Exhibition at Emkan Gallery: March 6 – 31, 2022
Open on odd days and Fridays, except for March 15 and 20, 2022, 4-8 pm
Address: No. 51, Ghafari st., Fajr st., Motahari st., Tehran-Iran
In an article from December 3, 2021, Clément Chéroux, Chief Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, posed the question: “Has the photobook become more interesting than photographs themselves?” This is remarkable. It shows the extent to which attention has shifted towards photography books in recent years.
Some years ago, I spent quite some time working in the photobook library of friends, Leo Fritz (1908–2005) and Renate Gruber (*1936) in the German city of Cologne. In his functions for Koelnmesse, photokina, the German Photographic Association, and as an exhibition-maker, Fritz Gruber was a central figure in shaping the perception of twentieth-century photography both in Germany and internationally well into the late 1980s. It would have been nearly impossible to find a museum director or curator – at the time there were hardly any of them specialized in photography! – who could match Fritz and Renate Gruber’s global network. The Gruber library reflects the history of the medium: thousands of photobooks from Europe, the United States, and Japan but also from the USSR, China, India, Israel, Southeast Asia, South and Central America, and Turkey. But not a single book about or from Iran. This conspicuous detail seems to be confirmed when we open the volumes of The Photobook: A History by Gerry Badger and Martin Parr published by Phaidon in 2004 and 2006: Iran doesn’t make a single appearance in them. The same is true for the still unsurpassed standard works by Hans-Michael Koetzle: Das Lexikon der Fotografen. 1900 bis heute, Knaur, 2002, Photographers A–Z, Taschen, 2011, and Eyes Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography, Kehrer, 2014. Let’s take another work, one generation prior: Helmut Gernsheim’s The Origins of Photography, Thames and Hudson, 1982. Negative on all counts, not even the slightest mention of the word “Iran”. Was there no photography in Iran? Or did book printing not exist on this part of the planet? As we know, the case is quite the opposite! What we see is an example of the Western tradition of blanking out.
With our network, mohit.art, we work towards a better understanding and practical cooperation. We selected “photobooks” as one of the key issues to follow through different formats over a longer time frame.
In cooperation with Deutscher Fotobuchpreis, Stuttart (German Photobook Award), Emkan Gallery, Tehran, and Hasht Cheshmeh Art Space, Kashan, mohit.art presents an exhibition of German and European photobooks. It was on view at Hasht Chechmeh Art Space in Kashan from December 17, 2021 until January 16, 2022, and continues now from March 6 until 31, 2022 at Emkan Gallery in Tehran. mohit.art will present parts of the exhibition online in conjunction with online lectures, texts, panel discussions and statements from the book authors. In 2022 and 2023, mohit.art will expand its exploration of photobooks and their role in Iran and neighboring countries in relation to European and Western practices.
We are honored by the invitation of Hasht Cheshmeh Art Space and Emkan Gallery to present photobooks from Germany and Europe in Iran, and very thankful to Hans-Michael Koetzle, the most distinguished author and expert in the field, who speaks to you on the subject.
Bernd Fechner, December 17, 2021
Although one may say that the photobook as an important medium for presenting artistic photo collections has not yet received its due recognition in Iran’s history of modern art, in recent years, some photographers and art institutes have increasingly tried to introduce photobooks in Iran and emphasize their possibilities and advantages. “Photobook One: A Selection of Photobooks from Deutscher Fotobuchpreis 2021/22”, with the help and contribution of others experienced in the field of photobooks, hopes to offer the context for young artists and other interested groups to discover photobooks as an artistic medium, and to open up new opportunities for the production of similar works in Iran.
As a first step, a selection from the awarded books of Deutscher Fotobuchpreis 2021/22, Stuttgart (German Photobook Award 2021/22) will be presented in different parts of Iran through a series of events. The books were selected with regard to not only their artistic quality, but also their formal and thematic variety in idea, design, and print. The present collection has been gathered with the contribution and support of mohit.art and was exhibited for the first time at Hasht Cheshmeh Art Space, Kashan (December 17, 2021-January 16, 2022).
Emkan, March 6, 2022