Tala Madani,"Shitty Disco", 2024. Oil on linen. 152.4 x 147.32 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Pilar Corrias, London.



Temporary Exhibitions Space - Ground Floor

Exhibitions cycle: WHAT IF WOMEN RULED THE WORLD? Part 4

EMΣT is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Greece of the internationally acclaimed Los Angeles-based Iranian artist Tala Madani. Entitled Shitty Disco, it is the first museum exhibition of the artist in Europe in more than a decade. Bringing together more than forty paintings, drawings and stop-motion animations, it highlights various themes that have run through the artist’s work over the past fifteen years.

In her multilayered work, Madani creates enigmatic scenes, depicting human figures at their most vulnerable, private, violent, absurd, and perplexing moments. Gangs of naked, clumsy, middle-aged men engaged in self-destructive activities, mothers covered in faeces, giant babies and other archetypal characters smeared in their bodily fluids all appear as couriers of a bitter and sarcastic message about human nature. Moving steadily between immediacy and ambiguity, Madani dismantles preconceived gender roles and stereotypes to explore power structures, sexuality, group dynamics, westernised and idealised notions of family, and the construction of identity.

Frequently referencing the visual language of cartoons, Madani’s often self-deprecating characters defy the laws of physics and engage in impossible degrees of senseless yet tragi-comic violence which brings a welcome degree of comic relief to a bleak scenario. Light is central to many of the artist’s paintings, connecting her work to cinema and art history. Flashlights, projectors, and other unlikely sources create artificial, invasive beams that end up exposing the characters and exasperating the awkwardness of the depicted scenes.

Since 2007, Madani has made brief stop-motion animations, many of which are presented in the exhibition. Each animation consists of about 2,500 still images, quickly painted sequentially and recorded with a camera frame by frame. In sequence, the images present an imagined world that conveys a feeling of distress and absurdity while closely resembling our real world. With dark humour and biting wit, Madani explores the social references of basic human emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear, loneliness, abandonment, dependency, paranoia, envy and lust.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by Madani’s works of the same name. Made especially for the show at EMΣΤ, Shitty Disco (2024) depicts a metaphysical nightclub, a place that moves between fantasy and nightmare, invoking film, technology and different states of consciousness. For the exhibition, Madani has also created a series of new site-specific wall paintings, which cover the four imposing columns in the centre of the exhibition space. Two further works by the artist, part of the D.Daskalopoulos Collection Gift, are also on view in the renewed collection exhibition, entitled Women, together, on the 3rd floor of the museum.

Curator: Ioli Tzanetaki


The work of Tala Madani brings together various modes of critique about gender, particularly masculine and feminine stereotypes, as well as questioning westernised and idealised notions of childhood, family and the art historical canon. Her work is inflected with a perverse sense of humour and brings to bear basic human feelings and emotions, such as anxiety, anger, fear, isolation, paranoia, envy and lust. Madani was born in Tehran in 1981. She lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2006.

Recent solo shows include: Tala Madani: Biscuits, MOCA, Los Angeles (2022); Death Fan, KM21, The Hague (2022); It was as if the Shadows Were Lit Up, Longlati Foundation, Shanghai (2021); Skid Mark, Pilar Corrias, London (2021); Start Museum, Shanghai (2020); Mam Project 027: Tala Madani, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2019); Tala Madani, Vienna Secessions, Vienna (2019); Oven Light, Portikus, Frankfurt (2019); Lewben Playlist for Mo, MO Museum, Vilnius (2018); Tala Madani, La Panacée, Montpellier (2017); First Light, organised in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MIT Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (2016); Tala Madani, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville (2014); Tala Madani, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2014); Rip Image, Moderna Museet Malmö & Stockholm (2013); The Jinn, Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (2011).

Selected group exhibitions include: La Morsure des Termites (The Termites’ Bites), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2023); Keep Calm and Give a Shit, Buk-SeMA, Seoul Museum of Art (2023); In First Person Plural, MACRO Museum, Rome (2023); Trouble wandering (to eternity), Kasteel Wijlre Museum, Wijlre, The Netherlands (2022); In the Heart of Another Country: The Diasporic Imagination in the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection, Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2022); In a Dream You Saw a Way to Survive and You Were Full of Joy, The Contemporary Austin, Austin (2022); Anticorps, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2020); Radical Figures: painting in the New Millennium, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2020); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); The Great Acceleration: Art in the Anthropocene, Taipei Biennial (2014); Made in L.A. 2014, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014); Where are we Now?, 5th Marrakech Biennale, Marrakech (2014); PLAY! Recapturing the Radical Imagination, Göteborg Biennial (2013); The Future Generation Art Prize, Venice (2013); Speech Matters, Danish Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venice (2011); The Great New York, MoMA PS1, New York (2010); Greater New Younger than Jesus, New Museum, New York (2009).

Madani’s work is part of numerous public and private collections including: Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery, Bristol; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL; David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Guggenheim, New York, NY; Hall Art Foundation, New York, NY; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Long Museum, Shanghai; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA;  LUMA Foundation, Zurich; Moderna Museet Collection, Stockholm/Malmo; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Muse Luxembourg Sàrl, Luxembourg; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMΣT) as part of the D.Daskalopoulos Collection Gift, Athens; Pinault Collection, Paris; Saatchi Collection, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Modern, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MI; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.