Performing art in Tehran(Read article summary)
In a Tehran art gallery, performance artists covertly bring attention to the authoritarian regime.
â€˘ A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
A stoneâ€™s throw from Tehranâ€™s notorious Evin prison, three young people sit in an austere room, examining folders that turn out to hold their personal case files. Behind a desk in the corner of the room, an expressionless man slowly takes notes and leafs through the cases.
Though this may seem like a nightmarish realization of Franz Kafkaâ€™s â€śThe Trialâ€ť â€“ a copy of which is symbolically placed on the examinerâ€™s table â€“ this scene takes place in an art gallery. As part of a popular exhibition visited by up to 1,000 spectators daily, it aims to introduce performance art here.
Curator Amir Rad invited 30 local artists to conceptualize experimental performances of their own choosing. Some strove to rouse spectators to the authoritarian realities of their everyday lives. Others criticized tangible problems, such as air pollution. Still others targeted various social clichĂ©s.
â€śI wanted to ... find new ways of expression,â€ť says Mr. Rad. Doing so may introduce a new avenue for independent artists who are constantly searching to circumvent the restrictions of the Islamic Republicâ€™s notoriously rigid cultural environment.
â€śThe relationship between artists and the government is like Tom and Jerry,â€ť says cocurator Mohammad Rezaeerad. â€śTom is always chasing Jerry, but Jerry always finds a way to outsmart him.â€ť