Summer 2015Acceleration. Standstill. Stopping. Day in, day out, Prides, Paykans and other Iranian-made cars crawl along Tehran’s roughly 500 kilometres of highway. Cars represent the centrepiece of town-planning as a result the Iranian people value them very highly.
Unsurprisingly, then, the car is omnipresent throughout Iran. It oscillates between public and private space, is an unavoidable pacemaker and a private retreat, dating platform and centre of conflict, movement and standstill.
In the flow of engines, we pause together for a moment.
The vehicles, the people, and my eye.
My stay as artist-in-residence at the Kaaf Institute in Tehran has taught me an entirely new sense of time: on the one hand, there is the Iranians’ accelerated lifestyle; on the other, there is the involuntary deceleration caused by congested roads and highways. I set aside four weeks for Tehran and explored the city’s core as well as its periphery. First, I needed to get a sense of the place, to understand the city in order to finally become one with it. As a result, not a day went by when I wasn’t surprised by local conditions. I let myself be carried along by people who taught be about their country and culture, adapted their habits and moved confidently, including in remote areas, and I was always part of the energy-sapping traffic infrastructure, which ended up being the theme of my work “Ortsmarken Zeitkurven” (“Landmarks Time Curves”).
I was given the unique opportunity to base myself at the Kaaf Institute in the North of the city – a wonderful place to rest after my exciting expeditions of the city.
In conversations with the collective which makes up the Kaaf Institute, I was able to build a foundation for my discoveries and experiences. This in turn helped me gain a reflected understanding of the city and of Iranian culture. Many aspects would otherwise have remained hidden from me. “Why are there concrete blocks in front of shops? What function does this building serve? Where can I find more public places? Which festivity is taking place here?” I am very grateful for this knowledge, which was indispensable for my work.
With the friendly support of ifa Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen.
In cooperation with KAAF Institute, Tehran. For further info visit: www.ka-af.com