Fires in Forests, Bavand Behpoor on Melodie Zad

Fires in Forests

A note on Melodie Hosseinzadeh’s exhibition
at Azad Art Gallery, Tehran
by Bavand Behpoor

Tavakkoli Matches Co. annually produces 10 billion matchboxes with 300 workers. Each ordinary Tavakkoli matchbox contains 40 matchsticks. Tavakkoli Matches Co. annually produces 400 billion safety matches. Considering the fact that the company was established in Iran in 1917 at the end of the First World War and has been active for more than 90 years, it has produces thousands of billion safety matchsticks till now.

Tavakkoli Matches Co. can provide each living human being with 60 safety matchsticks per year.

On Wed. 29th July 2009 at 10:37 am Rasekhoon website affiliated with ‘Religious Donations Charity Organization’ reported under the title of ‘We have the Biggest Match Producing Company in the World’ quoting ‘Green Family Magazine’: ‘Today lighters have replaced matches. Large matchstick producing companies each produce certain kinds of matches. One produces fantasy matchsticks, the other fireplace matches, etc. But Tavakkoli Matches Co. is the only factory in the world that produces all these products. Mr. Tavakkoli says, “Nowadays each matchbox is sold for two dollars while Tavakkoli matches are sold for only 50 cents” and he adds with much pride that, “we are the largest most efficient and influential producer in the world”.’

On Tavakkoli matchboxes is either a picture of an animal or an advertisement. The animals portrayed on boxes are different in kind and have iconic qualities. Tavakkoli matches are a standard of our culture.

On the other side of matchboxes, Tavakkoli Matches Co. congratulates the victory of the Islamic revolution on 11th Feb. to the consumers. Since the matches are used throughout the year, it congratulates the victory all year long and the consumers think of it when they light the matchsticks.

Matches produced after 1844 are called safety matches, for early matches contained white phosphorus dangerous both to producers and consumers and would afflict them with phossy jaw or other bone disorders. At that time, the amount of white phosphorus in one box was enough for killing a human being.

Tavakkoli matches have been used throughout Iranian history for firing Reza Shah’s cannons, lighting Molotov cocktails, burning cinema screens, lighting cigarettes of soldiers, drug addicts and those sentenced to death, for setting oneself on fire, for lighting fire in forests, for setting cats on fire, for allowing kids entertain themselves during long afternoons, for lighting alcoholic lamps or setting garbage cans on fire. As such, it is no doubt the symbol of our national identity. Matchsticks are made of pinewood and their so-called sulfur is made of a mixture of 12 chemical elements attached to the stick with animal silicone.

The last point you need to know in order to enjoy the exhibition is some acquaintance with Vogue magazine and the art of illumination.