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The World Champion Curated By Arash Tanhai

The National Hero

Arash Tanhai

1-Neither did Rustam live for six hundred years, nor Isfandiar was immortal, but the yearning for longevity and immortality has always been with human race and will be forever. World Champion is the man of dreams, a tree with branches high in the sky, but its roots deeply in earth and therefore highly believable. Our yearnings can make a World champion live for six hundred years and immortalize another.

2-"World Champion" was the highest rank in pre-Islamic Iranian Army and therefore there have been many World Champions in History, but there are only two World Champions whose titles have been remembered permanently: Rustam son of Zal in Shahname mythology and Gholamreza Takhti in our contemporary History.

3-Gholamreza Takhti was born in Khani Abad, a poor southern neighborhood of Tehran. He was not only a powerful and swift wrestler but also in his personality so many desirable traits had come together that turned his figure to something  way beyond the mere first Iranian Gold medalist in the Olympic Games. Politeness and humility, compassion, benevolence, liberal spirit, respect for his precedents and national and religious values and specially his humanitarian efforts after The BoueenZahra earthquake turned him to a very popular face. His untimely death, he was only 37, was never accepted and believed by the people. All through Iran, many streets, Piazzas, schools, Stadiums and are named after him but more importantly he continues to exist as an empowering memory for the masses. His mere existence, without any connection to or interference by the state authorities is a proof for the vitality of Iranian Nation.

4- Many artists have addressed Takhti in their work but such attempts have never been on a collective and comprehensive level. I would have loved this project to get involved with other artistic forms of expression such as film, theatre and music in a way that every artist is able to narrate his own story and to get it registered and exhibited for the public and to merge it with the people's collective memory of the champion.

5-For selecting the Artists I thought of Takhti who had crossed class barriers and had turned himself to a national hero. The exhibition couldn't have been limited to works of an Artistic closed coterie, permanently present in most of the other exhibitions. Autodidact Artists, street Artists, illustrators, cartoonists and younger artists had something to say on this subject and therefor they should have been considered too. No doubt, I have had some mistakes but this is the compensation for experimenting and forming a personal identity. It was also possible to make the exhibition smaller, more elitist and perhaps more refined. But this wasn't my intention.

6-Every country celebrates the achievements of its heroes whose pride is the pride of a nation but piazza Takhti is left without a monument, museum or institution. There is no particular source to follow the publication and Art works related to him, to see recordings of his wrestling matches, to hear his voice or to get acquainted with his life and manners. A lot of this sort of material was gathered in the course of curating this exhibition and can be deposited safely in a sort of Takhti institute, turn it to a living museum and a place for gathering of the youth. But this curator is unable to guarantee this and therefore there is a need for efforts of the others who love this country and its people just like Takhti loved.

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