The group exhibition Only the morning bird treasures the flower garden, which takes its title from a poem by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz, includes photographs, videos, and other works by more than twenty Iranian artists on the theme of flowers. Co-curated by artist Mehraneh Atashi and Sohrab Mohebbi, the exhibition was originally conceived by Atashi while working in Tehran in 2009, after she was instructed to photograph flowers, rather than take self-portraits that address social matters. In response, Atashi invited fellow artists, writers and other colleagues to contribute to an exhibition and publication exploring the historical, literary and symbolic connotations of flowers in Iran. The exhibition and publication were postponed indefinitely a few days before the 2011 opening in Tehran, after the project was referenced in an article in the international press. Now a version of the exhibition, featuring most of the original artists, comes to REDCAT, via a long detour across multiple borders and years.
Nearly a decade after it was conceived, this project is now in a different and distant context, location and historical moment, which also changes its implication. The exhibition could be considered a document of an unrealized project. These days, we are used to taking for granted that dislocation and distantiation are part and parcel of the so-called international art world, but while the exhibition is uprooted and planted elsewhere, it embraces the shortcomings of its geopolitical displacement. The conditions that created the exhibition remain specific to a place and time, but the conditions of the hosting location are also disruptive, alienating and charged. Considering the geopolitics of the origin and destination, the flowers, one might say, are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Sohrab Mohebbi, Co-Curator
Artists include: Mehrdad Afsari, Nazgol Ansarinia, Mahmoud Bakhshi, Nima Esmailpour, Azin Feizabadi, Shahab Fotouhi, Farhad Fozouni, Amirali Ghasemi, Mohammad Ghazali, Barbad Golshiri, Elika Hedayat, Bahman Jalali, Rana Javadi, Simin Keramati, Bahman Kiarostami, Houman Mortazavi, Mehrdad Nadjmabadi, Shahpour Pouyan, Arefeh Riahi, Zarvan Rouhbakhshan, Behnam Sadighi, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Baktash Sarang Javanbakht, and Jinoos Taghizadeh.
Only the morning bird treasures the flower garden is curated by Mehraneh Atashi and Sohrab Mohebbi with Carmen Amengual, curatorial assistant.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication edited by Mehraneh Atashi.
Only the morning bird treasures the flower garden is made possible by generous support from Farhang Foundation.
Additional support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the REDCAT Circle.