Shahram Entekhabi

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identity, interculturalism, multi-culturalism, popular culture, religion, war
Visual Arts (installation art, photography, video art)
Middle East, Europe, Western
Iran (Islamic Republic of), Germany
created on:
February 11, 2004
last changed on:
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Shahram Entekhabi
Shahram Entekhabi. Courtesy of the artist


Statement of the artist for the «Postcard Project» of the House of WorldCultures ´At the moment I am interested in an urban setting and inspired by Charles Baudelaire´s writings on the 19th century concept of the ‘Flaneur’. I refuse the idea that urban space is reserved for the practice and performance of the white, middle class, hetero-sexual male. I explore these ideas via a variety of performative practices using digital media, architecture and drawings. In particular, I choose to highlight those individuals who would ordinarily be marginalized, made invisible or forced into self-ghettoization from the urban domain such as migrant communities and their culture, particularly the communities from the Middle East and their Diaspora. Here it is also important to me to see how the small communities of migrants - in particular families - manage to survive in the rapidly changing environment due to Islamophobia and new racisms in the Western societies.´ Shahram Entekhabi, 2007 The artist Shahram Entekhabi was born in 1963 in Beroujerd, Iran. After his training as a graphic designer in Teheran between 1976-79, he studied architecture in Reggio Calabria, Italy, in 1979-82, and then from 1983 – 2000 worked as a freelance architect in Berlin. From 2001 on, he has primarily concentrated on his work as a media artist, producing video art, photography and installations. Shahram Enthekabi lives and works in Berlin.
Within the exhibition "Far Near Distance. New Positions in Iranian Art" Shahram Entekhabi, who is also involved as the exhibition architect and designer, is showing the installation "Kilid" (2003).

Mieke Bal, renowned cultural theorist and expert on representation wrote about "Kilid": "Light, colour, hyperbolic scale: a monumental installation in the shape of a key with light-letters and objects inside it. I recall as many awful kitschy Christmas decorations in the front gardens of wealthy American homes in exclusive neighbourhoods. There, too, the American flag blatantly appears alongside Father Christmas. Light is a tool for perception, but it can also be used to deceive the eye. Colours are joyful aspects of everyday life, but they can also be used as symbols, and invoke a partisanship the consequences of which are often ill understood.

There is no direct causal relationship between such rallying lights and young people’s willingness to fight, kill and die for what those bright colours stand for that they loved as children. But Bush’s youngsters respond to that appeal, as do Allah’s adolescent fans. The keys lying around this gallery floor key us in on what happens between those two moments in life. The indirect link is seduction.

Many cultures have martyrs who have been seduced into willingness to die in the name of some grandiose power that shines brightly and beautifully with promises of belonging. To call this sordid waste of human life martyrdom points to something that is not exclusively a Muslim tool of seduction: the conjunction of religion and nation, the former misused as a promise that the latter cannot deliver. Paradise is one word for the fiction on the other side of the key, freedom another."

Another important work of Entekhabi is the video "Happy Meal", which shows a little girl covered with a chador (veil) inside a McDonalds restaurant; with rapture she is eating a menu that was created especially for children, labeled "Happy Meal“. Upbeat trendy Islamic songs in praise of Allah that are sung by children form the background sound for the video. Not only does the work confront two opposing conceptions of childhood with one another; the Western consume oriented pragmatism versus the "Eastern, with its focus on spiritual well-being in the beyond, but it also points to a new dimension, a "third culture". The girl suggests the symbiotic relationship between two cultures that allows for a new culture to germinate.

The current video production touches upon a related thematic complex: “i?” consists of ten episodes describing a day in the life of the protagonist O, played by Shahram Entekhabi. The video is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s film Film, starring Buster Keaton, a work already evoked by Gilles Deleuze in reference to his subdividing the moving image into images of action, images of perception, and images of affect. Like in Film, its predecessor, “i?” deals with the complex of seeing and being seen, observing and perceiving, and reflects on the famous dictum of the Irish bishop Berkeley: “Esse est percipi” ("To be is to be perceived"). In Entekhabi’s interpretation of the theme, however, the complex is expanded around the self and foreign perception through both a migratory perspective and the question of identity between two cultures. Therefore, in the film, the perspectives of the protagonist and camera continually alternate; and apart from the final scene, O’s face (and later the appearance of his “twin”) is never shown. The film begins and ends in a closed cycle within the protagonist’s apartment, with the action revolving at all times around O’s reflection.

In his series "Islamic Vogue", which he started in 2001, Entekhabi ´veils´ women portrayed in the German edition of the journal Vogue with chador and niqab. By "islamising" the Western fashion world, he criticises censorship in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The veiled women look much the same, only the headlines vary. Apart from that, "Islamic Vogue" reflects the inclination of "enlightened" Muslim women to wear Western fashion under their chador – a rebellion against uniformity within uniformity.
Author: House of World Cultures


born in Beroujerd/Iran

1976 - 1979
studied graphic-design at the University of Teheran, Iran
studied architecture and Italian language in Perugia and Reggio Calabria, Italy

Since 1983
lives and works in Berlin

1983 - 2000
work as independent architect: Architecture projects and competitions

since 2001
active in the fields of video art, photography, drawings, installation, and community art


Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2006 “voiler – dévoiler”, Villa du Parc/centre d’art contemporain, Annemasse, France “berlintendenzen”, La Capella, Barcelona, Spain “This Land Is My Land“, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany “Labyrith X - zu Rassismus und Ausgrenzung", Lichtspieltheater Wundervoll, Rostock, Germany 2005 “Verpaßte Gelegenheit", Brandenburgischer Kunstverein, Potsdam, Germany “In the Shadow of Fallen Heroes”, ArtEasT, Bishkek, Kirgisistan “Bologna Flash Art Show”, Sofitel hotel, Bologna, Italy “Labyrinth X - zu Rassismus und Ausgrenzung”, Stadthalle Ludwigslust, Ludwigslust, Germany 2004 “Far Near Distance”, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany “Not in the Sky and not on the Earth”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje, Macedonia “Schizorama”, National Center for Contemporary Art/NCCA, Moscow, Russia “Eye Contact“, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland “La Sage-femme y Spiral Woman”, Sala Municipal de Exposiciones del Museo de Pasió, Valadolid, Spain “just pLAy”, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, USA 2003 Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany “The 2nd International Kansk Video Festival”, International Kansk Video Festival, Kansk, Russia “Fair Play. Video contest”, PLAY_gallery for still and motion pictures, Berlin, Germany “models + frames 8: Überlebensstrategien für Untrainierte - The Winners Takes It All...”, Kunst- und Medienzentrum Adlershof / KMZA, Berlin, Germany 2002 “The 1st International Kansk Video Festival”, International Kansk Video Festival, Kansk, Russia “Evolutionäre Zellen”, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildene Kunst, Berlin, Germany “Bush Videonight“, Open Space, Berlin, Germany

Video Screenings (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2006 “i?", Lichtspieltheater Wundervoll, Rostock, Germany “The Salath", Lichtspieltheater Wundervoll, Rostock, Germany “Islamic Star", Lichtspieltheater Wundervoll, Rostock, Germany “Herr Karl aus Nemsa", Lichtspieltheater Wundervoll, Rostock, Germany 2005 “Panorámica", Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico “Lido", Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany “irgendwoanders. Screening", 7.Ausstellung bei cultura, Hildesheim, Germany “What? me? a racist?”, Galerie Pankow, Berlin, Germany “e-flux video rental”, KUNST-WERKE BERLIN e.V, Berlin, Germany “GLUB and the Aesthetics of Everyday Life”, Franklin Center for the Humanities, Durham, USA “Circa Berlin”, Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen, Denmark “Elektronenstroeme. Real fictions und inszenierte Realitaeten im Video”, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany “Iranian Artist Returns with Shahram Entekhabi”, The Iranian Cultural Association of Greater Columbus, Columbus, USA “Visiting Artis”, The Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, USA “Humanities Week, Visiting Artist Shahram Entekhabi”, Baker-Nord Center For the Humanities, Cleveland, USA “I LOVE ART VIDÉO - 6ème édition”, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Strasbourg, France 2004 “Las formas de la Nada: Imágenes de la ausencia en el mundo contemporáneo”, CENDEAC, Murcia, Spain “The Aesthetics of Everyday Life”, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA “The Aesthetics of Everyday Life”, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada “Food, Form and Visibility: The Aesthetics of Everyday Life”, Temple Universität, Rome, Italy 2003 “Different views in and out of Berlin”, Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, Berlin, Germany “Einige Bemerkungen über den Nutzen wissenschaftlicher und methodologischer Filme”, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany 2002 “Pop-Sound-Video”, Städtisches Museum Zwickau, Zwickau, Germany “Stardust Deluxe. Kunstaktionen zur Popkultur”, Lisa Lounge / Villa Elisabeth, Berlin, Germany

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2006 "shahramm ´It´s been a long way, baby´", Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland 2005 “KILID", Kunstfabrik am Flutgraben e.V., Berlin, Germany “GLUB”, Hopkins Hall Gallery, OSU College of the Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA “GLUB”, University Theatre of the University, Amsterdam, Netherlands “GLUB”, Mershon Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA 2004 “GLUB”, Case Art Studio Gallery, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Postcard Project

(01 March 07 - 31 December 08)

Far Near Distance

Contemporary Positions of Iranian Artists

(19 March 04 - 09 May 04)

Real Fictions in the Project Far Near Distance

A curated chapter in

(19 March 04 - 09 May 04)


Gallery Anita Beckers

Sharam Entekhabi´s website

"Happy Meal"
"Herr Karl aus Nemsa"