Projects PublicationsTehran Monoxide

Tabl Space has produced and partially supported a local Iranian limited print run of the first edition of Tehran Monoxide: A Project by Negar Farajiani, edited by Ashkan Zahraei, and originally published by Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture, University of California, Irvine, in October 2021.

This book revisits and reviews Tehran Monoxide, an ongoing project initiated in 2010 by artist and curator Negar Farajiani. The project has enjoyed an expansive scope: from setting up an art exhibition at a school to engaging with people in a downtown pharmacy; from learning about the effects of house plants on air pollution to peddling plants on the street and making up a tree garden of exhaust pipes in a treeless garden. Tehran Monoxide involves teaching schoolchildren and at the same time, learning from them. Negar chronicles her ten-year project starting with a simple question on air pollution in Tehran to accommodating green corners in classrooms and much tighter spots.

Growing out of her concern over Tehran’s increasing levels of air pollution and its potential impact on her young son Aban, she began brainstorming on how to raise awareness about the topic and find ways to connect with people who either shared her concern or indeed needed to be concerned. As so, with her background as an artist, Negar initiated the project by inviting other artists to collaborate on Tehran Monoxide as an exhibition of art presented at a school, as if implying an educational aspect in the work of other artists that the schoolchildren could benefit from.

During Tehran Monoxide’s next phase, the same schoolchildren, as well as many other students in Tehran, were provided with the opportunity to contribute to the project. It was when it became obvious that there was much the artists could learn —about the perspectives of the younger generations towards air pollution and how it affects their lives, issues the artists, many of whom were parents, thought they knew and understood well. The current book is based on Negar’s project diaries, notes, documents, and recollections.

After finalizing work on the archive in early 2018, the organized data facilitated the process of writing down each phase and step of Tehran Monoxide. Negar’s long notes in Farsi compiled since 2018 were the foundations for this book’s main part —edited, laid out, translated, and composed during most of 2020 and early 2021.

The book follows a chronological timeline, and as Negar has been personally responsible and invested in the project continuously from the very beginning, the text explicitly chronicles her steps, efforts, recollections, and memories in a first-person narrative tone and style. To give the reader a richer sense of the project’s progress and provide visual guides, the book features over one hundred photographs, images, and illustrations. Moreover, articles by academics and researchers help give the project a broader perspective and a more relatable context.