Factory TT Tehran/Berlin,
Contextualising Contemporary Art

We believe that art neither requires nor possesses a passport or visa, that there should be no denial or granting of access to determine success. The circulation of art is at an unprecedented level, yet gaps, white spaces, remain when it comes to the global presentation and reception of non-Western art. We want to challenge these "blind spots" and work toward a change in perspective. The concept of transculturality is our guideline: it sketches a different picture of the relation between cultures, no one of isolation or conflict, but one of entanglement, intermingling and commonality.
Factory TT Berlin/Tehran was initiated 2016 by Shahram Entekhabi and Asieh Salimian as an art education platform. After a series of actions, performances and workshops in various locations in Iran, Factory TT Tehran/Berlin 2017 realized the large exhibition project Copy/Paste with 13 international artists in Tehran and Isfahan in 2017. In the same year factory, TT Berlin/Tehran accomplished the first art festival Tabdil/Tolid (Farsi for „to convert“, „to generate“) in the public space of the city of Ardabil in Northwestern Iran. The project focuses on the aspects of ecology and sustainability and what has been achieved with the participation of local artists and the public in cooperation with the National Environmental Authority.

Shahram Entekhabi Iranian-born artist /Curator and architect, currently living and working across Berlin and Tehran
Asieh Salimian

Shahram Entekhabi
Iranian-born artist /Curator and architect, currently living and working across Berlin and Tehran

I’ve been traveling to Iran regularly for more than 10 years. During this time I had many exhibitions there and I have established close valuable contacts with the art scene, artists, galleries, institutes and other participations. The flourishing art scene in Iran has motivated me to get involved there. I have come into contact with many young artists. I have collaborated with many artists and we exchanged views in many workshops and lectures. On the other hand, I encountered a narrowness in the outmaneuver possibilities of the art establishment, caused by the lack of an institutional system, no adequate educational opportunities and no international encounter. While the few galleries were in backyards and underground, today they are ubiquitous. The handling of art has been transformed into a system of economic speculation, Art forgery and the ignoring discursive questions, or contextual systems. The result is a single market, a local art bubble, that has nothing to do with the value system of an international art community.Real problems in one of the most stressful cities in the world, Issues such as child and women's rights, youth unemployment, environmental degradation, massive drug abuse, prostitution, rising diseases and skyrocketing cancer rates… Thus, every form of social relatedness of Art has been abandoned in the course of a year-long embargo and domestic destabilization. Iranian contemporary art seeks a cultural identity rooted in past dynasties and historical processes prior to the Islamic Revolution. The present and the future, topics such as the reappraisal of the Iraq-Iran war or the social reality of an Islamic republic are not part of this search for identity. In contrast, the image of Iranian art in the West is dominated by the usual suspects who are in a limited gallery system without contextualization on the ground. Because of these observations, it would be less important for me to show my art in Iran. rather, I have set myself the task of becoming an intermediary in Iranian art. Initially, it was small steps, a series of talks with Iranian artists that I realized in Berlin, or workshops and art actions I did with local artists in Tehran and Isfahan.

Asieh Salimian
Iranian artist /curator, currently living and working across Berlin and Tehran

With regard to the situation, art practice, artist and exhibition and gallery and public presentation in Iran, only a handful of galleries and institutes are available to show contemporary works.

The current situation in Iran shows similar tendencies in terms of history development, social and political engagement, ecological awareness, civil rights, etc. that have led to a change in contemporary art over the last fifty years. The confrontation with current topics is taken up by the Iranian art scene, mutated and practiced with minimal change as contemporary Iranian art. These practices are incorporated by universities and galleries and there is no independent art arena. Art schools and art galleries are in line with market-oriented commercial production. The art education and the universities are run by practicing artists in an established market where their students present their theses and immediately exhibit them in a stagnant and familiar environment. This is very close to the education that existed in the classical art academies. Its functions are based on history, tradition and crafts, which contribute to the established parameters. There is no room to experiment or deal with difficult issues where the primary ambition is to sell.

I am an artist who moved to the Iranian capital to study there. I've worked for many exhibitions in Tehran, but the atmosphere of the art scene did not convince me. The artists' work was based solely on relationships, not expertise, ability or concept. Art as a process, from idea to museum and artist as moderator of intercultural dialogues, commentator, catalyst of provocation and not integrated into a hierarchical infrastructure of art production. I was very disappointed to see these issues until we decided to launch the “TT Factory” with Shahram Entekhabi.

Factory TT Berlin/Tehran


NOTE: Factory TT is neither supported by any government, nor any political interest, ideology or religion.