About this Room
Bahman Mohassess thought himself to be a significant part of history, but history swallowed him whole, and no one has heard of him since. Some people thought that he returned to his hometown of Rasht in the south of the Caspian Sea. Others thought he had left Iran for good and was residing in Italy. He was indeed found in a hotel room in Rome. Fifi Howls From Happiness captures the last two months of this legendary artist’s life. During his last trip to Iran, he destroyed almost all of his works, taking with him only a few small sculptures. Destruction is almost instinctive in a man who saw his works as living creatures. In Rome, however, he continued to produce small collages, although he did not show them. We see this mysterious contemporary Diogenes preparing to paint his last work after a self-imposed exile of nearly thirty years.
Juxtaposed against the artist’s animated musings on his life, on politics, and on culture, is the narrative of his admirers Rokni and Ramin Haeri- zadeh— renowned artists in their own right —who travel to Rome to commission him to create what was to become his “Unknown Masterpiece”. The process of making the film and commissioning the painting run in parallel. The painting, however, never comes to fruition, due to Mohassess’s untimely death during the shooting of the film. Made all the more poignant by this unexpected event, the two storylines come to a close with what the artist triumphantly calls his “final performance”.
About Mitra Farahani:
Born 1975 in Iran, Mitra Farahani lives and works in Rome (Italy). After her education in painting and cinema both in Tehran and Paris (end of 1990s), she has pursued a double path of practice, between the still image and the moving image. Interested in issues of realism, martyrdom and lost or threatened artistic legacies, her documentaries (Juste une femme, 2001; Tabous. Zohre and Manouchehr, 2004; Behdjat Sadr: le temps suspendu, 2006), were highlighted and awarded in many film festivals (Berlin film festival, Paris Cinéma du Réel…), just as her critically acclaimed film on Bahman Mohassess, Fifi Howls From Happiness, 2013. The video work David with the Head of Goliath n°45 was produced for the exhibition Unedited History: Iran 1960-2014, Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris-Maxxi, Rome (2014-2015)