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East-West Divan at the Venice Biennale

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

The Venice Biennale art fair is home to a number of national exhibitions as well as smaller shows, often representing people and places that wouldn't normally get a look in. Former Tate curator Jemima Montagu presents an exhibition of work by artists from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. She talks about the thriving visual culture of the region and misconceptions surrounding it.
Created by Tate.

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  • sneak peak green style avatar for user Ryan Nee
    Are these artists popular, known, or acclaimed within Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran? While none of the work shown in this video seemed particularly subversive, I wonder how much appetite there is for contemporary art within these largely conservative and traditional countries. Or even amongst these countries themselves: I imagine a more modern country like Pakistan might have more acceptance of contemporary art compared to Afghanistan, for example.
    (4 votes)
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Video transcript

my name is Jemima Montague I'm the curator of east-west divan contemporary art from Afghanistan Pakistan and Iran which is here at this is Venice Biennale this is about trying to present a different image of Afghanistan Pakistan and Iran it's trying to challenge some of the stereotypes that persist and in Europe particularly and in the West generally I've been working in Afghanistan for last two and a half years for a charity called turquoise mountain where we're trying to support arts crafts and architectural heritage in Afghanistan and it was out of that work that I developed the idea to do an exhibition of contemporary art from the region I think Arsene the region is much more exciting love that painting in London right now and I think that what's happening on a political level has also sparked interest in what's happening on a cultural level and has never been enough representation of artists from outside the West that festivals like Venice the selection of artists we have 10 artists here from Afghanistan Iran and Pakistan and I really selected these artists on the basis of their either their connection or their training in traditional arts and crafts of the region in mind Qureshi for example trained as a miniature painter and is one of the leading figures from Pakistan who are reinterpreting the miniature painting tradition in this exhibition we've got a group of works that many people would describe as classical miniature paintings except that they depict contemporary figures doing ordinary things in fact the series is called moderate enlightenment and it's a sequence of images of religious figures in Pakistan all doing ordinary stuff changing walking on an umbrella in the rain carrying shopping bags and he's really trying to challenge the way that people in the Middle East and in parts of Central and South Asia simply by being Muslims are figures of fear and suspicion in the West simply for wearing beard or for looking and conforming to an idea or a stereotype of terror the the entrance is rather spectacular because we've got these three incredible chandeliers by Scherzer dude one in pink one in blue one in white each one has arabic text in neon circling as creating the chandelier and the words are there is no god but God which is the first phase of the Shah header which is the Muslim Creed essentially before an age range that goes from 24 to 80 for a young Afghan photographer who's 24 years old and still very much in the early stages of her career just beginning to show internationally had never heard of the Venice Biennale then we've got an 84 year old iranian artist monea farm and farm iron who's actually shown in venice in the 50s and won a prize here in 1958 so that was an incredible thing that she's now sharing here again her works are interesting because she's going through this incredible renaissance at the moment and in fact although she's using quite traditional forms of mirror mosaic they're inspired by her exposure to abstract expressionism in New York in the 1950s and she's now continuing to make these new abstract sculptures today if you're making a statement about countries that are not properly represented in these sort of fora then it's obviously playing off though the way that nations are always in competition in a place like Venice although it's easy to be critical of this kind of national sort of ball match competition at the same time it does present an opportunity to quite clearly present three countries that at the moment I believe are vilified in in the West and and should have more and better representation and respect within contemporary art or international art circles you