photo credits © The Kiarostami Foundation and Oklahoma City Museum of Art
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art opened Kiarostami: Beyond the Frame to the public on Oct. 15. The multimedia, retrospective survey of artworks by acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, photographer and visual artist Abbas Kiarostami marks the first American museum display since the artist’s death in 2016. While Kiarostami may not be a household name for many American families, he is world-renowned in the film and photography industries, and his background as a children’s book designer and the incredible breadth and depth of his artwork makes this exhibit a must-see for families. Here’s why:
- Immersive experiences and the wide variety of mediums expand children’s understanding of what constitutes art. There’s something truly magical about taking children to see an art exhibit where they get to become part of the art and where their notion of what art is gets new perspective. Some spaces in the exhibit are entirely immersive, including Sleepers, where visitors enter a dark room in which the inhabitants are just beginning to stir and the sounds of the city waking up can be heard. CEO & President Dr. Michael Anderson, co-curator of the Kiarostami exhibition, said this space gives kids especially a sense of a whole world being created with art.With such a variety of mediums presented in the exhibit, Anderson hopes all visitors, but especially kids, will be inspired about how they can use their own creativity.”The limits now are imagination, not technical abilities or tools because we have the tools to create artwork like you will see , so now it’s just about imagination,” said Anderson. “I really do hope this inspires [kids’] imaginations to think of all the things they can do with a camera phone or voice recorder — it opens a lot of possibilities for expression.”
- View famous art through a new lens. This exhibition features the world premiere of the famous Regardez-moi portfolio, Kiarostami’s series of photographs depicting visitors to the Louvre and other notable museums viewing famous works of art. In addition to providing accessibility to famous art depicted in the photographs that they might not ever see in person in their lifetime, kids will enjoy the scavenger hunt elements to this section of the exhibit. There is a correspondence between each painting or piece of art in the photograph and the individual captured viewing the piece. For example, in one image a woman with blonde hair is depicted in the foreground, and the color and texture of her hair mirrors the straw in the original painting.”You can find the things that go together with kids,” said Anderon. “This is a great exhibition to visit with multigenerational groups.”
- Gain cultural understanding. The Doors Without Keys space is a maze-like installment of 20 life-sized doors in which visitors are transported to Kairostami’s home country of Iran. In addition to enjoying the intricacies in the artwork on the doors and winding through the space, kids will hear the sounds of villages or cities, engaging all their senses in an immersive cultural experience to experience a country they may never visit in person.
- The exhibit will inspire powerful conversations for families. At the foundational level, Kiarostami’s work begs the question, “What is art?” Kids of all ages will be able to see all the many ways art can extend beyond the familiar mediums of photographs or paintings to include audio, video and technology, all of which together will help today’s high-tech kids consider the art they might create. Conversations with older kids could expand into discussing censorships as most of Kiarostami’s career occurred during strict censorship in Iran. Tweens and teens may be able to see both how expression in art and film differs between Iran and America as well as ingenious ways Kiarostami was able to skirt censorship in some ways during his career.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a comprehensive retrospective of Kiarostami’s feature films will screen in the Noble Theater, many of which have won international prizes, including the Palme d’Or, and frequently appear in surveys of the greatest films of all time.