Ali Banisadr: The Merchants

Safar/Voyage: Contemporary works by Arab, Iranian, and Turkish Artists will premiere at Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology next month. This exhibition will mark the first time that the work of internationally-lauded, contemporary artists from the Middle East will receive a dedicated showing in Canada.

Mona Hatoum: Hot Spot
[Mona Hatoum, Hot Spot; Courtesy of the Rennie Collection, Vancouver. Photo by SITE Photography]

The 16 esteemed and celebrated artists being featured are of Arab, Iranian, and Turkish descent, and their works have been carefully selected by Dr. Fereshteh Daftari, an acclaimed curator of Middle Eastern art collections at MOA. Dr. Daftari was a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

These artists define themselves and the world according to their own creative representations, often informed by culturally specific conditions. Their diverse artworks speak to the universal theme of voyage (a translation of the Persian safar), from the external and geographical to the internal, emotional, and existential.

One such artist – Parviz Tanavoli – has never before exhibited in Canada, despite calling West Vancouver home since 1989. Parviz, who splits his time between Vancouver and Tehran, is considered a pioneer of modern sculpture in Iran.

Parviz Tanavoli: Oh Persepolis II detail
[Parviz Tanavoli, Oh Persepolis II detail; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Kyla Bailey, MOA]

His work is world renowned, and has been shown at the British Museum, the Isfahan City Center, New York City’s Nelson Rockefeller Collection and Museum of Modern Art and Vienna’s Museum of Modern Art, amongst others.

The exhibition will foster thought-provoking dialogue coupled with a deep appreciation and understanding about a culture and region of the world that – despite their constant presence in news and media – are simplified, reduced, and misrepresented in most North Americans’ conceptions.

Kader Attia: Untitled (Wall Painting)
[Kader Attia, Untitled (Wall Painting); Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, 2006. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Blaise Adilon]

The 15 other artists featured will be Adel Abidin, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Nazgol Ansarinia, Kutlug AtamanAyman Baalbaki, Ali Banisadr, Taysir Batniji, Mona Hatoum, Susan Hefuna, Raafat Ishak, Y.Z. Kami, Farhad Moshiri, Youssef Nabil, Hamed Sahihi, and Mitra Tabriziani.

In addition to the exhibition, artists, curators, filmmakers, and scholars will participate in a three-day public discussion on ideas surrounding nomadic aesthetics, the importance of place, curatorial approaches, and the role of institutions in the representations of contemporary art and culture.

The MOA Global Dialogue will conclude with a special feature, “In Conversation with Jian Ghomeshi” in MOA’s Great Hall the first week of May.

Safar/Voyage: Contemporary works by Arab, Iranian, and Turkish Artists
Dates: April 20 to September 15
Venue: Museum of Anthropology at UBC, 6393 N.W. Marine Drive, Vancouver
Tickets: $16.75 adults; $14.50 students/seniors (65+); $9.00 Tuesdays 5 to 9 pm; Free to MOA members, UBC staff, students and faculty

Visit the MOA website for more details.

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