Persepolis 2530


The project takes as its starting point a party: thrown in 1971 by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. This event, for invited monarchs and heads of state, was held over 3 days and has been variously described as the most lavish party of the twentieth century.

The festivities took place in and amongst the ruins of Persepolis, capital of the first Persian Empire. Directly beside the ruins a vast tented city was constructed to accommodate invited guests. This encampment was designed and built by a Paris based interior design company and was touted as a modern day version of ‘The Field of the Cloth of Gold’. The display of such decadence, the fact that virtually every detail for this celebration was imported from France and, the manner in which the Shah presented himself – heir to Cyrus the Great - (effectlvely sidelining Islamic history) demonstrates some of the asymmetry surrounding this event. In Persepolis the Shah publicly displayed an unforeseen confusion: one of the world’s most important archaeological locations, (a world heritage site) presented as his own personal property. Historians have frequently pointed to Persepolis ‘71 as a key moment in the turn towards revolution. Persepolis ‘71 is therefore deeply embedded in our own more contemporary times.