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.

Represented by Gypsum Gallery, Cairo
Portfolio and CV on request

Exhibitions (selected)


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)

Artist Books
Spectral Days

“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
44 pages

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Oh, no, no... – The Crystal Series

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
48 pages

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