Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Abbas Kiarostami: Doors Without Keys

Story & photos by Allan Tong

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is opening a sublime photo exhibition of 50 life-sized doors on Nov. 21 at Toronto's Aga Khan Museum.

Yes, doors. Ancient doors. Wooden doors. Steel doors. Pelling doors. Padlocked doors. All locked, in fact. None with people opening or closing them. None identifying their locations. Doors Without Keys is as nameless and enigmatic as the renown photographer-filmmaker-poet intended.

I would add haunting and beautiful. Evocatively lighting their fading greens and reds, the doors demand a closer look. Notably, the detail on these images is amazing. You can see the grain of the wood behind the peeling paint. Others lie in mysterious shadow. For others, their chains and locks glisten in the sunlight.

"The common point was always their age," Kiarostami explained to ChinoKino in how he chose his doors. "They had to be old, look abandoned and give you a feeling that they hadn't been open for ages. Forgotten doors." All he would disclose of the doors was that they were from southern Italy and France, and remote regions of Iran.

The exhibition wasn't easy to mount. First, Kiarostami is based in Tehran, and it took some cooperation between the Canadian and Iranian governments (relations remain frosty) to allow him to enter Canada. Kiarostami printed his photos for two weeks this past summer at Toronto Image Works (founded by another renown photographer, Edward Burtynsky). Kiarostami couldn't ship his prints out of Iran.

The idea for the exhibition was hatched back in spring 2013 in Dubai when its co-curator, Amirali Alibhai, met film programmer Peter Scarlet whose house guest was Kiarostami. A plan was struck before the Aga Khan Museum even opened and, in fact, Doors Without Keys, is the museum's first solo exhibition.

Currently, Kiarostami is in Toronto to also present his films, including 1987's Where is the Friend's Home on Friday, November 20 and a 10 on Ten which he discussed earlier this week. Doors Without Keys runs until March 27, 2016 at the resplendent Aga Khan Museum, nestled in Don Mills, Toronto.

1 comment:

  1. Marvellous! It's uncanny how after assigning projects in photography classes in the 90s this 'subject matter' has maintained its credibility.