Iran’s presence at the 58th Venice Biennale is different from previous years. One had to be the way Iranian artists are selected to showcase their artworks in the Italian art event. Another has to be the political and cultural environment in the world as well as the fact that there are now no sociopolitical and cultural borders due to technology and more. Then there is this art that speaks to a contemporary world that knows no borders - the very identity of our contemporary history.

The absence of national identity has to be the main feature of this year’s event. It would be hard to find it anywhere when you walk through the country pavilions. It seems as if the world has moved away from national identities and toward a universal identity.

Iran’s exhibition Of Being and Singing at the Biennale is all about respect and acknowledgement for national identity and life, amalgamated with artists' lives and memories. The Iranian pavilion represents a nation under sanctions, yet standing tall, remaining Iranian, as has been and still is forever and ever.

The contemporary artists representing Iran at the Biennale understand their contemporary world, speak of the contemporary world, and display the contemporary world through their arts and beings. They force their audiences to think and anticipate; and acknowledge. To acknowledge a nation that despite sanctions is still there standing; to represent its art and culture, all while “being and singing”.

Ehsan Aghaei

Head, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art