s first heavy metal concert, of musicians’ leisure time and of their life at home as well. In a gallery space, the film alternates with music of the band. If the movie is 20 minutes long, the music will be played for 10 minutes after the film. Then the loop will start again.