Studio view Bita Fayyazi
Studio view Behnam Kamrani
Studio view Newsha Tavakolian
Studio view Negar Tahsili

What Is the Day Today, Mr. Locke?

Video talks and virtual studio visits with the Iranian artists
Bita Fayyazi, Behnam Kamrani, Newsha Tavakolian, Negar Tahsili
Online and on site
Curated by Negar Tahsili
Moderation: Iris Dressler and Negar Tahsili
Registration + zoom link at:
Language: English

The Württembergischer Kunstverein has invited four contemporary Iranian artists to tell the stories behind their works in the form of videos and to provide insights into their different practices. The project was initiated and curated by Negar Tahsili.

On Saturday, October 9, starting at 6 p.m., the videos of the talks will be presented for the first time at the Württembergischer Kunstverein, both on site and via Zoom. Afterwards, the artists will be available online for discussions.

Almost a year ago, Todd Meany, a news anchor in Cleveland, Ohio, got a call from his producer about an unusual problem created by the coronavirus pandemic. Nobody could remember what day it was. What could a local newscast do? Create a morning show segment, of course, with a dash of seventies-style game show music: “What Day Is It?” While we were all staying inside—stripped of life’s usual rhythm by the coronavirus pandemic— losing track of time was a common feeling. During the lockdown, I was thinking about what John Locke, the “Father of Liberalism,” wrote about “freedom.” He once famously contemplated the freedom of a prisoner who doesn’t know that he is in jail. The question goes: If the prisoner makes no attempt to leave the locked room, and is able to do everything that he or she ever chose to do without hinderance, then can we really say that the prisoner is actually a prisoner? While the pandemic continues to hold the world hostage, can we count ourselves free when we are compelled to self-isolate? What is the effect of social isolation on the brain? What happens when creative people are forced into isolation? Artists may have to adapt their ways of working in order to continue making art. Depending on the situation, a time of solitude can be either welcome or uninvited.

To explore how it is possible to be creative during such a time, I invited Iranian artists to collaborate by filming their surroundings and giving virtual studio visits, along with artist talks—thus letting us dive into their sources of inspiration during the coronavirus pandemic. The result is four online artist talks, each an art piece of its own, bringing studio visitors into the creative world of the artists.

– Nagar Tashili

Bita Fayyazi
Bita Fayyazi (b. 1962) is an artist and pioneer in the field of Iranian public art projects. She is known for her theatrical, large-scale works and is particularly interested in collaborative art projects, in working with others, and in developing and executing an idea or theme. She has exhibited her artwork at various venues, including Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen, Barbican Centre, London, 51st International Venice Biennial, Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg im Breisgau, and the 9th Ceramic Biennale, South Korea. Her works of art are included in many internationally renowned collections. Fayyazi published a book called Four Years Four Projects in 2017; and, commissioned by Luciano Benetton, was published by Fabrica Publications in 2014.

Behnam Kamrani
Behnam Kamrani (b. 1968) is an Iranian multidisciplinary artist. He uses visual elements of Islamic art and traditional Persian creative works to make his video art, installations, and digital paintings. Kamrani holds a PhD in research in the arts. He is an art critic, serves on the jury of many art prizes, and is a faculty member at Tehran University of Art. He has curated various exhibitions in galleries in Tehran and co-curated the Shanghai Biennale. Kamrani has had fourteen solo exhibitions and more than 300 group exhibitions in Iran and in other countries such as Italy, France, Japan, China, the United States, England, and the United Arab Emirates.

Newsha Tavakolian
Newsha Tavakolian (b. 1981) is a photographer and a member of Magnum. She began working for the Iranian press at the age of sixteen, covering wars in Iraq and a range of social issues in her native Iran. Over the years, her focus shifted to photography as art. Tavakolian has photographed female guerrilla fighters in Iraq, Syria, and Colombia, prohibited Iranian female singers, and the lives of people living under sanctions. Tavakolian was the fifth laureate of the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award and the principal laureate of the 2015 Prince Claus Award. Among others, Tavakolian’s work has found its place within the private collections of international institutions, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the British Museum, Sackler Gallery, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Negar Tahsili
Negar Tahsili (b. 1980) is an inventor, filmmaker, and multidisciplinary artist. She directs films and works on interdisciplinary exhibition-based projects around the world. Her recent art projects have been based on the concept of cloning and displacement. One of her most recent projects involved re-curating and displacing Gabès Cinema Fen: Stuttgart, a Tunisian film festival at the Württembergischer Kunstverein. Apart from curating, she has had many exhibitions across the globe, and her documentary films about culture and art have been screened in international film festivals and featured on the international broadcasters like arte.?

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