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Two Lectures| From Busan to Teheran、Art belongs to Iranians? Period!

Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum


From Busan to Teheran: Curatorial and Artistic Practices that Lead to Investigations of Social and Historical Realities

Divided We Stand: On the Busan Biennale 2018

Keynote Speaker: Jörg Heiser

Free admission

Time: 14:00 – 15:30

Venue: Conference Room, Inside-Out Art Museum

Together with Cristina Ricupero and Gahee Park, Jörg Heiser co-curates the Busan Biennale 2018 which is themed around artistic perspectives onto divided territories. Torn apart are not only territories – nations, or formerly ethnically connected regions, usually by war, colonization and/or hostile estrangement – but also, importantly, psyches. What kind of sentiments and conditionings does the splitting of territories induce in people’s minds in general, and artistic minds specifically? Vice versa, what kinds of mindsets induce the splitting in the first place?

The biennale – the underlying theme of which is explained in this talk – approaches these questions through the lens of looking at Cold War mythology, and through Science Fiction scenarios. The psycho-mapping of split territories means to ask how the political, economic, and military powers have created ways to inhabit the world, and vice versa, how these ways either reinforce or erode these territorial divisions. What are the struggles resulting from this relationship between psyche and territory, individual and community or people? 


About the Speaker

Jörg Heiser is a professor for art theory at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany, where he is the Director of the Institute for Art in Context. For 20 years, he was on the editorial board of frieze magazine, London, for whom he continues to write. He have many publications, including the books All of a Sudden. Things that Matter in Contemporary Art (2008) and Double Lives in Art and Pop Music (2018, forthcoming). His curatorial projects include Romantic Conceptualism (BueroFriedrich Berlin and Bawag Foundation Vienna, 2007/8), Nuit Blanche Monaco, Monte Carlo (2016), and, together with Cristina Ricupero and Gahee Park, the Busan Biennale 2018, South Korea.

About “Exhibition as Exhibition” Lecture & Forum Series

“Exhibition as Exhibition” is a series of lectures and forums initiated by Carol Yinghua Lu, Director of Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum. This project places “exhibition” at the heart of the issue, and considers it equivalent to artistic practice. This project aims to establish and define the built-in attributes and associated domains of exhibition-making, and to explore the aesthetics of exhibition and the potential of curatorial language in today’s artistic practice, discourses, and socio-political contexts. 

The autonomy of exhibition making is underlined by the belief in exhibition maker as the subject of practice, thus the discussion of exhibitions should be rooted in the specific contexts and cognitive systems intrinsic to each culture, each artistic researcher and each exhibition maker. While researches and exhibitions are confronted by pressure of the global discourse and art systems of other regions, we regard the subjects of practices as points of connectivity. We intend to reactivate the nature of exhibition making as a form of subjectivity and for it to enter into a dialogue with contemporaneity, through inviting exhibition makers to share their understanding of the position of the subject of curatorial practice within the art system and the art discourse, by revisiting art history and making detailed investigations of art history, and by differentiating and analyzing artistic practices based in specific cultural contexts and creative backgrounds.

It is an important prerequisite for this project that we believe exhibition practice and its subjectivity could transcend the art mechanism and the market order, and could go beyond the boundary and rigid consciousness in the understanding of artistic creation, research, system and discourse. To return to the issue of ‘exhibition’ in the present, and to make visible the internal logic and motivations of exhibition as the field of knowledge production is not merely to respond to the dilemma of curation in the global discourse, but to try to re-activate the inward observation, and to embark on the journey while fully recognizing existing limitations and specific practices in the rapidly changing contemporary context.

This project will invite curators and writers from home and abroad to contribute to the discussion by sharing their first-hand experiences and concerns from their work at the frontier of exhibition making. 


Participants: Rouzbeh Akhbari and Eshrat Erfanian (Artists in Residency at Inside-Out Art Museum)

Free admission

Time: 15:45 – 17:15

Venue: Conference Room, Inside-Out Art Museum

This conversation was developed pursuant to ongoing conversations between this month’s artist residents at Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum, Rouzbeh Akhbari and Eshrat Erfanian, and the Inside-Out Museum’s curatorial staff.  Akhbari and Erfanian are different generation Iranian-Canadian artists with a research-driven practice and a shared interest in political economy, urban theory and politics of contemporary image production and distribution. In this event, they will build upon short anecdotes detailing the socio-political contexts framing their departure from Iran and their transition into the arts. This will serve as a starting point to portray a broader image of the minutiae of forces at work in Iranian contemporary art today, particularly under the rigid western-backed sanction regimes that have crippled the mainstream economic structures of the country. 

In hopes of dissecting the complexity of the international gaze upon Iran’s contemporary art scene, this conversation will reflect on a major exhibition of Iranian artists presented in Toronto’s Agha Khan Museum last year, and question its formation as a cultural product primarily constructed for an exotifying western consumer. In contrast, the artists will elaborate on the role of international residencies and alternative/noncommercial spaces that have pried open new opportunities for Iranian artists to engage in important conversations, exhibitions and knowledge sharing within the Global South. Lastly, the conversation will end by situating the current state of affairs in Iran’s arts scene today within the greater regional consciousness of the Arab Spring and its political byproducts.

About the Participants

Rouzbeh Akhbari is an artist working in video installation and film. His practice is research-driven and usually exists at the intersections of political economy, critical architecture and planning. Through a delicate examination of the violence(s) and intimacies that occur at the boundaries of lived experience and constructed histories, Akhbari uncovers the minutiae of power that organizes and regiments the world around us.


Eshrat Erfanian is an artist and scholar working in a range of media including video, installation, digital photography, painting, and printmaking. Her work minds the phenomenon of speed related to digital and new technology and its relation to image production. Erfanian is a visiting Faculty at the Vermont Collage of Fine Arts in Vermont, USA. She is an alumnus of the ISP at Whitney Museum of American Art. and holds a Ph.D. from York University.