The Getty Center
Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Museum Lecture Hall
Past Event

The contemporary Iranian art scene is young, dynamic, and multifaceted. A complex and highly sophisticated social network, rather than the usual texts and artifacts, govern the development of its narratives and aesthetic judgments. Within this network, institutional letterhead seems to carry no weight in penetrating and amassing data when compared to the words of a friend-of-a-friend. A critical analysis of this art seems to be possible only through the awareness that one was barred from the friend-of-someone's-friend, and therefore excluded from a part of the network that remains vital to the story.

This talk traces the development of contemporary Iranian art, its production, its institutions, and its politics, which is based on the methodological impossibilities of this social network: fragmented but tightly linked; endlessly becoming yet never complete; marketable yet ethical; neither here nor there; and impermanent but indisputably ancient. Getting a sense of what contemporary Iranian art is and what it does today requires an examination of the ways in which the diverse makers, buyers, and consumers of contemporary art—from Tehran to New York and beyond—defy art history's myths about originality, beauty, and singular, stable identities. This art as such could perhaps be grasped by a deployment of multiple perspectives, albeit fragmented, yet inclusive of the world that it depicts. Through the three categories of historicity, marketability, and mobility, this paper reconsiders the definitions of "contemporary" and "art" in its global context.

Talinn Grigor is professor of art history at the University of California, Davis. She is author of Contemporary Iranian Art: From the Street to the Studio and Building Iran: Modernism, Architecture, and National Heritage under the Pahlavi Monarchs.

Made possible with support from the Farhang Foundation

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