Never been to Tehran

Variable sizes

A series of digital images

The series is part of the exhibition, Never Been to Tehran, organized by artist Jon Rubin and curator Andrea Grover. Never Been to Tehran is a worldwide exhibition with 29 international participants who are contributing photographs of what they imagine the city of Tehran to look like, to a universal photo-sharing website. The photographs are streamed to each exhibition venue as a continuously evolving slideshow, with more photographs being uploaded daily throughout the exhibition. The participants are using a variety of research methods to imagine the culture, landscape, and people of Tehran, using only their primary city of residence as the location of their photographs. The website is the vehicle for streaming images to participating venues.

Excerpts from the exhibition statement:

Imagine a city that you've only seen in reproductions or perhaps have merely heard about. A place, like many others, that only exists for you through indirect sources--the nightly news, hearsay, literature, magazines, movies, and the Internet. Using these secondhand clues as firsthand research materials, invited worldwide participants--who have Never Been to Tehran--will take photographs (from their home base) of what they imagine Tehran to look like. Contributors will upload their photos daily to an on-line photo-sharing site, which will be projected as a slideshow simultaneously in galleries and public spaces around the world (including Tehran). Anything that anyone might take a photograph of is fair game, just as long as it feels like Tehran.

For the international contributors to this exhibition, the task is to search through their daily lives for clues to a foreign place, for the possibility that somewhere else exists right under their noses and that, like some clunky form of astral projection, one can travel to other lands without leaving home. New information technologies are expanding the possibility of knowing a place to which you've never traveled. Hosts of amateur and commercial websites and podcasts about a given city, its economy, demographics, culture and subculture have opened the way for a new vernacular of representation. As Tehran's image is regularly depicted in the dominant media, it is a compelling challenge for the participants in this exhibition to sift through the glut of images and information to cull out a personally constructed version of an unfamiliar place. For viewers in Tehran, the exhibition presents a chance to witness an unusual mirroring of their globally projected image, taken from the daily lives and environs of outsiders. Collectively, the artists and viewers of Never Been to Tehran will be charting a liminal space stuck somewhere between here and there that in our contemporary existence just might be home.

Exhibition Venues: Parkingallery, Tehran, Iran; Caravansarai, Istanbul, Turkey; San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, USA; Media and Interdisciplinary Arts Center, Auckland, New Zealand; Koh-i-noor, Copenhagen, Denmark; Mess Hall, Chicago, USA; Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (Downtown Electronic Jumbotron), Pittsburgh, USA; and live on the web at

Participants: Dean Baldwin, Canada; Aideen Barry, Ireland; Cedric Bomford, Canada; Otto Von Busch, Sweden and Turkey; James Charlton, New Zealand; Sara Graham, Canada; Andrea Grover, USA; Deniz Gul, Turkey; Levin Haegele, England; Jun'ichiro Ishii, France; Martin Krusche, Austria; Rosie Lynch, Germany; Francesco Nonino, Italy; Elena Perlino, Italy; Heidi Hove, Denmark; Sal Randolph, USA; Alia Rayya, Israel/Palestinian Territories; Jon Rubin, USA; Jakob Seibel, Germany; Iyallola Tillieu, Belgium; Keiko Tsuji, Japan; Lee Walton, USA; Lindsey White, USA; Christian Sievers, Germany; Zoe Strauss, USA; Rumana Husain, Parkistan; and more..