Performance Box Curatorship is in its own way an attempt at pluralizing the idea of curatorship and expanding gallery walls. Even in cyberspace where exhibition space is unlimited, there should be someone to decide what to be seen and set the priority. In ‘Performance Box’, we tried to allow the viewers to choose their curator: no viewer sees all artworks, rather chooses the person who will choose for him. Every one of the fifty artists participating in this exhibition has decided upon the curatorship of their work choosing the artworks that will be shown before and after their artwork and the duration of their exhibition. If most artists find an artwork weak and unworthy of exhibition, they will not include it in their curatorship thus reducing its visibility without excluding it altogether. However, the exhibition remains different from festivals where anything is exhibited.

In this exhibition we also tried to test how artworks work on viewers when they are in a one-to-one relationship with the audience. Here the influence of viewer comments is removed to a great extent: every viewer experiences the exhibition individually and in a different manner and cannot discuss it with others. None of the ninety viewers can see all the artworks. Every viewer has a share of 15-minutes in the exhibition which is exclusively hers. Since the audience is an inseparable part of such a performance, we have included the name of viewers in the catalogue.

As for the theme, we tried to provide artists with something to chew on. Instead of choosing a ‘subject’, we agreed upon a short-short story by Peter Handke and the artists were free to use it in any way they liked: the title, different elements or the general atmosphere could have been equally used. We did not intend to make it difficult for the artists but the story proved more difficult than we expected.

If you have not seen the exhibition and you are reading this, I can be of little help in explaining the quality of the exhibition or its success or failure. Thus I should stop. This is what we like about performance: you have to be there and see for yourself. If you have been there, then you have been an eyewitness and we are grateful for your cooperation. If you have not, what a pity. Maybe next time.

Informative Iranian Website on Cardboard Industry

Cardboard Festival

Cardboard Boats


Diseno Cartonero

International Festival of Performance Art


Cardboard furniture

Cardboard Chairs 1

Cardboard Chairs 2

Cardboard box blocks

From 18 to 19 Sept. 2010, workshop participants guided by nine cutartists from Tehran, Isfahan, Bandar Abbas and Yazd turned a gallery space into a subjective one: that of Marmeladov, a pratagonist of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. The gallery walls served as the pratagonist’s skull, the installation as his mental construction guiding viewers through the same mental procedure that he experiences and narrates in the second chapter of Dostoevsky’s masterpiece.

Given at Tooba Cultural Centre, Bandar Abbas, Fri. 17th Sept. 2010 The lecture tried to give a brief sketch of installation art and its place in contemporary art and how it relates to the idea of ‘space’. It also attempted at tracing a relationship between performance art and installation maintaining that the space of installation is always a ‘subjective’ space understood through performance. The workshop in the following day aimed at creating a installation that would occupy the whole exhibition space and perform on the viewer when the exhibition was inaugurated.

You can get Call for Artists in Persian from here.

Ads designed by Aria Kasai for publication in Tandis weekly art magazine.

Get Hossein Hosseini’s proposal in Persian and pdf format here.

This was a proposal for a performance accompanying Garden Party at the Austrian Residency in Tehran. The party did not happen, so the performance was cancelled accordingly.

Get the final proposal in pdf format here.

You can get Hossein Hosseini’s draft for the proposal in Persian and pdf format from here.

You can view Roxana Piroozmand’s visual draft for the proposal here.

Proposal for an Event at the Austrian Residency in Tehran (1)

15 Aug. 2010

Sketches by Zahra Hosseini

I. Description

The event, accompanied by music performances and screenings by other artists, is designed for 40 guests enjoying a garden party. Ten members of the group, aka cutartists, help make the performance happen. They are recognizable from the guests through their formal dress, cardboard masks and millstone ruffs (Fig.1)

II. Procedure

The performance happens in three phases: inauguration, explanation and application.

A. Inauguration Phase

During this phase, cutartists wait for all guests to arrive and make themselves at home. As the party begins, the guests gradually realize the presence of a large cardboard box (3*3*2m) standing on the terrace emitting light from the perforated group logo on its sides (See Fig.2). By the sound of drumming or a bell, the guests are invited to gather around the box to watch the box open up after a short speech. Meanwhile, brochures explaining the function of partying tools in Persian and English are distributed among the crowd. These resemble usual brochures of home appliances with technical drawings. Guest will keep these with them till the end of the party and are allowed to take them home once the party is finished. Guests are also asked to choose from the juices that will be served by the cutartists in paper-cups. (Fig.3&4) This phase lasts one hour.

B. Explanation Phase

As the box opens up, guests get a view of a large pyramidal cardboard ‘structurl’ holding 20 partying tools prepared by cutartists. (Fig. 2) Guests return back to the normal course of the party for a quarter of an hour as the cutartists divide into groups of two, each taking responsibility of presenting four partying tools in Persian and English to every one or two guest (Fig.5-9.) The presentation is brief (less than 30 seconds) and corresponds to the instructions indicated in the brochures. Each two cutartists do a demonstration of the way tools are applied and check the boxes on guests’ brochures to keep track of which tools are presented to which guests. The cutartists move back and forth between the shelf and the guests until all guests are presented with all partying tools. The phase takes one to one and a half hour to complete parallel to other party procedures.

C. Application Phase

Guests are welcome to use any tool they wish to communicate with one another and make the most of the party. The last two phases blend into one another without a clear-cut distinction as cutartists retreat and gather around the pyramidal cardboard structure. The partying tools are finally presented for sale for the symbolic price of 50 Euros. The phase lasts from 30min to one hour.

III. Specification

General Idea:

to provide guests with partying tools and the necessary guidance for their application.

Duration: 3hrs

Number of performers: 10 cutartists


Cardboard (70sqm), wet glue past, 120 paper cups, orange, pine-apple, pomegranate and grape juice for 40 people, brochures (40)

Number of Guests: 40

Number of Partying tools: 20


1. Zu Risiken und Nebenwirkungen lesen Sie die Packungbeilage und fragen Sie Ihren Arzt oder Apotheker.

The following are pages Zahra Hosseini’s sketchbook. Every cutartist is supposed to have one.

The following are five pages from Hossein Hosseini’s sketchbook. Every cutartist is supposed to have one. Ideas copyrighted.

The workshop, the report of which is also posted on website, resulted in the creation of nine performance boxes. Each of the boxes created new means for transmission of a single phenomenon through an unusual medium. Six cutartists, mentioned below, led the groups while Bavand Behpoor and Hadis Aghakhan Beigi acted as the link between the groups.

Group One

Cutartist leaders: Zahra Hosseini, Hossein Hosseini

Creators: Mehrnoosh Borna, Arezoo Soleymani, Sahar Sha’bani, Marzieh Hooshmand, Mehdi Ravandi, Behrooz Moslemi, Mahboobeh Nasiri, Sahar Vatanzadeh, Mohammad Sayyar, Shirin Cheraghzadeh

Box 1

Allowing transmission of kisses through palpation mediator. The transmitter holds a small air bag in his hand and reads out a love letter that turns aggressive through time!

Box 2

Allowing transmission of torture. The tortured can leave notes on cardboard knifes informing the torturer about the pain caused.

Box 3

Allowing transmission of an algorithm. When the pinhole on one side is covered, the other participant understands it as a signal. However, the algorithms written on two sides are different, thus resulting in a misreading of the signals transmitted: one participant is asked to transmit through several signals the answer to this question: ‘who is most beautiful among your nieces and nephews?’ while she is ignorant of the fact that her answers are actually determining the fate of the person on the other side of the box: she will be destined to a certain punishment according to the answers the other participant gives.

Group Two

Cutartist leaders: Zahra Sadat Tabataba’i, Roxana Piroozmand

Creators: Maryam Jahandarpoor, Mahsa Kajoori, Mehrooz Naghshinehfard, Pejhman Shahali, Mohammad Reza Poormoghaddam, Mohammad Javad Zareh, Shayan Salari, Nastaran Khajeh, Tannaz Shams

Box 4

Allowing transmission of a notion through touching of hands.

Box 5

Allowing transmission of silence through an interruption of a counting process. As one performer counts aloud, another performer counts numbers into his ears.

Box 6

Allowing transmission of narcissism through asking questions and caressing the replier’s foot regardless of the given answer.

Group Three

Cutartist leaders: Mansooreh Panahbarkhoda, Hamid Reza Sadeghi

Creators: Esmail Bazparan, Hamed Salehizadeh, Narges Rafiee Ayyoobloo, Fatemeh Jahangiri, Elnaz Abdollahi, Pegah Pashangeh, Babak Bafahm, Zahra Khosheghbal, Behamin Boostani, Fatemeh Eksiri Box 7

Allowing transmission of lust through palpatory mediator. One performer inserts his hands into holes perforated in the box, the other rubs his hands with different bags (greasy, soft, warm) filled with water.

Box 8

Allowing transmission of philosophy through alteration of a meaningless text (palimpsest?).

Box 9

Allowing verbal communication but with human interference. Inside the middle box, sits a cutartist who alters texts thrown into the box before passing it to the other side.

On 5th Aug. 2010, a lecture by Bavand Behpoor titled ‘Performance as Art and Theoretical Framework’ was hold at Howzeh Honari Institute in Shiraz. This was followed in the next day by a workshop, the report of which is accessible on the website. The Persian text of the lecture can be accessed on the corresponding page. The following is an excerpt of the lecture:

Goethe summarizes five philosophical doctrines related to performativity as Faust tries to translate the New Testament into German: ‘In the beginning was the Word . . .’

‘Tis writ, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’

I pause, to wonder what is here inferred.

The Word I cannot set supremely high:

A new translation I will try.

I read, if by the spirit I am taught,

This sense: ‘In the beginning was the Thought.’

This opening I need to weigh again,

Or sense may suffer from a hasty pen.

Does Thought create, and work, and rule the hour?

‘Twere best: ‘In the beginning was the Power.’

Yet, while the pen is urged with willing fingers.

A sense of doubt and hesitancy lingers.

The spirit comes to guide me in my need,

I write ‘In the beginning was the Deed.’

(J.W.Goethe (1976) Faust: Part One (London: Penguin), p.71.)

In short, Faust is trying nominalism, Cartesiansim, Nietzschean philosophy and performativity to make sense of this line in Saint John. His act of translation and scripture is also in itself a reference to the problem of necessity and free will.

Cutartists’ workshop in Shiraz was held on 5th Aug. 2010 at Howzeh Honari Institute. 30 attendants were divided into three groups each led by two cutartists. Eight cutartists from Yazd, Isfahan and Tehran had come together to make this event possible. Bavand Behpoor and Hadis Aghakhanbeigi acted as the link between the groups.

The workshop consisted of five stages. In the first, each group was to build out of cardboard three boxes measuring 100*100*40cm. In the second stage, the participants had to think of a list of phenamena to transfer through the boxes and how the design of a box can make this transmission indirect and via a new medium. Then, each group had to choose three of ideas and redesigned boxes accordingly.  In the third phase, the boxes were transformed through additions and omissions.

In the fourth phase, two participants from another group would test the function of boxes in front of the whole participants.

In the fifth and final stage, the works of all groups were put together to form a different project. The boxes created a single machine with several entrances through which different objects were inserted. The outputs were amazing!

Graphic Design: Morteza Mahallati


As we were founding our group, we thought of a group that can be art in itself. A group which is more oriented towards the process of making art than the product itself. It is absolutely crucial to us how we interact with one another and in our group, enjoying the process is a must. Therefore, it is an artist-oriented group rather than audience-oriented, although you cannot usually tell for sure who is the audience and who is the artist. Our set of rules are set as such:

1. It is important to be on time. So we make money out of late-comers. For every quarter of an hour, you pay a fine;

2. It is easy to enter the group even easier to leave it, but quite hard, financially, to re-enter it once you have left. For each session you are absent, you pay a fine;

3. Each new member contributes a sum to group upon entrance;

4. The acceptance of every new member is dependent upon the approval of all previous members;

5. Ideas to be performed by the group are formed collectively. However, all the members of the group help to execute the ideas of every other member when the idea is worth it!

6. The main material of our performances are cardboards, wet glue labels, and people. Ideas most be translated into the determined material;

7. We love to design and build the space of our performances;

8. We do not limit ourselves to galleries or learned audience. We enjoy working for people. We would love to be looked upon and paid as workers;

9. Any regulations ratified in any session serves as law for those who have been absent;

10. An agelast can never be an avant-garde;

11. You should teach others to take seriously what is not serious;

12. Only that cuts a paper with scissors who has never held a cutter in his hand;

13. Any cut edge of a cardboard must be covered with wet glue label.

The following photo shows an original document sent by a cutartist to justify her absence:

The following bilingual brochure in pdf format (200Kb) provides you with invaluable guidlines on how to construct a performance box as we did. Click here! You can see the pages in your browser by clicking on the thumbnails below.

A workshop for Howzeh Honari in Shiraz will be held on 4th and 5th Aug. 2010 with six members of the group. The eight-hours workshop on 5th will follow a lecture by Bavand Behpoor on Performance Art on 4th Aug.

Texts written in Persian by Hossein Hosseini for performance boxes (in PDF format):

Structurl 1

Structurl 2

Structurl 3

These pictures show how our performance box works. You enter it, the door is closed, your head is covered, the boxes are attahced, sash windows are opened, the upper box rotates 360 degrees and you see what you see, what you have chosen to see and the artists and curators have chosen to be seen by you.

Graphic Design: Kianoosh Tanha

designed by Kianoosh Tanha

Most /a:t/BrE performances are done for a single audience. Therefore you have to book in advance in order to take part in our performances. Use the box below (IE users click on Comments) with your contact details or contact us via our email in order to book now. We will get back to you in two days. Once the places have run out you can still apply for waiting list!

Following are some ads suggested by cutartists to be published in newspapers. /a:t/BrE tends to perform in people’s places (which, in Iran, are the true public spaces) and in reaching its audience it makes use of various means, including ads:

The key to your success is in our hands. Send address, receive the key.

We are alone. We understand you.

Hair implant with side-effects.

Experience commodification with us.

Keep your lonliness to yourself in the boxes we build for you.

We will come to your houses. The fee is per hour.

I totally agree with you. Please call.

Do not take any decisions without us.

Performance in your darn place.

Our magical box, full of excitement and wonders, suitable for the learned of all ages, forces contemporary art down your throat. Door to door delivery across the country.

Our skilled staff will polish your golden heart.

Dear wealthy fat friends who are supposedly busy. Do not worry about your overweight. We will come to your place.

Performance carnaval with experienced experts. Suitable for birthday parties and all kinds of celebrations.

We will arrange your programmes. Call.

Looking for jobs? You wouldn’t find one. Call to chat.

Contemporary Art Marketer at your door.

Performance Box is a project for pluralizing the idea of curatorship. Designed for single audiences, it is actually a small cardboard gallery space in which the contents of four boxes can be shown in a desired manner. The audience enters an initial box which covers the body apart from the head. A second box which can revolve around the head is placed on top. Four shutters allow access to four smaller boxes that can be attached to and removed from the performance box.

For a curatorship at Mohsen Gallery, Tehran, 50 artists are chosen to submit works in small boxes on the subject of  a short-short story by Peter Handke (indicated below). Each artist is asked to curate a maximum of 15 minutes show by defining which boxes with which manner will be shown to an audience. The audience will choose among 50 different curatorships, thus making a visit to the gallery a rather personal experience. Any visit to the gallery shall be booked in advance. The show is advertised in the newspapers and boxes can be purchased by visitors. 10 percent of the money will go to the corresponding curator. All performers also submit a box.

Eyewitness Account

By Peter Handke

According to eyewitness account, it happened like this: a retarded boy, dragging feet on the ground and bouncing head as if hanging from his bulk comes out of the farm. Then, while mumbling unmeaning words, advances in the yard towards the cleaver used for chopping beets. At this point, the vacuous boy’s custodian comes out of a neigbouring house and teaches the crazy boy how to use the cleaver: he piles the beets next to the machine and raises, with one hand, the sharp blade of the cleaver and with the other hand brings forth a beet and finally chops the beet with its guillotine-like blade. Then the silly boy nods, then the custodian pushes the handle between the boy’s fingers and puts a beet, up to its leaves, under the blade, then the idiot boy raises the cleaver and in one move chops the leaves off the beet, then with his right hand grabs his custodian from his neck and cuts open his skull with one move, then lays the custodian down horizontally on the pile of beets and then the fingers, in a good position, let go the custodian’s neck who is throbbing, then thrusts the cleaver into the custodian’s neck with a little stroke of the left hand, then raises the cleaver again and strikes again and the custodian’s hands, in response to the stroke of the cleaver, jump up and the youngster raises the blade again and brings it down and the custodian’s hands jump up again and then the isolated youth, distressed and agitated, changes hands and strikes with his right hand, then the boy changes hands again and strikes with the left hand and according to the eyewitness account little by little his moves slow down, as seen in movies, changes hands, right hand, left hand, mumbling unmeaning words, chuckling and nodding unintentionally, pausing from time to time and rubbing his eyes, then strikes the custodian’s neck until he cuts his head off with great effort, after the corps’s numerous rolling and throbbing. At this point, when the eyewitness realizes that the idiot is mad to continue his strokes finally jumps over him, takes the cleaver and stops him angrily. (1965)

design: Hossein Hosseini

Poster 4

 /a:t/BrE was born out of a class Bavand Behpoor taught at Mah-e-Mehr, a private art institute in Tehran, for two semesters in summer and autumn 2009. The course was called, Performance Art: Theory and Practice. When the course was finished, to compensate for the lack of practice in the course which was mostly theoretical, the students were invited to come together outside the institution to found a group on the basis of certain agreements: firstly, we all believe in contemporary art. Secondly, we all think that we can create original and authentic ‘art’ in proper sense in Iran as long as we maintain a direct connection to the situation. Thirdly, we believe that wit and joy are essential to being contemporary. Fourthly, we prefer ordinary people as audience, although we are not ordinary ourselves. Fifthly, we value process more highly than product; we prefer to have a group that is art in itself rather than producing art. (Hence the group name, /a:t/BrE) Sixthly, enjoying what you do is a must. Seventhly, anybody can be artist but not all ideas are worth performing. Eightly, there is no reason to do personally what you can do collectively. Ninthly, art must be built. Tenthly, it is gorgeous to be a performer!

The cutartists

Cutartists are not limited to a particular circle of people. They are from many cities and with various artistic tastes. Here is a list of cutartists who have helped the group with their skill or presence in our open sessions:

Bavand Behpoor

Hossein Hosseini

Zahra Hosseini

Roxana Piroozmand

Hadis Aghakhanbeygi

Hamid Reza Sadeghi

Milad Hooshmandzadeh

Niloofar Emamifar

Vahid Salehi

Sam Jaberansari

Shaghayegh Ghasemi

Arezoo Ghasemi

Mina Eftekhari

Shiva Mihan

Zahra Sadat Tabataba’i

Atefeh Parhizkar

Mansooreh Panahbarkhoda

Hossein Abdoli

Mohammad Hosseini

Nima Emrani

Said Mazinani



/a:t/BrE is how Britons pronounce art. It is the name of our performance art group when pronounced correctly. Other pronunciations are the names of other groups. We do not consider our perfromances ‘art’ in the proper sense. They are rather art in its improper sense of the word, hence the title /a:t/BrE.


Each member of the group is called a cutartist, for, we build our performance spaces by cutting and sticking together cardboards. Anybody pronouncing it fast will experience some kind of Aristotlian catharsis.

Performance Box

Our performances can be gallery-free, i.e. performed anywhere and even commissioned and tailored to a single audience. We sometimes build our portable galleries out of cardboard which we call performance box.


Everything we build is a structurl–a churlish structure.

Partying Tools

Interactive objects made out of cardboard made for the enjoyment of a guest in a party. Most partying tools facilitate communication and interaction between two guests.

Millstone Ruff

The millstone ruff is a round collar made of pleated white linen. It was fashionable in Holland from the late 16th century to about 1625. They began small, but became increasing broad until finally resembling millstones. We wear paper ruffs due to its resemblance enlarged section of a cardboard.

Ejragostaran Moaser

Since we were gradually making money out of this non-commercial art known as performance, we thought of registering the first Iranian performance art company with limited responsibility. We chose a rather cheesy name for it, meaning ‘those who promote contemporary performance’. Company names in Iran need to be combined of three words and hence the combination, ‘Ejra Gostaran Moaser’.

design: Hossein Hosseini

Poster 5

design: Hossein Hosseini (H2)

Poster 3

design: Hossein Hosseini

Poster 2

A poster by the graphic cutartist designer, Hossein HosseiniPoster 1