Understanding arts and culture in today’s Iran is essential to better appreciate the individual and collective struggles and achievements of Iranian citizens in a restrictive environment. It is important to not only highlight elements of arts and culture that exist with state permission, but also to seek and identify various forms and genres of creativity that have emerged through underground means in the past few years.
What constitutes underground arts and culture in today’s Iran may differ from what we consider underground arts in more open societies. Much of “underground” art and culture in Iran is underground due to state laws and ideological mandates of the government. Yet, there are also various forms of underground arts, similar to those in open societies, whose creators and artists may choose to remain underground, even if tomorrow democracy prevails in Iran.
“Underground Affairs” is a project launched by the Siamak Pourzand Foundation (SPF) that aims to offer a platform for artists, journalists, and freedom of expression advocates who risk their peace of mind, freedom and safety as a price to remain truthful to their art in contemporary Iran. This project also aims to foster an inclusive dialogue about the role of underground arts and culture in the formation of civic dynamics and demands among the youth.
“Underground Affairs” has three activities: (1) “The People of the Underground”, a podcast series that is a series of conversations with various artists about the definition and realities of underground arts and culture in Iran, (2) “Hidden Basement”, a blog space, that aims to raise the general understanding of underground art as a means towards a stronger and more dynamic country’s civil society, and (3) “Legal Salon” which is a series of discussions to assess the judicial and security circumstances in which underground artists and freedom of expression advocates have to work in today’s Iran.