Archaeology of the Final Decade explores the reverberations of 20th century modernist universalisms, taking the Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis (1967-1977) as a case study and point of departure. A Utopian Stage explores the genealogies and implications of the Festival’s modernist ambitions, using it as a lens through which to reconsider the legacies of modernism’s radical progressive arc. 

The project reconstructs a complex space of international modernity by highlighting the ‘third worldist’ sensibilities of the immediate post-colonial period and tracing a cultural atlas through which knowledge was exchanged across alternative (often non-European) plateaus. This process of global ‘reorientation’ takes us through a reconstruction of the gaze – subverting the single ‘reading’ of West to East into a more cyclical model, engaging in cultural negotiations from East to East, East to West, South to East, South to South – constructing a panoramic exchange of global artistic discourse. Situating the festival against the background of contemporaneous political events and movements like the Non-Aligned Movement and Pan-Africanism, we examine how Shiraz-Persepolis acted as a contested site of competing solidarities and proliferating visions of an interconnected world; and how, importantly, it facilitated the encounter between international and local avant-garde.

The interactive and ongoing Cutural Atlas conjures a fragmented history of the twentieth century through the ambitions and contradictions of countless utopian universalist episodes and ideals: transcends internationalisms; radical liberations; emancipating solidarities.

AOTFD’s engagement with ideas and themes.