We Are Standing Outside Time
An Ongoing Artistic Collaboration Between Shahram Entekhabi and Behrang Samadzadegan
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Changing Perspectives

Elahe Helbig

 

In the course of the growing role contemporary art of „non-western regions“ is assigned in the era of globalization as well as shifts in political-economic power structures the complex young and strained Iranian art scene gains increas­ingly importance. In Iran, a generation of artists is emerging over the time, who interpret art as a critical practice and accordingly create works with cultural and political themes for a primarily local audience. Nevertheless, they are globally co-present in exhibitions, museums and biennials and are agitating on the interna­tional art market in different ways.

 

After the political changes in 1979 and especially during the Iran-Iraq-war from 1980 to 1988 the Diaspora was the only way out for many Iranian artists. How­ever, within the western art scene these artists only gained acceptance under the dictate of strangeness; they had to submit themselves to the constraint to make use of their provenance in the context of identity. Consequently, Iranian artists outside Iran conceive their identity and place in the western art scenes only with respect to the “differences” that they hold against such; they are reduced to their origin and thus demarcated, in spite of their highly differentiated conceptions of art. Thus they are deformed by using the unspecific term Iranian artists in the Diaspora as an antipole to Iranian artists living and working in Iran.

 

This categorization, still enforced from a western perspective, is no longer justified in a henceforth global and connected world of art. In recent years an increasing number of Iranian artists no longer live in either Iran or the Diaspora. Instead, they wander continuously between east and west. Hence, in the context of an increasingly decentralized and merging world the former importance of Diaspora as a distinction between home and foreign has become obsolete. Rather, the roots of those artists lie in ideas, as opposed to being manifested in places. This new generation of artists, being stuck in between diffusing borders, question the hegemony of the “West” as a centre and the “non-western regions” as the periphery of art and emphasize the claim of “Global Art” to a contempo­rary art without borders demanding new definitions from the art.

 

Elahe Helbig

Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn, Department

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* We Are Standing Outside Time, published on the occasion of the exhibition: THE STATE OF ‘IN-BETWEEN’ IN CONTEMPORARY IRANIAN ART, curated by Julia Allerstorfer, Atelierhaus Salzamt, Linz, Austria 2012