An added bonus of having a wife that attends art school, are art swaps.

October 31st, 2013, 1pm

It was 16°C with broken clouds. The breeze was brisk.

We think this artist is going to be famous. I guess it doesn’t matter what we think. Whether someone becomes well known and successful is not up to us, but I do like Negin Dastgheib’s paintings, the narratives, the subtle hints/nods to something intangible and dark, framed within a seemingly normal setting. I don’t know why, but more than anything Dashgheib’s art fuels a passion and longing to one day travel to Iran.

It was this same longing that set me on a course for two of the three places I had always wanted to visit: Sarajevo, Beirut and Kabul. I made it to the first two on the same round-the-world trip, but I guess Kabul, will always be out of the question. Maybe Iran represents some kind of subconscious substitute.

When I was in Sarajevo and Beirut I remember being hit with this strange feeling I’d been there before. I guess this isn’t unusual, if you ingest enough news you can feel as if you know a place and/or its people, amalgamate their narrative into your own and convince yourself you’re somehow part of that world. But you aren’t. But you must try - search for common ground and move forward from there, even if you’ll never be part of whatever world you want to inhabit. News is one thing, reality is another.

The reality was when I got to these places, some years later, it was as if the conflict had never occurred. The heart of each city was thriving and modern. The wear and tear of war in Beirut was more evident: buildings pockmarked with bullet-holes, uniformed men guarding piles of rubble. In Sarajevo the occasional UN Jeep and Humvee would drive by. But as we know with many locations where conflict is common and familiar, appearances can be deceiving. A few months after I left Beirut, Rafic Hariri was assassinated.

While I travelled through the Middle East I was asked on numerous occasions what I was doing there. My standard answer was because I didn’t believe what the media told me about this part of the world. I would bookend this statement with another, which was along the lines of telling everyone, upon my arrival home, how things really were, like I was some kind of messenger of peace and goodwill. I believed this would somehow make a difference. I’m not so sure it does.

What has this got to do with a series of paintings by a New Zealand woman of Iranian heritage? I know one day I will make it to Iran. It won’t be because I want to change the world, but because I want to see what it’s like for myself.

A curious mind can lead you to strange places and even deeper understandings, if not about other people, places or things, then definitely about yourself.

Owen, David Wade, Cassie, Paul and 1 more said thanks.

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Aidan Rasmussen

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