Setareh Shahbazi studied Scenography, Visual Art and Media Theory at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design and spent the following years living and working between Beirut, Tehran, Cairo and Berlin, where she is currently based.
Her work has been shown in solo shows at Tarahane Azad, Tehran; Gypsum Gallery, Cairo; 98weeks Project Space, Beirut; Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara; Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg; Montgomery, Berlin and at Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe.
Her groupshows include Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Wei Ling Contemporary, Kuala Lumpur; Depo, Istanbul; 17 Essex, NY; Nottingham Comtemporary, UK; Sharjah Biennial 13; UAE; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Kunsthaus Wien; Beirut Art Center, Lebanon; Program, Berlin; Kunstverein Frankfurt; Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut; HKW, Berlin; Fondation Cartier, Paris and Rooseum, Malmö.
Step Out of the Strange Light, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin
She Who Is Watching, Wei-Ling Contemporary, Kuala Lumpur
Up Above Was Fog, Down Below Was A Cloud of Dust, Depo, Istanbul
A Rain of Light & Death, 17 Essex, New York
The Truth About Fiction, Gypsum Gallery, Cairo
From Ear to Ear to Eye, Nottingham Contemporary
ANTEDOOM II, Tarahane Azad, Tehran (solo)
Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj, Sharjah
Binary Is A False Idol, Gypsum Gallery, Cairo (solo)
Complicity, Sultan Gallery, Kuwait
Wie Wir Leben, Kunsthaus Wien
Before History, Abraaj Group Art Prize, Dubai, UAE
Spectral Days, Gypsum Gallery, Cairo (solo)
When It Stops Dripping From The Ceiling, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris
I am Glad that Things Have Changed, 98weeks Project Space, Beirut
Why Not Bazar, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara (solo)
Whenever It Starts, It Is The Right Time. Strategies for A Discontinuous Future, Frankfurter Kunstverein
Oh, no, no... – The Crystal Series, Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg (solo)
Rainbow, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut
J’en Rêve, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris
Oh, no, no... – The Crystal Series, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (solo)
“I am glad that things have changed. All efforts toward ridding oneself of the historical past and acquiring new family members have been rewarded. This new sequencing of verb tenses was the material expression of her private epiphanies. Now, photographs were just photographs: pieces of paper that could be pleated, replaced and slipped into a pocket.”
Setareh Shahbazi was born in Tehran in 1978. She moved to Germany in 1985, leaving behind a swimming pool, a garden and all family photographs. After studying Scenography and Media Art at the State University for Art and Design in Karlsruhe, she traveled to Beirut in 2003 with a scholarship from the DAAD to look through other peoples photographic archives at the Arab Image Foundation.
In 2009 Setareh Shahbazi moved to Beirut with a box of photographs from Tehran. There she got into a close conversation with her neighbor Mirene Arsanios, who is a writer based in Beirut.
Text: Mirene Arsanios
Design: Aude Lehmann
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Setareh Shahbazi’s visual worlds confront the viewer with a peculiar ambivalence: one gazes upon motifs and scenes which appear both intimate and superficial, enraptured and decorative, profound and oversimplified, which seem to make deliberate use of the aesthetic technique of comic books and advertising graphics. One’s gaze longs to affix itself to these images – the opaque, pastel-colored surfaces beckon seductively – and to climb into these pictures, for the perspective engendered by their drawing suggests temporal-spatial depths.
Precisely upon this threshold to the image there is no way either in or out, but at most a boomerang of self-inquiry: what do I seek in an image, what promises does an image make to me, what refusals does it lay upon me? How do I attribute meaning to that which my gaze takes hold of? What does the image show (me)?
Angelika Stepken, for the artist book Oh, no, no... – The Crystal Series, published by Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, 2004
Text: Angelika Stepken and Simon Baier
Design: Aude Lehmann
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