Friday, November 3, 2017

Underline#1 [a new magazine]


I'm editing a new magazine on arts for British Council Iran called Underline. The digital quarterly publication can be downloaded for free here in both Persian and English editions. This is the editorial from the first issue, Autumn 2017. -- Ehsan Khoshbakht

Editorial

The Swinging Sixties – a period of cultural change characterised by optimism, hedonism and extraordinary artistic creativity – was not only a British phenomenon…

Before elaborating any further, allow me to share the good news: Underline, the online arts journal of the British Council Iran, is now a proper quarterly e-magazine, available both as a free download and for online browsing. We believe the magazine format can give greater coherence to the stories we want to tell.

The articles in this issue are themed around the changing culture of the 1960s – the happiest (and hippest) note struck for UK-Iran cultural relations.

Following the arrival into Iran of new British cultural exports – chiefly cinema, music, theatre productions and literary translations – the scepticism of the post-Coup years temporarily dissolved. Iran was a country striving to become revitalised and modern. Iranians were not content to be merely passive recipients of these new trends. They adapted, transformed and reinterpreted that which captivated them from abroad and made their own cultural exports during this significant period of transition.


This issue of Underline explores the stories behind this mutual interest and exchange between Iran and the UK in the 1960s, in six essays penned by experts in a variety of artistic fields. In addition, Spanish artist Naiel Ibarrola has designed and painted the vibrant, psychedelic cover of the first issue and has also illustrated the articles.


After diving deep into the world of Beatlemania, James Hadley Chase, Gunga Din and the Shiraz Arts Festival, the magazine moves on to look at current events. Our interview section features conversations with three key contemporary Iranian artists who have gained international recognition. All were interviewed to coincide with presentations of their works in the UK.

Iran's cultural interests in the UK in the 1960s were, of course, part of a larger project, that of the country's pre-revolutionary westernisation. In retrospect, however, one can detect a genuine impact whose effects are still evident in spite of drastic socio-political changes in Iran within the last half-century. In this issue of Underline, the shared inspiration that was felt among artists in both countries as a result of developments in the 1960s is more clearly revealed. The ways in which such relations might be productively re-engaged and extended today might also become more clear.

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