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Neshan 46/47

Archive - IV

Scrap Paper Poetry

Aria Kasaei

1. Scrap Paper1 Poetry
Scrap Paper poetry is a collection of poetry notebooks which was published in two sizes (220*220mm and 115*165mm) on the print waste of Modern Art Gallery’s catalogs. Ajagh & Wajagh and Ablagh are two poetry notebooks in this collection by Jazeh Tabatabai published in the 1970s.

2. Modern Art The Modern
Art Gallery opened in 1957 with a group exhibition of paintings and its last exhibition held in 1978 was auctioning of paintings and sculptures by Jazeh Tabatabai. The gallery has reopened in mid-eighties and exhibitions have been held there occasionally. It is, therefore, the longest-running gallery in Iran before the revolution. The gallery was first moved to Bahar Street and then to Tabatabai Moghadam alley in Takht-e Jamshid Avenue (now Taleghani). Tabatabai’s house in this alley is a different-looking house with the cement façade, which after twelve years of the artist’s death, his name is still printed in metallic English letters on metal door handles. The streets around the house and the Jazeh Gallery is surrounded by shops selling metal parts, pipes, gooseneck, cutting blades and metal gears which were put to use in his sculptures in various forms. The Modern Art Gallery is considered one of the busiest and most vibrant galleries of pre-revolutionary Tehran because of Jazeh’s close friendship with painters and sculptors, poets and writers, and filmmakers.

Four years after the gallery’s opening, its publishing department was established and started its activities. In addition to publishing catalogs for some exhibitions, books such as Khosrow Sinai’s Poetry Collection in 1963 or Nasser Ovissi’s works in 220*220mm size were published in 1971.

4. Feelings of a Living Nation
Jazeh wrote in a catalog introduction to one of the exhibitions: “... the Modern Art Gallery does not intend to limit itself to history, to forget today’s life and today’s people, and to admire past and its glories alone. That is why Modern Art Gallery’s exhibitions are not dedicated to moldy and dusty objects, but rather to the feeling of the living nation and what exists today, and …”

5. Ablagh Ablaq Ablagh Ablaq Ablagh
'Ablagh' in Persian dictionaries means having two colors and sometimes 'Abalgh Ayyam' means as white as day and as black as night. In 1971, Jazeh Tabatabai published his first poetry notebook called Ablagh, in 185* 165mm for 10 Tomans, in a letterpress style and Zar font. Ablagh is a Dadaist take on futility. It is considered as a subset of concrete and visual poetry, and we know that nonsense and repetition are among the most important features of visual poetry as well as Saqqakhaneh in the sixties. Abalgh begins with the Jazeh manifesto, which is called an apron. In Abalagh, a skinny man clothed in white linen is pictured who slowly counting the bricks of a pickup truck from one to twenty-five hundred as he is unloading it. Then, the book spins upside-down, and we count again from one to twenty-five hundred to realize the futility of the number 2500. Typesetting direction changes frequently in the pages, and we have to rotate with them. The repetition and rotation that we see in the circular form on the cover of this book are also abundant in works of Hossein Zenderoudi, Mohammad Ehsaee, and Faramarz Pilaram. On the cover of the book, there is a big exclamation mark.

6. Reza Baraheni’s Opinion on an Abalgh Poet
“The solution for this problem is that of Freud and Jung, the world’s leading psychologists, have determined that when the patient inflicted with self-absorption complex is in his deep thoughts in a solitary confinement with the same hat, pants, and boots, the psychologist must approach him with an Ablagh brick in his hand from behind without the patient noticing how his complex is going to be resolved and lift the brick as high as he can and then smash the brick right on top of the patient’s head in a blink of an eye and to be over and done with him.”2

7. Ajagh & Wajagh, Scrap Paper Poetry
Ajagh & Wajagh is a collage which is a combination of visual, phonetic and linguistic poetry. In this notebook, the poet tries to illustrate using letters like “Poetry in the morning of a cloudy and rainy Day” or resizes lead letter sizes to raise or lower the voices in some pages in to transfer the excitement and humor and anger to the reader/viewer as he pleases. Jazeh is fascinated by folklore culture and uses linguistic features such street language alongside with Saqqakhaneh illustrations. The poet in this poetry notebook appears as a letterist and uses letters for the sake of the image, not the expression of a subject, and makes a satirical combination of very serious jokes.3

8. The Poet’s Opinion on Baraheni
“In the city of Ajagh & Wajagh, there was a man who wished to be a poet and because he could never say a poem which was a poem, he bit others’ buttocks out of the rage and sorrow. God bless Voltaire’s soul who believed critics to be uncontended gadflies who feed on donkeys’ buttocks”.4

9. The End
What I did was understood by the intellectuals and opposed by idiots. Long live me!

1. Dariush Kiaras’ report on the history of Tehran galleries was used to write this text.
2. From “A useless book called Ablagh” by Reza Baraheni, Ettela’at, Tuesday, July 25, 1972
3. Ajagh & Wajagh was published in 1974. On the cover of the book, there is a big exclamation mark.
4. Jazeh Tabatabai, Ajagh & Wajagh, 1974, Modern Art Gallery Publications, from Scrap Paper Poetry collection.

Aria Kasaei

Graphic designer and founder with Peyman Pourhosein of StudioKargah in Tehran, where he lives and works. Kasaei has exhibited his work in Iran and internationally. He is an active contributor to the Dabireh Collective and Tandis Bi-weekly magazine. Kasaei has curated graphic design exhibitions such as Azad Art Gallery’s Graphic Design Project in Tehran in 2009 and Posters from Iran in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2011.


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