Art And Culture

Bright Future for Performance Art

Bright Future for Performance Art Bright Future for Performance Art

When it comes to contemporary art in Iran, one often hears about the country’s bustling gallery scene, its innumerable painters, photographers and sculptors, and the prices set by local artists in auctions both at home and abroad. What one rarely hears about, however, is performance art, a medium with a relatively shorter history in Iran and one that has been given far less attention by artists and audiences alike.

Nonetheless, there are artists who have devoted themselves to this new medium. Performance art is a performance within a fine art context and is traditionally interdisciplinary. A performance may be scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation.

Based in Tehran, Ali Ettehad is an artist and curator. Along with his wife, Nikoo Tarkhani (an artist as well), he has been at the forefront of performance art in Iran, and is also one of the better-known names in the country's contemporary art scene in general.

Together, the couple performs in Tehran, curates exhibitions and performance art series, hosts seminars and produces films,   Reorient online magazine wrote.

Speaking on the origins of performance art in Iran, Ettehad said that performance art, vis-à-vis other artistic mediums, is new around the world in general. "It was seen for the first time in Iran in the 1970s. Recently there have been positive developments that have helped bring performance art from out of the shadows."

Ettehad believes that at a time, especially in the Middle East, when markets are dictating what artists should produce, and art is, for the most part, commercially-driven, performance art is powerful in its ability to help artists retain their independence and integrity until the time that this huge 'bubble' (of commercial art) bursts.

Explaining his performances, the artist said, "On the surface, the performances are quite serious, but from my perspective, they’re really cheeky! This aside, each of my performances has a mystical quality."

At present, he is working on a new edition of his last year's performance 'A Requiem for Libricide'. It is an interactive performance that utilizes various media and takes audiences on a tour through history: a tour throughout the lands of the Middle East and the former Byzantine Empire to experience their ancient cultures, Ettehad said.

Performance art usually doesn't require a large budget. "From what I have seen in the past decade, I envision a bright future for performance art in Iran, and can see people slowly becoming more familiar with it and talking about it."