JOURNEYING IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH: THE SUFI IN ABBAS KIAROSTAMI'S POETIC GAZE

Curator's Note

This mini video essay could perhaps best be described as a journey in search of the Sufi in Abbas Kiarostami’s poetic gaze. His films, photographic series, poetry and artistic installations, lend themselves naturally to a Sufi reading and I have aimed to express this in the essay through a particular combination of moving and still images, music and text. It is a Sufi refrain from the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, that I first heard in the silence of the free spirited dance of the plastic bags in Kiarostami’s 1984 film First Graders. The Sufi concept of deconstructing the given reality and an abandoning of tutored responses regales the sequence as order and disorder, construction and deconstruction invade each other. As Kiarostami himself muses in Walking with the Wind, a collection of his poetry, White of a pigeon erased in white clouds— a snowy day. The motif of journeys which span Kiarostami’s films, photography and poetry lends itself similarly, to a metaphorical interpretation of a Sufi journey in search of the truth. The sequence from Bread and the Alley dwells on cross roads and alternate routes to different futures. Kiarostami uses multiple devices to highlight the mutual existence of a universe of diverse realities, from using a child’s fresh perspective of a man walking through snow ‘dunes’ in the Snow White photoart series to commonly playing refracted visions of a world by night through the windshield and rain in his docudrama Ten as also the obscure, refracted world in Close-Up and his photographic collection Rain. The twisted road winding through the fields and the single motorcycle journeying along it in Wind Will Carry Us resonate with the powerful imagery of the little boy Ahmed’s relentless journeying in Where is the Friend’s Home? The longer the searcher in each journey traverses, the closer the realisation that the spatial boundaries of the outer journey are collapsed with the culmination of the inner journey that realises that the truth lies within the confines of the seeker. As I saw more of his work, I sensed an inner world that Kiarostami was journeying towards. With his passing, it suddenly became imperative that I see further into the dimensions of this alternate layer of reality that he was defining for himself and for us, because I know now that I can never ask him, "Sir, what was in your heart when you made this?"

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