Two weeks ago we went on a holiday to Iran. Objectif: visiting some great cities as Teheran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Persepolis, … . Never felt so welcome as a tourist in a country, and it must be said, I travel a lot.
Of course we did take a little time to meet some cartoonists while we were there.
It al started at 5 o’clock in the morning. When we arrived at the airport of Tabriz we were welcomed by Rahim Bahal Asgari, director of Tabriz cartoon with wonderful flowers. A rather difficult situation for me, because normally I would hug every cartoonist who offers me flowers and here I couldn’t even shake hands.
The day after Rahim showed us his city and in the afternoon a meeting was planned with the members of Tabriz Cartoon. I was rather surprised by the great number of young people who attended the meeting. In Belgium cartoonists who participate in contests are rather middle aged, here I met a lot of youngsters, some still studying in art school.
When we hear in Belgium the word ‘cartoonist’ we’ ll immediately think ‘man’, while here in Iran I see that most of them are women…. it is an other world.
After the meeting Fernand and I could select some 20 cartoons, as an honorable jury, from the 5th international City and citizen Cartoon festival.
A few days later we stopped in Teheran to visit Massoud Shojai Tabatabai, director of Iran Cartoon House. It was a very nice afternoon with splendid Iranian pastries. The monthly exhibition was great and the staff gave us a lot of information about the working of the museum. We could follow also the volleyball match between Iran and the USA.
We also had some telephone calls from Mohsen Asadi, winner of the 19th Euro-kartoenale Kruishoutem ‘The Bicycle’. He couldn’t make it to Teheran but wanted us to meet some other cartoonists. So we had an other meeting at the top roof terrace of our hotel in Esfahan with cartoonist Ayat Naderi, from the Esfahan Cartoon House, who does organize national cartoon competitions.
Ayat showed us his work and told proudly that two of his (female again) students were awarded in Nasreddin Hodja Cartoon Competition in Turkey. It was a nice evening.
So the rest of the holidays we act as normal tourists, taking about 2000 photo’s of this beautiful, modern country with the warmest persons in the whole world.
A country with a great cultural heritage, where you feel art is present in every day life and where cartooning has not only a great past, but also a very promising future.
PS we had to buy an extra suitcase to put all cartoon books that we did receive for our library in the ECC in it. Thanks guys for that!