1390-2-2، 01:28 عصر
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Ms. Talinn Grigor speech:
Tribute to Professor Houshang Seyhoun
23 August 2010, LACMA, Los Angeles
Assistant Professor of Modern & Contemporary Architecture
Brandeis University, greater Boston, MA, USA
It is my honor to be present here and to be give a few minutes to reflect upon Professor Seyhoun’s life and work. Unlike most of you, I never had the privilege of being his student. My knowledge of him is archival, therefore, I will read a few paragraph from my work. The author of Avicenna Mausoleum is, surely, the paramount personification of the Pahlavi architect. Born in 1920 into a Baha’i family of Tehran, Houshang Seyhoun was one of the major players in the debates of style, technique, and cultural identity during the mid- to late Pahlavi era. While it was true that “that which Seyhoun and a few of his colleagues taught and built in Iran has remained a model to be followed,” things were far more complicated in the 1950s Iran. To begin with, in the years following WWII, local and colonial diplomats fastened great hopes on young professionals in such apolitical disciplines as architecture, engineering, and medicine. “There is no doubt,” maintained the French ambassador in 1945, “the education of young Iranians in France is the most powerful means to develop our cultural influence in this country.” The Iranian authorities, in their turn, while limiting the number and age of students who could benefit from a European education, admitted that they “carry a heavy responsibly and their posts are reserved in the Iranian administration.” They, too, had placed great hopes on these young men. Seyhoun was one of the privileged. Out of high school, Seyhoun became one of the first students of Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts where he studied under the French architect Maxime Siroux, the architect of Hafezieh along other important buildings. During the Allied occupation of Iran, Seyhoun landed his first job consisting of five frescoes for Tehran’s Palace cabaret, designed especially for foreign troops. Soon, when his proposal was selected by the Anjoman-e Asar-e Melli for Avicenna’s tomb project, he was only twenty-three years old and had no idea that all strings of his life converged here. This was his career-making commission; “After that,” he told me some ten years ago, “others project came to me quite easily.” The prize of the competition consisted of the actual construction of the structure with the supervision of the winner. However, since Seyhoun was invited to the école des Beaux-Arts by Godard’s nomination, he asked him “to release me from going to Paris because I want to construct this monument here.” Godard replied, “I don’t have the budget for that building, you can go abroad … I will let you know when the budget is ready.” Seyhoun left and entered Otello Zavaroni’s studio in May 1946. His début in Paris was facilitated not only by two prize-winning competitions and excellent relationship with Godard, but also by the Cultural Relations Department of the Foreign Ministry. Two years later, with the exception of his diploma project, he had passed all his exams with flying colors. By May 1949, Seyhoun was endowed with a Docteur D’Art by the école des Beaux-Arts, and the Iranian Government endorsed his scheme for Avicenna’s mausoleum. “In the mid-construction of Bu Ali,” Seyhoun recently confessed, “I had major problems with Hekmat. He kept telling me what to do…. But, I would not obey!” Similarly when Khorasan’s army general unexpectedly arrived at Mashhad to inspect Nader Shah’s mausoleum in mid-construction, “I said, ‘what inspection? The building is not scheduled for an inspection’.” A mere decade ago, Seyhoun would not have uttered these words. In Reza Shah’s Iran everyone and everything was subject to inspection. Seyhoun represented a new kind of Pahlavi professional. Young professionals, like him, came back to Iran from Europe with great hopes and even greater expectations of immediate success. But, these students returned home to face numerous obstacles: the envy of others, especially the generation before them; their own inability to read certain social codes; a lack of professional network and contacts; and the technical disparity between what they had learned at the école des Beaux-Arts and the reality of implementing these skills at home. This was particularly hard on architects and engineers who had to supervise a large number of local workers and deal with existing sites, materials, techniques, and often invisible red tape. In spite of these obstacles, Seyhoun went on to bigger projects and better positions in Iran’s artistic and professional communities. His impact went beyond architecture though. It was he who first used calligraphy to decorate as a form of an artistic search for a local modern on Omar Khayyam’s modern mausoleum in Neshapur. Begun in 1959, it was inaugurated by Mohammad Reza Shah in April 1963, exactly a year before the Fourth Tehran Biennale during which Persian calligraphic paintings proliferated. Seyhoun’s teachings remained dominant in Iran’s architectural establishments, such as his alma mater, Tehran University, where he first became a professor and then the dean in 1962. Before resigning in protest against changes in the government of the university in 1969, he introduced distinguished architects, like Alvar Aalto and Richard Neutra, to the architectural community of Tehran. Subsequently, as a member of the Municipal Council of Tehran, the president of Society of Iranian Architect, and a UNESCO affiliate, he was vital to the ties between pivotal state institutions and the architectural education and profession in Pahlavi Iran. For me, it has been an honor to act as his historians. Prepared by: SIAP staff writersعکس های این مراسم در پست بعدی......