They failed to oust US military forces from Guantanamo Bay by assaulting them with Beethoven’s Third Symphony (The Art Newspaper, January 2006, p32) but, undaunted, the Danish artists’ group Parallel Action is turning its sights on Iran, with the aim of instigating another cultural revolution.
Headed by Thomas Altheimer, a former actor, and a colleague who goes by the name of Nielsen, the duo has received funding from the Danish Arts Council to travel to Iran this October. There they plan to “engage in conversations and debates” with other artists, students, clerics and activists.
The group says it plans to spark a “Second Iranian Revolution” using the secret contents of a metal box, previously used in a similar project in Iraq during the lead-up to the elections in January 2004. There, the box was meant to hold “Democracy”, but its new contents will only be revealed when the box is opened in the streets of Tehran.
The project is the result of a series of discussions in March in Washington, DC, at think tanks and diplomatic organisations such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Brookings Institute, and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, followed by meetings with government officials from the National Security Council and the State Department. Altheimer and Nielsen vowed to suspend future attacks on Guantanamo and “take care of Iran”, if the US would pledge to shut down its detention facilities in Cuba.
“This bargain seems to show some results now,” says Altheimer, referring to comments made to the press last month by the US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack that “at some point in the future, we’d like nothing better than to close down Guantanamo”.
If his particular brand of art diplomacy does not work, Altheimer is prepared to return to combat. He is showing footage of his sonic assault on Guantanamo in “Arsenal”: an exhibition on “sound as weapon”, which opens this month at Alma Enterprises in London. He will also be giving a talk on the mission and hopes to enlist volunteers and sponsors for a second skirmish around Christmas, should it prove necessary.
o “Arsenal” is showing at Alma Enterprises, 23 June to 30 July, 1 Vyner Street, London Tel: +44 (0)79 1365 3910
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Danish duo plans Iranian revolution'