Critics’ Picks

Mojtaba Amini, Sarb-e riz—Talqin, Instructing the Dead (detail), 2012, soap, camel hair, ceramic, dimensions variable.


“SubTehran: Subjective Truth from Iran”

Center of Contemporary Art | Tbilisi
51 Dimitri Uznadze St
June 21–July 12

“SubTehran: Subjective Truth from Iran” is a rare and complex exhibition that makes a multinarrative intervention in just three rooms and a very small back room, which screens Samira Eskandafar’s feature film Root Canal, 2013. The show, curated by Sohrab Kashani, features nineteen Iranian artists of the postrevolution generation, with the majority of these artists still based in Iran. “SubTehran” moreover presents the most comprehensive view of Iranian contemporary art ever to be exhibited in Georgia, despite the fact that the countries are so close to each other.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the show is the expressive quality of images presented in various media: film, photo, video, installation, sculpture, painting, graphics, and performance. The exhibition also mingles word and image, poetry and art, history and modernity, within negotiated modes of deconstruction and reconstruction. For instance, Mehrdad Afsari’s video There is no news in Iran, 2011, makes subtle reference to the political stagnation of his home country. Here a wall, animated with moving shadows of trees, presents a comment on the conditionality of the veil separating Iran from the rest of the world. Meanwhile, in Mojtaba Amini’s sculptures Sarb-e riz—Talqin, Instructing the Dead, 2012, human heads made from soap and camel hair sit on three ceramic-tiled pedestals. The title of this piece invokes a Muslim burial tradition—of relatives speaking to deceased family members—but without the nationalism common in the popular culture of post-1970s Iran. Indeed, throughout the show, critical perspectives offered by these artists shed new light on present-day Iran. Overall the space creates a charged atmosphere, infusing Iranian culture’s rich legacy with even richer visual expression.