TEHRAN. (Iranart) - Vista Gallery is a pioneer in showcasing video art in Tehran and Its latest exhibition of Botanical Video Art proves all that and more, a successful show.
Video art continues to be sidelined in Iran - an art form which relies on moving pictures in a visual and audio medium. Video art came into existence as new consumer video technology became available outside mainstream broadcasting. Video art can take many forms: recordings that are broadcast; installations viewed in galleries or museums; works streamed online, distributed as video tapes, or DVDs; and performances which may incorporate one or more television sets, video monitors, and projections, displaying live or recorded images and sounds.
Vista Gallery is a pioneer in showcasing video art in Tehran. Its latest exhibition of Botanical Video Art proves all that and more, a successful show. Other examples include the almost $10,000 annual award offered by the gallery to any top artistic idea. The following is an interview with Vista Gallery manager Parisa Pahlevan and her cultural-artistic advisor Behnam Kamrani:
Not much is said or done about the medium of video art in Iran. Also not much is generated by holding video art exhibitions. Why did you hold such exhibition in the first place?
Pahlevan: Our main goal at the gallery is to look different and be different. We pay a lot of attention to new talents and ideas in art. Many young students are doing video art works these days. It just doesn’t make any sense for us to ignore this important medium. We had the first edition of the exhibition last year. We even plan to hold sound art and map art exhibitions in the near future. We don’t make a lot of money, but I like to idea of being different and contemporary. The current Botanical Video Art exhibition is being held in collaboration with curator Fereshteh Alamshah. It’s a group art exhibition in collaboration with Farideh Shahsavarani, Hamed Sahihi, Fereshteh Alamshah, Behnam Kamrani and Rasoul Marekzadeh. I’m very excited about the idea and I plan to hold it again next year with new concepts.
Does it offer any identity to your gallery?
Pahlevan: Anywhere in the world art galleries seek credit and recognition from artists and visitors alike. We also pay a great deal of attention to this. The Botanical Video Art exhibit could help us to this end. Contemporary artists love to be part of such events. The world is moving forward and we have to pay a great deal of attention to new media and new art forms. We cannot afford to be left behind in modern technology. We are doing this gradually but steadily. This way we can pave the way for other types of exhibitions as well. All it takes is a little bit of courage.
Kamrani: Vista Gallery has always been flexible toward new media in visual arts. The philosophy is simple: Visual arts come first and that’s how we want to win credit and recognition. You cannot find many galleries in Tehran that pursue such policy. The only gallery that started this new trend before us was the Tarrahan-e Azad Gallery. I’m delighted to say that we followed them in the nick of time. So far we have had two video art exhibitions: Narenj and Botanical. I insisted on having Alamshah on board because she is the only person in Isfahan who has a special website for Iranian video art. Another important reason was that this was happening in a provincial city and the fact that it was taking place annually. Her website has all the things about video art works in Iran. It also helps many artists hold national and international exhibitions, which is great by any standards.
Exhibitions like this; do they help promote video art in Iran?
Kamrani: Any exhibition of video art can help move this new trend forward. That’s what we are trying to do right now. Only a handful of galleries hold such exhibitions because they don’t have the necessary equipment or the venue. I hope this could change overtime.
Tell us about the problems you faced before holding this particular exhibition?
Kamrani: It’s hard to make a video. You need special skills. Many filmmakers and directors tried their luck in video art but failed. It’s a hands-on medium. What we are showing at the exhibition is just a demo of all that. Of course you need to be dead serious when trying to make a video art. For anyone who is enamored with film or remains a devotee of performance, video art can be like a happy marriage between the two. One of the main problems in group exhibition has to be the space. You need monitors, frames and projectors. Most of the time the artists themselves do all this and more. This creates problems for others. Another problem is that there are no producers for video art production in Iran. We need time until this is resolved as well. Another issue is the fact that you cannot easily sell video art productions in Iran.
How was the exhibition? Did you make any money?
Pahlevan: No. We never talked about revenues when we discussed about holding this exhibition. Sometimes video arts have price tags but that’s all really. We never discussed any financial aspects with our collaborating artists.
Kamrani: I managed to sell three video art works during the exhibition. But it’s still too early to talk about generating huge incomes from producing video arts in Iran.
How about cooperation with international festivals and museums? Does it come handy?
Kamrani: To a great extent yes. We offer the annual “Vista” award which can help encourage greater cooperation between the gallery and young talents. We could archive their works online and after some years they could be used by international curators. This can help them find out more about Iranian contemporary artists and what they are up to. Then they can invite our galleries and artists to their international art events and fairs.
How successful is your Vista award? Does it help promote video art?
Pahlevan: The Vista award helps promote the medium of video art in Iran. It paves the way for artists to pay greater attention to the decorative and video arts. We hope there will be more entries and participants this year. Their works will be archived and in the near future they will have with link to international festivals, museums and fairs. This is a long process and it will take some time to become mainstream.
Kamrani: The very powerful video editing and effects tools available to everyone open many doors. The Internet is naturally an important player in today’s video art. Internet controlled video files can interact with other people and galleries. Our ultimate goal is to have some good sites where you can see contemporary video art in Iran.