A Brief Topogrpahy of West Eastern Imagery and Iranian Contemporary Art

with Bernd Fechner, exh. cat. Outsider Art Under the Crescent Moon – Iran, Open Art Museum, 2023.

Written for the exhibition “Outsider Art under the Crescent Moon” at the Open Art Museum, St. Gallen (2023), the joint text by the two mohit.art initiators approaches the current context of Iranian contemporary art from more general reflections on the Western gaze and the Orient as European “Islamized” via the entanglements of different modernities.

The text in German and English can be downloaded as a pdf file via mohit.art.

Cover detail. Artwork by Farshid Maleki.

Moderne und zeitgenössische Kunst in Iran

Kulturelle Authentizität, glokale Verortungen und transnationale Verflechtungen
(Modern and contemporary art in Iran. Cultural authenticity, glocal localizations and transnational interdependencies)
Julia Allerstorfer in conversation with Hannah Jacobi and Katrin Nahidi
Monika Leitsch-Kiesl, Franziska Heiß, eds., Was sagt die Kunst? Gegenwartskunst und Wissenschaft im Dialog, transcript, 2022, 293-303.

Cover detail. Artwork by Esin Turan.

In the conversation, they discuss art historians Katrin Nahidi (whose dissertation will be published by Cambridge Univ. Press in 2023: The Cultural Politics of Art in Iran – Modernism, Exhibitions, and Art Production) and Hannah Jacobi’s various fields of work and projects, their views on the state of research on Iranian art, on reception and discourse, and on art of the Iranian diaspora.

Honar-e Jadid: A New Art in Iran

editor, mohit.art, 2022.

How might the genesis of contemporary art production in Iran be defined? And why is this question so significant and interesting, especially in relation to art in Iran? This online publication attempts to outline the genesis of contemporary art in Iran from the viewpoint of conceptual artistic strategies. The ten texts assembled here discuss the influence of new art — “honar-e jadid” in Farsi — which began to emerge in Iran in the mid-1990s and is characterized in particular by conceptual artistic strategies and the use of new media and formats, on contemporary at in Iran as a whole. Seven Iranian art historians, art critics, and artists, some of whom have never or rarely published in English, were invited to write about a wide range of historical and artistic developments in relation to a new art in Iran: Majid Akhgar, Helia Darabi, Amirali Ghasemi, Ali Gholipour, Ghazaleh Hedayat, Arman Khalatbari, and Nastaran Saremy. To expands the perspective of the online publication beyond the specific Iranian context, two texts, one by German/Austrian art historian Sabeth Buchmann and the interview with Dutch/Vietnamese conceptual artist Danh Võ draw a link to contemporary positions of global conceptualism. Introduction by Hannah Jacobi. Texts are published in English, Farsi, and German (if the original is in German).

Screenshot www.mohit.art. Artwork by Bita Fayyazi.

Wie die Kunstszene im Iran der Pandemie trotzt

(How the art scene in Iran is defying the pandemic) taz, 20. Juli 2020 (print).

Nooshin Shafiee, Untitled, digital photography, 50 x 75 cm. Courtesy of Emkan Gallery.

It has never been easy for artists in Iran to make a living or for gallery owners to successfully run a gallery. The Corona crisis has exacerbated the situation for those involved in the arts in the country severely affected by Covid-19. The operators of the non-profit organizations New Media Society in Tehran and Va Space in Isfahan, the gallery owners of Dastan, O Gallery, Emkan, Ab/Anbar in Tehran and Emrooz Gallery in Isfahan, the artists Nooshin Shafiee and Raana Farnoud, as well as the editor-in-chief of the art magazine Herfeh: Honarmand tell what the pandemic means for them and their work and how they deal with it.

Factory Rules

This article takes a look at the history of the newly opened Argo Factory in Tehran, thus clarifying and problematizing its claim as the first private museum of its size in Iran to set a new standard for contemporary art in Iran. Prior to the restoration of the former beer factory, Hamidreza Pejman, director and founder of the Pejman Foundation, underlined this claim by exhibiting young stars from the global art scene such as Neïl Beloufa and the artist collective Slavs and Tatars in the deteriorating building. The new Argo Factory opened with artist Nazgol Ansarinia’s first major survey show in Iran. As one of the younger internationally successful Iranian artists, Ansarinia’s selection reinforces Pejman’s intent to reset contemporary art standards in Iran and establishes the role that the museum intends to play within the local art scene.

Printed edition, detail.

Zeitgenössische Kunst in Iran

(Contemporary art in Iran. Between creativity, commercialization, and control), bpb.de, January 24, 2020.

Shahab Fotouhi, "Untitled", 2015, ink-jet print. Part of the exhibition "Thorn in the Eye, Bone in the Throat", O Gallery, Tehran, October 16-28, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

For the new dossier on Iran of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb) (The Federal Agency for Civic Education), this article takes a closer look at the local art scene. It is, on the one hand, struggling with advancing commercialization and the Iranian authorities exercising increased control and influence on its activities. On the other hand, it has to deal with the artists’ persistently precarious working conditions as well as those of independent, non-profit spaces in Tehran and other cities. The film and literature industries in Iran have been facing these problems for decades. In addition, the history of modernist and contemporary art in Iran in the second half of the 20th century to this day is outlined against the background of political developments in Iran.

A Teheran l’arte contemporanea continua a crescere

(In Tehran, contemporary art continues to grow), Il Sole 24 Ore / ArtEconomy24, January 21, 2020.

Despite the hyperinflation of the Iranian rial since 2018, the art market in Iran is booming, at least as far as the secondary market and the auctions of modern and contemporary art at Tehran Auctions are concerned. At the last auction of modern Iranian art on January 17, 2020, mostly Iranian blue-chip artists from the modernist period before the 1979 revolution fetched very high prices, even by international market standards. This suggests art to be a lucrative field of investment that, after the real estate industry, is developing into another area suitable for speculation.

"12th Tehran Auction: Contemporary Iranian Art" at the Parsian Azadi Hotel, Tehran, January 17, 2020. Courtesy of Tehran Auction.

Argo Factory in Teheran

artcollective.club, January 14, 2020.

Nazgol Ansarinia, "Article 47", 2015, paper, paste, and cardboard, 65 x 35 x 35 cm. Exhibition view "The Room Becomes A Street", January 10-April 10, 2020, Argo Factory, Tehran. Courtesy of the artist and Green Art Gallery, Dubai. Photo: Hamid Eskandari

On January 10, 2020, a private museum called Argo Factory opened in Tehran. This is notable not only for its impressive architecture – the ruins of a 100-year-old beer factory have been carefully restored – it is the first private museum of its scale in Iran. The article traces the intentions and goals of founder and art collector Hamidreza Pejman and takes a look at the opening exhibition by artist Nazgol Ansarinia. It explores ways in which the museum strikes a balance between promoting the local scene and exerting influence through its monopoly, straddling both its independence and state control.

Identität im Zwiespalt

(Identity in Conflict. The Burden of Representation: Contemporary Iranian Photography in the Pergamon Museum)
Der Tagesspiegel, December 28, 2019 (print).

Capturing Iran’s Past” was on view from November 7, 2019 until January 26, 2020 at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. As one of the rare museum exhibitions on contemporary Iranian art in Berlin (and Germany), the show was met with high expectations. However, the review examines how also this exhibition relied on representations of a cultural Iranian authenticity in lieu of opening new possibilities to introduce contemporary artistic positions from Iran into the European art context.

Printed edition, detail.

Le donne iraniane dell’arte in mostra e in asta a New York

(Exhibition and auction with Iranian women-artists in New York), Il Sole 24 Ore / ArtEconomy24, November 9, 2019.

Installation view of “A Bridge Between You And Everything”, curated by Shirin Neshat and organized by CHRI, High Line Nine Gallery, New York, 2019. Photo: David Regan.

On the occasion of the exhibition „A Bridge Between You And Everything“ with thirteen Iranian women-artists – curated by Shirin Neshat and organized by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on view November 7-24, 2019, at the exhibition space High Line Nine in New York – the text addresses the art of Iranian diaspora artists and the role that artist Neshat herself has played and continues to play for the way a contemporary Iranian art is perceived today. In this context the article takes a look on the market for contemporary Iranian art and the price range for the partly still young and partly well established artists in the exhibition whose works could be bought at an online charity auction on Artsy.

Dar Zaman

(In Time), Herfeh Honarmand, no. 73, autumn 2019 (1398) (print).

In the framework of various texts included in this issue focusing on the Iranian artist Shahla Hosseini (born in 1954), the article discusses „In Time“, an installative work that comprised the entire space of Tehran’s Emkan Gallery in February 2017. As one of only three installation-works in Hosseini’s œuvre, “In Time” takes a special place at the center of the artist’s universe where genre boundaries are constantly crossed and the binary positions of nature and technology are set aside.

Printed edition, detail.

Beirut Art Fair rivela l’arte emergente

(Beirut Art Fair reveals emergins art), Il Sole 24 Ore / ArtEconomy24, September 27, 2019.

Booth of Primo Marella Gallery with works by Abdoulaye Konaté and Joël Andrianimearisoa. Photo: Elie Bekhazi / Beirut Art Fair

The 10th edition of the Beirut Art Fair took place from September 18 to 22, 2019. The report focuses on the art fair as a platform for emerging, contemporary art in Lebanon and the region as well as for emerging global markets such as the market for contemporary African art. It further outlines the development of the contemporary art scene in Beirut.


“The Spark Is You: parasol unit in Venice“ took place as a collateral event of the 58th Venice Biennale and presented nine contemporary Iranian artists at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello in Venice. This review traces the transcultural qualities of contemporary Iranian art that were highlighted in the exhibition.

Printed edition, detail.

Teer Art piccola ma promittente

(Teer Art small but promising), Il Sole 24 Ore / ArtEconomy24, June 30, 2019.

Booths of Dastan Gallery presenting the artist duo Peybak and Outsider Art, Teer Art Fair 2019. Photo: Matin Jameie / Teer Art

The report on the second edition of Teer Art, the contemporary art fair in Tehran, presents and discusses the concept and concerns of the art fair, its implementation and organization, the presented artists, participating galleries, collectors, and sales. It further includes voices that critically examine the art fair in the context of the local art scene.

Stimmen aus Teheran

Interviews zur zeitgenössischen Kunst im Iran (Voices from Tehran: Interviews on contemporary art in Iran), Edition Faust 2017.

What does it mean to be an artist in Iran today? And how did contemporary art and the art scene in Tehran evolve? Over the course of eighteen interviews, artists and theorists, curators and gallerists in Tehran speak about their work and the conditions of art production, adding to a particular narrative on contemporary art in Iran. They shed light on artistic approaches, on modes of operation in the art field, discuss their own art, and show how the socio-political environment in Iran influences local artistic work. Readers will gain unique insights into the current Iranian art world engendered in the context of reform-oriented politics in Iran after 1997, which is in turn more active and manifold than ever before.

The volume Stimmen aus Tehran comprises an introduction to the contemporary art and art scene in Tehran and interviews with Bita Fayyazi, Sohrab Mahdavi, Neda Razavipour, Jinoos Taghizadeh, Shahab Fotouhi, Barbad Golshiri, Nazgol Ansarinia, Mahmoud Bakhshi, Helia Darabi, Ruyin Pakbaz, Vahid Hakim, Iman Afsarian, Maryam Majd, Nazila Noebashari, Lili Golestan, Rozita Sharafjahan, Hamid Severi, and Mohammad Ghazali.

Funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Film: Rosa Merk

Kommerz und Kampfgeist

In den Galerien Teherans blüht die zeitgenössische Kunstszene. Andernorts haben es Kreative noch schwer (Commerce and fighting spirit: The contemporary art scene is flourishing in the galleries of Tehran. Elsewhere, creatives are still having a hard time), Der Tagesspiegel, no. 23 003, January 20, 2017 (print).

Bita Fayyazi, „Vaudville“, exhibition and performance, Khak Gallery, December 25, 2015-January 25, 2016, Tehran. Photo: Barzin Baharlouie

The article lends insight into the contemporary art scene in Tehran and the current activities and exhibitions in the galleries. It outlines the problems and challenges that artists in Tehran and other cities in Iran face today.


Namayeshgah-e Elmira Iravanizad dar Emkan (Entangled: Exhibition by Elmira Iravanizad at Emkan Gallery), Honar Agah, no. 8, May / June 2016 (Khordad 1395) (print).

The article discusses the first solo exhibition “Tanideh / Entangled” by Berlin-based artist Elmira Iravanizad at Emkan Gallery in Tehran. Here, for the first time, she displayed collages, wall sculptures and a sound installation in addition to her paintings. While her collages and sculptures appear as variations and enhancements of her painterly approach into the three-dimensional, the addition of sound connects her abstract works to the “realistic” urban environment of the metropolis Tehran.

Printed edition, detail. Photo: private

La scena artistica di Teheran si apre all’arte internazionale

Secondo la storica dell’arte Hannah Jacobi (The Tehran art scene opens up to international art, according to art historian Hannah Jacobi),
Interview by Silvia Anna Barrilà, Il Sole 24 Ore / ArtEconomy24, October 5, 2015.

Neda Razavipour, "Oscillation", performance, Etemad Gallery, February 21.-28., 2014, Tehran. Credit: the artist

The interview focuses on the art market, but also discusses current trends and interesting artists, the relationship of art in Iran and the art of the Iranian diaspora, and the history of modern and contemporary art in Iran before and after the 1979 revolution.

A Journey of Ideas Across. In Dialog with Edward Said

Multimedia online-publication, edited by Adania Shibli, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2014.
Coordination, media editor

The multimedia online-publication, with its e-book companion, traces the relevance of Said’s ideas today, as they continue to journey and inspire new links between different audiences and cultures with various political, social, and economic concerns, and new modes of intellectual and artistic interventions. The online-publication draws on the interdisciplinary symposium with the same name (31.10.–2.11.2013, at HKW in Berlin), as it makes the inspiring contributions to the latter, along with new contributions, available to a worldwide public.

Cover e-book, detail. Design: NODE Berlin Oslo

Nadia Kaabi-Linke

Exhibition catalogue Labor Berlin 12. Drifting, edited by Valerie Smith, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2012.

Cover, detail. Design: NODE Berlin Oslo

The catalogue text describes the work “No One Harms Me Unpunished” (2012) by Nadia Kaabi-Linke in the exhibition “Labor Berlin 12. Drifting” (December 15, 2012-January 20, 2013, HKW), and decodes the multilayered levels of significance of the installation.