What if Not Exotic?
Critical Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art
Curated by: Aria Eghbal – Mahsa Farhadikia
Coordinated by: Erit Majdipour
Presented by: Building Bridges Art Exchange
November 9- December 10, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 9, 5-8 PM
Artists: Farah Abolghasem, Ghazale Baniahmad, Afshin Chizari, Aria Eghbal, Farzane Ghadyanloo, Parisa Ghaderi, Farhad Kalantary, Mohammad Khalili, Morteza Khosravi, Ramyar Manouchehrzadeh, Laleh Memar Ardestani, Samane Motallebi, Ali Nadjian, Nasrin Najafi, Nikzad Nodjoumi, Nazanin Norouzi, Behnam Sadighi, Kolsoum Salehi, Shaya Shahrestani, Omid Shalmani, Rosita Sharafjahan, Foroozan Shirghani, Maryam Tabatabaei
The exhibition titled What If Not Exotic? Critical Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art, is taking form at a time when international art markets in general, and western art markets in particular, are filled with works of art that present predictable, marketable images based on cliché assumptions about the local lives, identities, and socio-political concerns of artists labeled as Middle Eastern. The Present exhibition is an attempt at presenting a “realistic” image of contemporary Iranian art— as an alternative to the common Neo-Orientalist representations of the “Middle Eastern” art in general and Iranian art in particular— in Western art markets.
The exhibition features the artworks that reflect the lived experiences of artists, and seeks to consider the varied and complex individuals, rather than the monolith of a singular brand titled “Contemporary Iranian Art”. All the selected works maintain deep and significant connections to their socio-political context that fall beyond clichés and common expectations. In other words, they have not resorted to predictable and predetermined subject matters and visual elements to question their current political situation.
In fact, the selected pieces have a strong experiential aspects related to real limitations that artists face on a personal and professional level. Therefore, dialogue between these works and the artists’ lived context is a complex interwoven one that affects different aspects of the process: from the artists’ choice in media, to the size and the color palette, and from the style and formal language, to the subject matter. The exhibition is arranged in four main sections. In each section, a significant and emblematic aspect of Iranian art and life is examined: Public Spheres, Private Interiors, The Body; from defiance to deformation, and Memory; from Personal to Collective.