Editor’s Note: Bri Olson is an American artist who wants to go to Iran. See the video above and her words below for more on her reasons for this project, which is called “Send Love to Iran.” She’ll be writing about her journey here on Pars Arts. To support her, see the project’s website and add her on MySpace. Check back for updates on Bri’s progress, and please send this post to your friends.
The seed that sprouted as the project affectionately dubbed “Send Love to Iran” was planted on September 11, 2006 at “Ground Zero,” the site of the World Trade Center attacks. Five years prior marked the genesis of a new era in the United States of America, a country I’ve always called home.
With such an important anniversary looming, and the continuing chaotic signals sent to and from this country, I felt compelled to communicate something I knew to be true. I took a sign that read “Unconditional Love is Global Security” and stood amidst the protesters, mourners, and commuters. I said nothing, but left myself open to any and all communication. One of the first experiences I had involved an affluent white couple that decided to confront my cardboard and me. “I wish you were in Tehran, with your sign.” the woman said. She continued to insist that I take the sign to Tehran and concluded with “see what love you felt over there”. While others had allowed my sign to be a celebration of unity, this woman had turned it into protest. Between me, my sign, this woman and her indignation we managed to underscore some fundamental discordance amongst the population as a whole.
The most notable thing about this woman was her repeated mention of Iran. This was apparently the first country that came to her mind with mention of global security. Now, I made an educated guess and assumed that the root of her indignation had something to do with the government. But what were the other factors that implanted such anger inside this woman? How much did this woman know about Iran? Had she traveled there? If not, where is she getting her information? More importantly, is there some girl in Tehran at this very moment having her ideals berated because someone feels the same towards the United States or, say, Israel? Suddenly I wanted very badly to let this woman know what love I felt ‘over there’ in Tehran.
So blossoms this project. I’m drawn to creators and creations and I’ve had the fortune of being surrounded by artists the majority of my adult life. To me, artists carry the visions that create the future, and my passion is facilitating the creation of that future. So that is whom this project engages, people who can resonate with the idea of taking the beauty from the minds eye, and projecting it into the world.
Thanks to the Internet, I’ve been in touch with a handful of Iranians, Americans, and bi-cultural hyphenates. Many of them are artists wanting to bring their work to a new forum. This project creates a new forum, collectively exhibiting their labors of love, and highlighting their visions. This project includes traveling to Iran to engage with these artists and bringing the experience to life via the internet. I intend to do just that, in celebration of the invisible bond between us.
While this project begins with Iran, in the end, I’d like to see members of the two nations set an example for the rest of the world. It’s far too easy, lazy even, to dismiss the idea that “Unconditional Love is Global Security.” It would be fair to say that it will require an open mind and an open heart, hard work, patience, and the ability to look towards something other than blame.
The three main ingredients in realizing this project are:
1. Like-minded earthlings, including people living in Iran
2. Money, a minimum of $5000, to sponsor flights, shipping, media, and maintaining a web presence
3. An entry visa, the proverbial golden ticket.
What’s been attained thus far:
1. Like-minded earthlings. Check! Bunches! And let’s keep ‘em coming.
2. Money. Working on it. I’m constantly looking for new fundraising ideas that incorporate artists. We’ve had a benefit concert with Iranian rock band Hypernova and Boston’s superstar Amanda Palmer. We’ve just sold out of our first batch of “Unconditional Love is Global Security” t-shirts. And shortly there will be rock n’ roll photos available from a (stellar) live photographer based out of New Jersey.
3, The magical Visa. I look forward to chronicling this adventure for Pars Arts. The first step is obtaining an official ‘Letter of Invitation’ from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is often done by a travel agency and Americans are usually required to adhere to a strict travel itinerary, but given this project’s unique situation, I’m working to avoid or adapt these requirements.