I went to different cities and collected coffeehouse paintings.I ended up with about a hundred pieces, and they’re very large. I said Salvador Dalí should come and learn how they make all the different subjects, so many beautiful scenes.They used very small pieces, sometimes half an inch by half an inch, triangular, square, hexagonal, all different shapes.
I said to myself, I must do something like that, something that people can hang in their homes.
And from then on I went to see all the mirror work in the different shrines. Mirrors would get broken along the Silk Road, and rather than waste them, craftsman architects used the shards, as they used tile and plaster, in their geometric design.
I was on the road for three months, from Tehran to Los Angeles and at last to New York.
When I finally arrived in Manhattan, I was very disappointed.
These extracts are taken from three interviews with Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist between 20; Iranian poet Etel Adman is present for one of them.
The interviews, merged into one, were published in Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Cosmic Geometry, ed. MSF: I was born in Qazvin, and our house was full of paintings and nightingales and birds.
(…) When I discovered the mirror mosaics, I realized that nothing is done spontaneously; it is all a calculation of geometry and design.
If you divide a circle at three points, it will be a triangle.
MSF: Someone needed to save these pieces of our culture before they were lost. All of that is gone now; everything was confiscated when the Revolution happened.