24th June - 11th July 2009 at Asia House, London
Made in Iran is a group show, providing a rare chance to see some of the most exciting work by young contemporary artists currently living and working in the modern Islamic Republic of Iran. Opening at Asia House on 23rd June, the exhibition celebrates the vibrancy of this new generation of artists, revealing how they reconcile their artistic practice with working in a post-revolutionary landscape dominated by a complex political and religious hegemony.
The artists featured in Made in Iran have developed their own visual practices in response to their experience of life in Tehran - a city where 70% of the population are under 35. Working in diverse media from photography to digital drawing, the exhibition highlights how they and their peers attempt to circumvent authority by evolving their own strategies of self expression. Although life is full of constraints, there is a desire to live in Tehran and, through their art, create a bearable alternative whilst examining issues of tradition and modernity, the public and the private experience of daily life, nostalgia and belonging.
The contradiction between ancient traditions and new way of life can be seen in Nazgol Ansarinia's digital drawings; in which she transforms traditional motifs and gives them an edge by working in scenes of contemporary life from Iran. Thus we are prompted to re-examine what at first glance appears to be a classic form of imagery but is in fact a visual representation local Iranian life - men, women and children queuing, chatting, playing and driving.
Shirin Aliabadi's works capture how Iranian women reshape their own images - transforming themselves as acts of cultural rebellion. Her photographic series features women with blond hair, coloured contact lenses, and surgical nose tape (Iran has the highest rhinoplasty rates in the world); and explores the cracks in monolithic societies that allow small subcultures to flourish.
Themes of self expression are also evident in Peyman Hooshmandzadeh's 'Windshields' series of photographs. Displaying various people behind windshields together with the decals and car stickers Iranians use to customise their cars in order to express their personalities.
Behrouz Rae's Gulliver series of postcards examines the contradiction between a desire for escape and that of belonging. Gathered during his travels or sent to him by his mother he frequently superimposes his own images into the frames.
After a life spent surrounded by different sets of slogans Arash Hanaei's works 'City Land Escapes' and 'Billboards' show Tehran as a palimpsest - with its physical structure being built and rebuilt over and over again, and on which political, economical and social texts are superimposed.
Vahid Sharifian's series of digital photographs recontextualise images of Sophia Loren culled from an out of print 1972 cookbook. Sharifian's work touches on themes as wide-ranging as public personality, individual identity, sex and food, and the recent political history of the artist's home country.
Simin Keramati explores female identity with her portraits of women wearing a mask like excesses of make up. Her portrait 'Make Up' features a woman with closed lips and blood red lipstick smeared across her cheek as if she wishes to speak of an objection to a society where sensuality is stripped from the female form, but cannot. The artist herself explains, "Make up" is a painting from the series "self portrait", all the works are about the objections I have to the society I live in as an artist. The work "make up" is a bitter portrait of a woman tired of wearing too much make up, her skin reminds us the plastic texture of a mask, the red lipstick around her lips reminds us of the color of blood... In the society I live in you are not permitted to wear make up but on the contrary women love to wear too much of it, but it is much more complicated when you want to talk about your needs, you could bring your life at risk (like the movement of women in Iran, they've put them in jail for demanding their basic needs), this portrait shows a woman with closed lips with the color of blood, she wants to say something."
About the curators A&E
Made in Iran is the first collaboration by curators and art consultants Arianne Levene and Églantine de Ganay who have spent the last 5 years travelling to source the most interesting emerging artists for foundations and private collectors.
Since completing a Masters in Contemporary Art at the Courtauld Institute, Arianne Levene has worked within the art world, most notably at Sotheby's, UBS and for Lord Jacob Rothschild. She has since set up her own art consultancy, New Art World, advising major collectors on contemporary art from India, Pakistan, Iran and the Middle East.
Eglantine de Ganay
After studying law, Eglantine de Ganay completed a Masters in Art Management at the EAC in Paris. Scouring the globe she invests a great amount of personal time and energy into sourcing the best in contemporary art from emerging markets, particularly China, for clients all over the world.
"While there is a lot of interest in Iranian art, often the focus is on the more established artists who fit with an exoticised view of Iran," says Levene, "we wanted to show a vibrant new generation of artists whose practice reflects a more heterogeneous view of life there."
Made in Iran will take place from 23rd June - 11th July 2009 at
Address: 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Opening hours: 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday
Nearest tubes: Oxford Circus, Regents Park and Portland Street.
Born in 1973 in Tehran, Shirin Aliabadi studied Art History and Archaeology at the University of Paris. She has exhibited in New York, London, Paris, Germany, Denmark, Dubai, Germany and Sweden.
Born in 1979 Ansarinia lives and works and Tehran. She is one of three short-listed nominees of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative 2008. She is also, with curator Leyla Fakhr, one of three artist/curator team winners of the inaugural Abraaj Capital Art prize, 2009.
Born 1978 in Tehran Arash Hanei graduated in Photography from Azad University of Art, Iran in 2002. He went on to complete the Photo-Dialogue Contest, Iranian Artist's Forum, Tehran, Iran and showed at the 9th Biennial of Iranian Contemporary Photography, Tehran. He has completed residencies in New Delhi and Johannesburg and has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions globally.
Born 1969 in Tehran he studied a BA in Photography at Azad University in Tehran. He has exhibited in numerous solo and group shows within and outside Tehran including: Switzerland, UK, Paris, Bulgaria, Turkey, Australia, Denmark, France and Germany. He won First Prize in 2007 for the Second Humorous Photo Festival in Tehran and in 2006 First Prize for the First Shoukha Photography Award.
Born 1970, in Tehran, Kermati took a B.A. in English Language and then went on to complete a B.A. and MA in 1996 in Fine Art at the University in Tehran. She was in 2004 winner of the Grand prize at Asia Art Biennial and was shortlisted for the 2009 Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize.
Berhouz Rae was born in Azerbaijan in 1979, he moved to Tehran in the 1980's where he still lives and works. He has a B.A. in Photography from Azad University, Tehran. He has participated in numerous solo and group shows outside Tehran including Switzerland, France, Australia, Spain and U.K.
Born in 1982 in Isfahan, he received a B.A in painting from the University of Tehran where he is still based. He is represented by the renowned XVA Gallery in Dubai and has exhibited in London and Paris.
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