Han Nefkens Foundation Production Grant—
Tobacco Factory, Gallery Jousse Entreprise, Art Rottredam
City of Tales
06.02.2019 — 10.02.2019
Martha Kirszenbaum, curator Projections
Exhibition: City of Tales
Artist: Arash Nassiri
Raleigh Rd, Bristol BS3 1TF, UK
Gallery Jousse Entreprise
6 rue Saint Claude, 75003 Paris, FR
Van Nelleweg 1, 3044 BC Rotterdam, NL
In 1962 the Shah of Iran launched the White Revolution; a policy of cultural modernisation motivated by a desire to introduce a Western ideology to Iranian society. The capital city, Tehran, became its showcase, with the architect Victor Gruen — based in Los Angeles and originator of the shopping mall — appointed Chief architect for urban planning. The Californian metropolis, Los Angeles, inspired his blueprint for the transformation of Tehran. This period of change influenced local culture, encompassing music, fashion and the lifestyle choices of its inhabitants'. The Iranian Revolution in 1979 put an abrupt and distinct end to this programme of transformation.
The video ‘City of Tales’ (2017) is a speculative portrayal of a present-day Tehran if the Shah of Iran's ambitious plan for the modernisation of its society and infrastructure had not been prohibited. Filmed during the Iranian New Year celebrations of the spiritual and material renewal of Spring, the artist employs the Los Angeles landscape as a ready-made backdrop for his fictional city — perpetuating its cinematographic function and role within Western culture. To create this hypothetical space — a City of Angels — where the inhabitants' experiences of life in Tehran preoccupy the present day. The characters do not speak English; instead, they adopt an idiom of a Persian language derived from interviews with former Iranian citizens, which are continually communicated to the actors during filming by Nassiri. In the background, Persian neon signs appear above buildings, flooding the streets with vibrant coloured lights.