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08.08.2019 | Words by De School

This Sunday in our garden, three friends from Amsterdam, Mehran, Kourosh and Hani, are organising an evening focused on Iranian culture. An initiative that is rooted in their own growing interest in their own background, shared experiences with the few Iranians in their own circle and a growing curiosity to Iran and its culture from the people around them. The result was Doogh Life, named after the savory yoghurt-based drink Doogh, that’s very popular in Iran.
“There weren’t really any Iranian events that represented how we experience our culture, or that showcased the artists in our own field of interest,” Hani says, “There are so many Iranians doing cool things and creating amazing work. Not everything they’re doing is about or related to Iran, as they’re all just musicians and artists expressing themselves. But in a way, it always influences you, as you always take this background with you. It doesn’t need to be very obvious, but it’s always there. Which is something we all experience.”

Mehran comments: “Our representation of Iranian culture is mostly from our own perception, which is second generation Iranians in the Netherlands. So, our personal Iranian heritage has been heavily influenced by Western or European culture. Kourosh was born here, and Hani and I were born in Iran, but grew up here.” 

Kourosh: “In a way it challenges prejudices or assumptions people have about Iranians. We don’t all do calligraphy. In the end, we are all the same everywhere; individuals making art in our own way.”
All three of them noticed a growing interest from people around them who were interested in traveling to Iran. “But still, everybody already has so many assumptions already when travelling there, about the culture, religion, the people. Now we can show everyone how we see it, and represent our culture ourselves,” Mehran says. Hani: “And bringing people together is most important to us as well, it creates a special bond if you can share similar experiences with people.” 

Through Doogh Life Mehran, Kourosh and Hani cover different aspects and fragments of their culture; music, art, and food. Young Iranians will be presenting both traditional and “newer” sounds, as hip hop and ambient, including Iranian composer Farid Sheek, who will be performing with his daf (a traditional frame drum), and an ambient set by Rouzbeh Teymouri. Kourosh: “Iran has such a rich musical history, but there’s also a blossoming underground scene of electronic and rap music.” 
“Besides music, art is a big part of how the youth in Iran spends their free time; there are no clubs like we have here to go out, so going out with your friends often means visiting a museum,” Mehran says. They collaborated with Amsterdam-based No Man’s Art Gallery on a small exhibition of three Iranian artists. Elnaz Salehi, Mamali Shafahi and Arash Fakhim, will be showing their work, from sculptures to film, in Het Muzieklokaal. 

“And poetry is an important part of Iranian culture as well,” Kourosh adds: “We’ve invited poet Sholeh Rezazadeh, which I’m excited about. I saw her perform at a poetry event a while ago, and was so impressed, I asked for her name right away, and am really looking forward to see her perform.” Hani adds: “A while ago I was talking to someone from No Man’s Art Gallery, and asked him why he think all of us are so involved in art. His response was that it’s in the richness of the Persian language. It has so many words and it’s so complicated and descriptive; it’s like poetry.” 

Dough Life takes place Sunday August 11th in our garden from 15:00 until 19:00. Besides, art and music, the Iranian kitchen will also be represented through three different traditional dishes.

Tickets are available here.
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