Time & Again, a podcast series by LACMA

About the Podcast

Iran has a history that is steeped in poetry, music and art, an identity that has spread far beyond its borders. Time & Again considers Iran’s potent history through the epic poem, The Shahnama. No matter what gender, generation, class, religion or political inclination, every single Persian knows about the Shahnama. It is a text that tells tales of warriors and kings, love and betrayals and that has lasted for thousands of years, the resonance of which remains. This podcast explores this text through the lens of the artists and scholars that feel inspired by it and appreciate how a work of art, a poem, is one of the bedrocks of Persian society.

Time & Again is inspired by the exhibition In the Fields of Empty Days: The Intersection of Past and Present in Iranian Art, curated by Linda Komaroff, on view at LACMA from May 6 to September 9, 2018. In the Fields of Empty Days is a groundbreaking exhibition of both historical and contemporary Iranian works that highlight ways in which artists have used and continue to use the past as a metaphor for the present day. This notion is revealed in art and literature in which ancient kings and heroes are used in later contexts as examples of virtue or as objects of derision, while long-gone Shi'a saints are evoked as champions of the poor and the oppressed. Of special concern to the American audience, the exhibition shows how Iranian artists negotiate the sometimes politically charged issues of governance and faith creating objects both novel and relevant.

To begin, though Iran is often in the news, for most Americans it is little understood, so we have asked a group of experts on Iranian culture - academics, curators, filmmakers and artists to open a door for us into Iran. Not surprisingly they each ended up focusing on poetry.

Hosted by actor/comedian Maz Jobrani and LACMA curator Linda Komaroff. 

EP1: Poetry on the Tip of the Tongue

Though Iran is often in the news, for most Americans it is little understood. We have asked a group of experts on Iranian culture - academics, curators, filmmakers and artists - to open a door for us into Iran. Not surprisingly they each ended up focusing on poetry. 

Learn more about this episode. 

EP2: An Epic Poem

No matter what gender, generation, class, religion or political inclination, every single Persian knows about the Shahnama. In this episode, we explore this work through the artists and scholars that feel inspired by it and appreciate how a work of art has lasted for thousands of years.

Learn more about this episode.  

EP3: We Can Be Heroes

In the poetry of the Shahnama readers are introduced to a flawed but endearing hero named Rostam. In this episode we discuss how heroes like Rostam represent a source of pride as well as a jumping off point for critique.

EP4: The Past is Present, The Present is Past

It seems fitting to close this series with the artworks that inspired this podcast. In this episode we discuss how Iranian artists use the past as a metaphor for the present day.  Here Maz and Linda discuss how the Shahnama appears throughout the exhibition In the Fields of Empty Days: The Intersection of Past and Present in Iranian Art and how Iranian artists draw upon this ancient text as a way to make sense of the present.  

Learn more about this episode.