Publication No.4, 2022

/// “Return”
[A research-based project for the issue of documentation of “contemporary art” projects], Interview with 26 Iranian contemporary artists

Curator: Foad Alijani
Publication information: Tehran, Paadmaan projects, 2022
Number of pages: 372
Cover design: Amir Moqtada
Layout and printing: Royangaran Studio
1nd edition: Winter 2022, Tehran


In contemporary art, we often come across time-based and site-specific projects that are temporal, and often their raw materials also have these temporal qualities. The challenge here is how the artist can maintain their project after the presentation of the work? Should projects that belong to a particular time and space and are temporal at their core have to be documented? Here we enter the conservation and preservation territory; A territory which generally when it comes to documentation and presentation, often takes the shape of “representation”.

I started the Return project exploring these questions as part of Paadmaan projects in 2016. The nature of “contemporary art”, leads artists with a similar approach to diverse and complex experiences. These complexities of contemporary art create a challenging relationship to documentation itself. Therefore, instead of taking research forms that would lead to static results, I decided to explore the concept of documenting “contemporary art” through the framework of a conversation with some Iranian artists analyzing their methodologies and approaches towards the issue of documentation.

Documentations of a project, when archived, can be used for a variety of purposes such as introducing it to the audience that was not present during the presentation, research and so on. Research-based and archival exhibitions are one of the most important instances of returning to these documents. For this reason, the book Return is accompanied by an exhibition to bring the concepts discussed in these conversations into praxis. One topic is the role of these documentation documents in a new context within an exhibition. Visiting the artists websites and other digital media that artists use for presenting data about their projects is an easy and accessible way of learning about their work. Therefore, in the Return exhibition as a curatorial project, more than focusing on introducing the projects, with attention to the existence of each project in a displacement situation, the emotional experience of what they have been through is also considered.

Foad Alijani

Photo: Niloufar Aghdam