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"Iranian Pool: An Encounter with Contemporary Iranian Visual Culture"
2003-04-12 until 2003-04-21
Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art
It is important at this moment of war and global tension to look at a contemporary Islamic culture in more detail. Rooseum has therefore invited Spanish curator Chus Martinez to select highlights from her recent three month residency in Teheran and present them in the Museum's main hall.
In the last few years, there have been moves towards liberalisation in Iran and experimental artists have begun to be more visible, especially outside the country. Video works are especially significant, linked in some ways to the renaissance in Iranian film in the last decade. Much of the work deals with questions of Iranian cultural identity and the experience of the Islamic Revolution since 1979. As Martinez says:
“The idea (for Iranian Pool) arose as a result of an overwhelming of the energy, quantity and capacity for communication of many artistic proposals investigating the cultural identity of Iran today. This energy has an immediate relevance to other communities of artists and the public outside the country. In such places as Iran , experimentation is not only limited by the lack of resources but by a social and educational system more concerned with creating ‘exemplary models’of representation. We need to suggest and encourage approaches that are diversified and experimental, resulting from the friction of an ‘encounter’ between cultures.”
The project consists of a videos, drawings and an accompanying publication Sedà:voz made for an early version of the project shown in Spain. The artists Solmaz Shahbazi, who now lives and works in Stuttgart and Farhad Moshiri from Teheran both reflect on Iranian everyday life. Shahbazi’s work focuses on the human geography of the city of Teheran, the radical transformation of its public space after the Islamic Revolution and the social and cultural differences between the north, traditionally the neighbourhood occupied by the wealthy, more westernised classes, and the south, which is traditional and religious. Moshiri works partly as a painter in Iran but here shows video reedits from Iranian soap operas. His concerns revolve around the distance that exists in Iran between art, popular culture and the tremendous rise of a wealthy urban aesthetic that is remarkable for its particular reinvention of the consumer culture of the USA. Objects for the home, reproductions of typical landscapes on ‘Persian’ rugs, rococo furniture with the touch of the Shah… Moshiri’s working hypothesis is that it is this new amalgam, capable of combining the latest Nokia with a designer chador, represents what Iran is today. The painter Setareh Shahbazi has drawn images directly from Iranian television, showing an often sweet and idealised view of the country and its citizens and bearing an interesting similarity to similar images from western pulp television. Finally Tehran, the 25th Hour Tehran: Sa'at-e Bist-o Panj by Seifollah Samadian, which is a complete short documentary film of an eventful day, and at the same time part of a longer series about youth and soccer in Iran, which begun three years ago and ended in France during World Cup 1998.
The publication Sedà:voz is designed and organised by two editorial groups, www.teheranavenue.com and www.badjens.com. Bad Jens was a project set up to respond to the mistaken way Iranian women are seen outside of Iran, and to facilitate communication between the different initiatives inside and outside of Iran working to improve the lot of women in legal, social, employment terms as well as within the family. In contrast, Teheran Avenue supplies a rundown of events for visitors and citizens alike. Sedà:voz sets out to be an encounter between the flow of energy generated by the two editorial teams.
The White Station, 1999
35 mm film, sound (no dialog), 9 min.