Exhibition and cultural programme Tehran Collection visits Berlin for the first time

Vaziri Moghadam: Scratches on the Earth
Vaziri Moghadam: Scratches on the Earth | © Teheran Sammlung

After being hidden away for forty years, the unique modern art collection of Iran is being shown abroad for the first time. Starting on 4 December 2016, the Nationalgalerie of the Staatliche Museen will offer insights into the collection of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. The Goethe-Institut is organizing the fringe programme for the exhibition.

During a talk on 6 September at the Villa von der Heydt, Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, described the exhibition project as a significant gesture of cultural diplomacy and as a highlight of the Berlin exhibition calendar. Parzinger expressed hopes that the exhibition and the fringe programme organized by the Goethe-Institut would also make a contribution towards strengthening civil society in Iran.

Iranian cultural life today

Johannes Ebert, the secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut, said, “The programme of events will provide some contemporary context for the Tehran collection, while keeping abreast of what’s happening in Iranian cultural life today. The Goethe-Institut’s work outside Germany fosters in-depth cultural encounters, a spirit of open dialogue, and a variety of forms of artistic expression, which in turn lend audiences in Berlin new insights into this complex and multifaceted country.”

The collection was put together for the newly established Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1977 under the second Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the works of Western art were only shown to a limited extent on site, with just a few individual works exhibited abroad. Now for the first time, they are travelling as a collection outside Iran. The Nationalgalerie of Berlin’s Staatliche Museen is the first international institution to present this special collection to the public.

The exhibition will feature about sixty outstanding works of American and European art, including works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon, alongside artists from Iranian modern art such as Faramarz Pilaram, Mohsen Vaziri Moghadam and Behjat Sadr. In this way the artistic dialogue at the centre of this collection will be a visible feature of the Berlin exhibition. Visitors will be given the rare opportunity to get to know important examples of Iranian art from the second half of the twentieth century.

Contemporary art from Iran

The Goethe-Institut is organizing the fringe programme for the exhibition in close cooperation with the Berlinale, the CTM Festival, the Freie Universität Berlin and other partners. The aim is to provide the collection’s works a cultural and historical context, to showcase a remarkable picture of Iran’s contemporary arts scene and to create spaces for cultural collaboration.

Works from the visual arts, film, music, literature, theatre and philosophy illustrate the perspectives and boundaries that shape artistic production in Iran. Visits to the homes of Iranian families will give writers from Tehran and German participants the opportunity to engage in dialogue. A philosophical programme will explore the concept of modernity in Western and Iranian discourse. Also, a series of concerts will bring together traditional santoor, setar and daf sounds with those of Iran’s contemporary electronic scene.

Presales for tickets to the exhibition have begun. Tickets and guided tours in German and English can be booked online now.