The Pejman Foundation is pleased to announce the first exhibition in Iran by Franco-Algerian artist Neïl Beloufa with the support of French Embassy.

Opening on February 3rd 2017, the exhibition will inaugurate Pejman Foundation’s future flagship premises in the Argo Building, a former factory in downtown Tehran. The presentation will feature a site-specific installation conceived by Neïl Beloufa for the semi-derelict space. It is a combination of new architectonic constructions that organically extend and thread through the industrial location, with stand-alone elements expanding on the artist’s recent work for the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. A number of videos will be on display, the newest of which was shot in November and December on location in Isfahan, Iran, and is therefore premiered on this occasion. Beloufa’s inaugural exhibition is a major milestone in the Pejman Foundation’s plan to become a crossroads for Iranian culture and the cultures of other countries around the world by bringing important contemporary artists from the international scene to Tehran.

The artist

Like many artists of his generation, Neïl Beloufa takes an interest in how the web, social media and emerging technologies have undermined and transformed the traditional value and hierarchy of images, our relations with them, or how we use them. While defining himself more as an “editor” than a sculptor or cineaste, he creates site-specific sculptural or architectonic environments that are themselves ambiguous. Beloufa plays on the edges of solid and void, high and low tech, hierarchies of form, function and materials to build an actual setting for his filmed video works as well as for live-stream closed-circuit images. His videos often subvert familiar cultural artifacts or audiovisual forms, such as different kinds of TV shows, questioning truth and falsehood, turning the codes upside-down while involving non-professional actors in a “low-tech teleplay aesthetic {…} The main raw material of his films, sculptures and installations is what actually exists and how it is interpreted,” explored “without moral judgment, cultural cynicism or any kind of irony.”

Born in France in 1985, Neïl Beloufa obtained a National Diploma in Visual Arts from the Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2007. He has also studied at Cooper Union, New York, and Ca‌LArts, Valencia. Recent solo exhibitions include the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, MOMA in New York, the Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin and ICA in London. His work has also been shown in important group exhibitions: the 2014 Taipei Biennial, the 55th Venice Biennale, the Biennale de Lyon in 2013 and the 2012 Paris Triennial.

The exhibition

In November and early December 2016, Neïl Beloufa and his team of collaborators occupied a Qajar-era palace in Isfahan (Iran) to produce a new video work, stemming from and deconstructing the codes of so-called “reality-TV” shows such as Big Brother or Secret Story. The video calls their bluff: if “reality-TV” was actually real, it might easily end in catastrophe. The movie will be premiered at the Pejman Foundation exhibition, along with several other video works such as Real Estate (2012) or Monopoly (2016). Neïl Beloufa specifically asked to construct his installation in the abandoned factory before restoration by the Foundation, to create a dialogue with the current dynamics of urban development, construction and renewal in the city of Tehran. Beloufa’s work will build on, mirror and extend the existing fabric, and link the different spaces together with pipe-work recalling the factory’s former drink-manufacturing activities. This new site specific setting will also include important new works shown recently, as part of its off-site Here and Now exhibition, by the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. The exhibition will be accompanied by a program of talks and presentations by guest speakers, including Neïl Beloufa himself.

The space

The Argo Building is a former factory dating back to the early 1920s. Despite its unique architectural features, tall chimneys and strategic position at the heart of downtown Tehran, the factory has been neglected for almost four decades. The Pejman Foundation has decided to revive and reconstruct the Argo to create a non-commercial exhibition space, library and cultural center. The reconstruction process started in September 2016 and is scheduled to go on for some time. However, at the request of first guest artist Neïl Beloufa, the inaugural exhibition will take place in the unrestored Argo Building.