Written Spaces: Interpreting Contemporary Iranian Typography Through the Works of Three Iranian Artists
By: Roshanak Keyghobadi
Published: 05/16/2012
Uploaded: 11/09/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Contemporary Iranian Art, Homa Delvaray, language based art, Mohammed

Description/Abstract: The dissertation investigates how an instrumental practice such as typography in
Iran also functions as an aesthetic practice. Research focuses on typographic works of three contemporary Iranian artists and provides insights into the ways their artworks have been read and interpreted by informed viewers as well as by the artists themselves. The study is specifically interested in how typographic artworks embody spaces for inquiry,
response, reflection, meaning making and learning in relation to Iranian art and society.
This is a qualitative research endeavor incorporating a case study including three components: artworks, artists who created these artworks, and viewers of these artworks.
Data were collected between 2007 and 2012 from three artists (Mohammad Ehsaei, Reza
Abedini and Homa Delvaray) and nine informed viewers (Hengameh Fouladvand, Iman
Raad, Hamed Yousefi, Nada Shabout, Sam Bardaouil, Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès,
Sheila Blair, Steven Heller, and Ellen Lupton).

All artworks were language-based and were produced in Iran (a painting by Mohammad Ehsaei, a poster design by Reza
Abedini, and an illustration by Homa Delvaray). Each viewer discussed and commented on the digital version of one of the artworks that were assigned to her/him. Method of data collection was through interviews, electronic mail correspondences, and a questionnaire.
Data analysis produced nine dominant themes: modernism, architecture,
language, identity, the body as a sign, personal typography, dichotomy, narrative, and
ornament, that was organized and discussed in terms of interpretive lenses for in-depth
investigations of a larger body of typographic works by the three artists of the study and interpreting and framing their artistic practices. The discussion suggests that each time an artwork is viewed, it not only opens new intellectual and interpretative spaces that can be universal or unique based on a viewer’s way of seeing but the artwork is also simultaneously in dialogue with past and other contemporary works. It is argued that typographic works such as those discussed in this study offer multiple new interpretive realities and meanings, facilitate cross-cultural aesthetic experiences and learning, and promote an understanding of the significance of language-based art.