Iranian artists Tabatabai and Afrassiabi present Seep at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi, Seep, 2012. Instal·lació. Fotograma Vídeo 2© Nasrin Tabatabai & Babak Afrassiabi. 

MACBA, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, presents Seep, the first solo exhibition in Spain by the Iranian artists Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi. Illustrating the Museum’s interest in contemporary art from North Africa and the Middle East, the show explores the introduction of modernity to Iran, from the British intervention and the industrialisation of oil extraction to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Presented for the first time, the installation includes two video projections and a series of objects and images inspired, for the most part, by archival materials kept at two institutions: the archives of British Petroleum (BP) and the western art collection of Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMOCA). Seep was produced by the MACBA Foundation in cooperation with the Delfina Foundation and the Chisenhale Gallery (where the work will be exhibited in spring 2013).

Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi, who work both in Iran and Holland, have been collaborating together since 2004. The result has been several joint projects and the publishing of the bilingual magazine Pages, in Farsi and English. Both their projects and the magazine's editorial approach are closely linked, and often focus on specific moments in the modernisation of Iran, which they materialize as into meditations on art and contemporary artistic practices. Their works have been seen in solo exhibitions in South America, the US, the Middle East and Europe, including, amongst others, the 6th Seoul International Media Art Biennale (2010) and the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2012). At present, Tabatabai and Afrassiabi are working as researchers at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Rotterdam.

The inspiration behind Seep are materials from two archives related to the modernisation of Iran. The first is the archive of British Petroleum (BP), related to the company’s origins in Iran between 1901 and 1951, from the discovery and operation of the first oil fields in the Middle East to the nationalisation of the oil industry. The second dates to a quarter of a century later: this is the western art collection of Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMOCA), which includes works from the late-19th century to 1979, when the museum was closed following the Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini.