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The Museum Gazetteer


Iranians Express Themselves through Modern Art


Shirin Aliabdai and Farhad Moshiri, We Are All American Operation Supermarket Series 2006 Ink Jet Print 100 x 75 cm copyright artists

After the controversial electoral candidacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the violent demonstrations following in Iran, the exhibit "Iran Inside Out" couldn't be more relevant. The exhibit will be open from June 26 until September 5, 2009 at the Chelsea Museum of Art.

Fifty-six Iranian artists have been selected in order to share their vision on their country and Diaspora through artistic language. This exhibit is a view of Iran from the inside and the outside.

The exhibition is spread out on two floors and includes photography, videos, paintings, and sculptures. It is more than just informative. As Till Fellrath, curator of the exhibit says, "it is more an attempt to examine how a divided population has adapted on both sides."

Siamak Filizadeh, Rustam Series, Photomontage digital print on canvas, various dimensions, 2009 copyright artist and courtesy of Aaran Gallery.

The exhibit is separated on five sections on different topics: "War and Politics," "Gender and Sexuality," "On street Culture with Tehran," "On Culture as Commodity" and " On Reinventing the Traditional Art Forms." Most visitors are surprised. Far from the cliché, Iranian art is not only Persian calligraphy and veiled woman on the streets of Tehran. Iranian artists are inspired by their roots and culture, but also express their opinions on the global art movement. That's why this art is so impressive and at the same time different from what we are used to.

The photojournalist Abbas Kowsari presents a surprising collection of pictures on a bodybuilding contest representing masculinity, portraying an unknown face of Iran today.

In "Operation Supermarket," photographers Farhad Moshiri and Shirin Aliabadi create photomontages with supermarket products. The artists describe their works as "poetry with detergent."

One of the most impressive works for me was by Nazgol Ansarina. They seem to be just a Persian decoration, but if you get closer, you will notice that each line represents a person and an action of the daily life in Tehran. They are amazing, bright and beautiful. Unfortunately, the museum could not provide piuctures of these works and would not allow me to take my own.

Communication and interaction between women in Tehran are also explored in the exhibit by Saghar Daerri and her paintings. Women are painted in colorful dresses, with headscarves stylishly, casually worn; legs fashionably revealed, aggressively pulling colorful garments off racks in a discount sale. The Their emotional expressions and colorful renderings contrast with the usual perception of women in Iran. As Saghar Daerri said "My aim is to show that girls are girls anywhere. In Iran and anywhere else in the world."

In this difficult period for Iranian people, this exhibit is a good place to go in order to discover more this country, and your perception of Iranian art.


Chelsea Art Museum
Facade of Chelsea Art Museum on West 22nd street. Photo by Chelsea Art Museum.

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New York, NY 10011 USA
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Suzanne Trouve Feff, a native of Paris, is a contributor to the Museum Gazeeter.