Rasht 29 Club

Rasht 29 Club, Tehran, Iran (1967 – 1970)


 Kamran Diba, Parviz Tanavoli and Roxana Saba founded the Rasht 29 Club on the northside of Amir Kabir University, formerly the Tehran Polytechnic, on no. 29, Rasht Street in Tehran in 1967. The nonprofit art space occupied a three-story building with a U-shaped bar in the main hall, a lounge area and an open dining space with salvaged, old colored glass windows. There were not many galleries or exhibition spaces in Tehran at that time; however, there was a need for a social gathering space for artists: a place where they could freely discuss their practices and the ever-changing landscape of the arts of their time. Sometimes these conversations would continue until dawn and would lead to future artistic events. Eventually, in Diba's upstairs studio, deas for the future Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art were planned, programed and finally executed ten years later in 1977.
In addition to visual artists, architects, writers, journalists, collectors, poets, musicians and filmmakers would frequent the Rasht 29 Club. Poets would climb the wooden ladder, located in the main hall, and recite their poetry. Sometimes vagabond violinists and street performers would play a solo musical recital or break into an unofficial theatrical performance. Frequently, parties for exhibitions and concerts were held at the Rasht 29 Club in order to create an opportunity for the artists to meet one another and exchange ideas. Furthermore, the club’s restaurant served both an Iranian and international menu for both lunch and dinner, combining many perspectives that set the stage for these social gatherings. As a nonprofit art space, the income derived from the restaurant was spent on the upcoming projects. According to Kamran Diba,
The presence of artists at the club and the presentation of their works allowed the public to get familiar with them–especially since Tehran had only few galleries at the time and art sales were negligible. The poverty of local art market and the scarcity of financial support eventually prompted the club to stage the very first Iranian contemporary art auction. (Daneshvar, 81, 90: 2014)
Occasionally artists such as Zendehroudi and Hajizadeh were granted residencies on the top floor of the building, which was Diba’s former architectural office. An experimental theatre workshop used the large studio as their rehearsal space. Sometimes, and to the astonishment of club's clientele, Diba would encourage the performances to flow into the club’s dining area. On Thursdays, the club organized a sidewalk exhibition just outside the building where artists sold their works and books. Some artists would simply donate their paintings to the club or as payment for using the facilities. Thus, the walls of Rasht 29 were always adorned with great works of contemporary Iranian art.
Many artists and architects frequented the club: Charles-Hossein Zendehroudi, Sadegh Tabrizi, Faramarz Pilaram, Sohrab Sepehri, Masood Arabshahi, Yadollah Royayi, Nader Naderpour, Zubin Mehta, Bahman Mohasses, Reza Barahani, Ismail Shahroudi, Ahmadreza Ahmadi, Bijan Elahi, Ebrahim Golestan, Hajhir Dariush, Kamran Shirdel and Sadeq Chubak, to name a few.

Elham Puriya Mehr


      A Garden Between two Streets (in Farsi) 4001 days of the life of Kamran Diba. In conversation with Reza Daneshvar. Published by Edition Alborz. (2014)
      Mohebbi, Sohrab. Rasht 29, A cultural oasis in central Tehran: http://bidoun.org/articles/rasht-29