The Islamic Revolution has had a great impact on Iranian culture. Pre-Islamic architecture and arts were initially frowned upon and for years neglected. Moreover, Islamic propagandists argue that decades of Western influence during the Pahlavi period had ‘poisoned’ Iranian culture with foreign (irreligious) elements. This degenerative influence is usually called ‘Westoxication’ and is mostly understood as the morally corruptive or ‘poisonous’ influence of the West in Iran. To fight Westoxication, Iranians – especially Iranian artists – had to search for authenticity and nativism, and, above all, regain their religious identity. They should disregard Western influences and focus on their own (Islamic) traditions. In doing so they would be able to create a true work of art, art in which religion not only inspired the artist but was the only topic. The propaganda art visualizing these ideas can be found on walls all over Iranian cities.
At the same time Iranian culture is far more complex and accessible than the propaganda suggests. Despite strict rules and restrictions, theatre, music, cinema, dance, performance, video, and the graphic arts have continued to develop in their own independent ways.
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