Sunday, August 26, 2012


Surprising Tehran show of art inspired by the Stations of the Cross
Günther Uecker exhibition will focus on human rights abuses

By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 08 August 2012

In a surprise move, an exhibition focusing on human rights abuses is due to open at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art next month. The show, dedicated to the German sculptor and kinetic artist Günther Uecker, includes 14 works from the series "The Human Abused: 14 Pacified Implements", which was commissioned in 1992 by the Berlin-based Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA), a cultural organisation funded by the German government. The use of violence against foreigners based in Germany prompted Uecker to make the Arte Povera-esque works, incorporating materials such as nails, stones and ash.

"In these works, [Uecker] expresses his visions of life and life's suffering and tries to reveal, in his sensitive setting of signs, basic human drives: aggression, injury, destruction, setting against them gestures of reconciliation," says the institute's website, adding that the "injury of human being by human being" is the focus of the series. The works are based on the Stations of the Cross. These elements of Christian iconography may, however, raise eyebrows in the Iranian capital.

The exhibition (16 September-31 October) is also due to include 88 works provided by the artist who joined the Zero Group in 1961, an avant-garde Düsseldorf-based collective that declared art should be ultra minimalist, starting from "point zero". The show is funded by IFA, the German Embassy, the Goethe-Institut and the German publishing company Geuer & Breckner.

The Uecker exhibition is the latest in a series of shows devoted to German modern and contemporary artists to be held at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2008, for instance, the Iranian authorities held an exhibition of works by the late expressionist artists Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach at the museum.

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