Arby Ovanessian (1942– ), a pioneer of new directions in Iranian theatre and cinema, is one of the most vigorous and dominant artists of the modern era. Being one of the leading voices, he played a significant role in the transformation of the Iranian cultural landscape. Ovanessian is polyvalent. First and foremost, he is a director, but his keen, discerning insight and relentless, multi-faceted abilities allow him to get engaged in any capacity imaginable in order for the work of art to happen. His wide-searching vision and boundless horizons make his work always alive and ahead of the present time. According to one theatre critic, Ovanessian is the perpetual torchbearer of the Iranian theater. In the preface of a book, The Theatre and Cinema of Arby Ovanessian, Peter Brook mentions that “Arby is exceptional. […] He is both a man of the East and of the West open equally to the visible and invisible worlds.” With his poignant thoughts and creative ways of exploration that extend the limits of one’s imagination, Ovanessian’s work offers a ground of research potentialities for generations of Iranian artists, scholars and students.
The panel focuses on deeper understanding of Ovanessian’s creative work. Through different voices – of a writer, a philosopher, a filmmaker and an architect – scholars provide a network of broad-ranging ideas that explore the significance of Ovanessian’s theatre and cinema. The first paper titled “In Touch with the Unknown: A Testimony on the Theatrical and Cinematic Approach of Arby Ovanessian” focuses on the question of encountering the unknown in relation to Ovanessian’s work. In the second paper, “Transcendental Style in the Cinema of Arby Ovanessian: An Analysis of ‘The Source’ (Cheshmeh, 1971),” the author leads a discussion on the importance of the question of transcendence in Ovanessian’s cinema. “Arby Ovanessian: A Significant Cinematic Presence Followed by a Self-intended Speechlessness” is a title of the third presentation which discusses the emergence, influence and deliberate absence of Ovanessian in Iranian cinema. The last paper “Evoking Architecture: Theatre of Arby Ovanessian and Its Architectural Expression” explores the close relationship between Ovanessian’s theatrical creation and architecture. Together, the proposed papers aim to contribute to the discourse on Ovanessian’s theatre and cinema and to further the understanding of the gravity of his work of art.