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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Israeli art in heart of Tehran

Tome Bookshtein

Photographer Tome Bookshtein surprised to learn that pictures she took in Tel Aviv are displayed in art gallery in Iranian capital

Iranian art lovers, who flocked to the international photography exhibition presented last month at an esteemed art gallery in Tehran, had no idea that two of the pictures presented in the exhibition were taken in Tel Aviv – by Israeli photographer Tome Bookshtein.
So how do Israeli works of art make it to the heart of the Iranian capital? It all began when Tome Bookshtein, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, took pictures of buildings of the Histadrut labor federation in Tel Aviv, in a bid to express the social aspects hiding behind the buildings.
Bookshtein’s work drew the attention of contemporary art curator Sharon Tuval. For the past year, Sharon has been collecting pictures of women photographers from all over the Middle East for the exhibition “Individual Journey to Poetry,” which he created together with Austrian photographer Sini Coreth.

‘Anonymity cancels any option for dialogue’

The exhibition, which was initiated by the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s Cultural Forum, presented the work of eight women photographers from Israel, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Oman, China, Japan and Austria. After the exhibition was displayed in Vienna and at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, the Austrian Foreign Ministry sent it to Iran.
The owners of the Tehran art gallery agreed to display the Israeli photographer’s work as well, as long as they could write “anonymous photographer” instead of “Tome Bookshtein, Israel” so as not to get in trouble with the Ayatollah regime.
“We couldn’t believe it. We’re so happy that Israeli works of art are being displayed at such times in the heart of Tehran,” said Tuval.
“I never expected to present there,” added Bookshtein. “It’s a shame that the Iranians didn’t mention my name and where I’m from. Apart from the fact that I would have loved to get credit, the anonymity cancels any option for a dialogue and slightly misses the point: Promoting a social and gender-related dialogue that will also reflect on political awareness.”