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Art, Social Space, and Public Discourse Initiative

street art mural by Iranian artist GhalamDAR

Street mural in Oakland, California by artist GhalamDAR & Mike "BAM" Tyau

Art, Social Space, and Public Discourse was a recent initiative on Iranian art that investigated the multiple contexts that shift and define changing ideas of Iranian public space.

Led by artist and Stanford lecturer, Ala Ebtekar, this critical framework of conversations, newly issued art projects, and exploration of various cultural productions and intellectual traditions looked at recent transformations of Iranian civic life and asked what may constitute the architecture, images, and people that shape multiple notions of a “public” Iran. This initiative was supported by various Stanford departments and programs.

Horizon to Horizon

Artist and lecturer Ala Ebtekar curated an art project, titled “Horizon to Horizon,” between East Palo Alto high school students and students in Khorramabad, Iran. A series of workshops by artist Minoosh Zomorodinia and instructor Tara Goodarzy put students in contact with each other (via Skype and Telegram) as they produced works in parallel with one another. 

Students in Iran hold up finished artwork

Studying Space and Public Discourse in Iran

Ala Ebtekar co-taught a new class with Jerome Reyes, “Revolutionary Practices: Space and Public Discourse in Iran.” The course examined the mediums of public art that have been voices of social change, protest and expressions of community desire in Iran. It offered a unique glimpse into Iran’s contemporary art and visual culture through the investigation of public art practices such as graffiti and street art, as well as older traditions of Naghali and Iranian Coffeehouse Painting.

Image: Students do a walkthrough of Iranian posters from the Hoover Archives led by visiting guest Nasser Rahmaninejad (far right).



students view historical posters in Hoover Archives

First Symposium: Art, Social Space and Public Discourse in Iran

This first series in this initiative, Art, Social Space and Public Discourse in Iran was envisioned and directed by artist Ala EbtekarThe three-day symposium in November 2016 included talks, panels, newly issued art projects, and lecture performances. The opening ceremony took place at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco on November 3rd with a live-stream from Tomorrow, a traditional coffeehouse in Tehran, Iran. The symposium site shifted to Stanford University on November 4th and 5th continuing the momentum with a series of talks, panels, and additional performances. Simultaneously during the main symposia,  auxiliary events and commissioned public artworks took place across the Stanford campus and the Bay Area. 

Image: shared art space at Stanford used for the first symposium in 2016. Professor Ebtekar pictured with student. 

Ala Ebtekar and student in art space at Stanford
Stanford News: Stanford Initiative Examines Public Art in Iran