White or Black?

By: Roshanak Keyghobadi | August, 2014
 

“Good and evil are in the human nature
Happiness and sorrow are destiny …”
Omar Khayyam

Artists:
Jalal Sepehr
Shahrnaz Zarkesh
Rasool Kamali
Sanaz Dezfoulian
Farshid Larimian (Farshido)
Mahmoud Kashfipour

 

One of the topics of study in philosophy and religion is focused on good and evil and whether they coexist in contrast or harmony? Are dualities such as white or black, light or dark, day or night, life or death and female or male in opposition or are they complimentary? The selected artworks in this collection unpack the inner thoughts and visual reactions of the artists who have created them in relationship to contemporary dichotomies.

 
In his series of photographs Sepehr has investigated the idea of displacement by positioning an icon (carpet) outside of its assigned location and has created contradictory and surprising instances. Zarkesh has also used an icon (spider web) yet her artwork explores the relationship between natural and artificial and on a philosophical level she has questioned the idea of entrapment and freedom.
 
Dezfoulian has tried to turn usual to unusual. Ordinary commodities such as clothes, shoes, furniture and household items take the center stage and become the main characters of her paintings. Similarly by mixing and matching old and new Larimian has brought unrelated images together and produced a cohesive whole which takes on a hybrid identity.
 
In the enigmatic pictorial world of Kamali it seems that white and black, concealed and revealed, refined and crude coexist in peace yet in an uncertain state of being. In his video Kashfipour challenges perception and not only questions reality but also searches for the truth.Written for the Persbook 2014.
Written for Persbook 2014.
 
© Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2014. This essay cannot be reproduced, quoted, translated or published in part or as a whole in any format without Roshanak Keyghobadi’s permission.

سپید یا سیاه؟ 

نیکی و بدی که در نهاد بشر است
…شادی و غمی که در قضا وقدر است
عمرخیام

 

:هنرمندان
جلال سپهر
شهرناز زرکش
رسول کمالی
ساناز دزفولیان
فرشید لریمان – فرشیدو
محمود کشفی پور

,یکی ازمباحث مطالعه درفلسفه ودین به روی نیکی وبدی تمرکز دارد واینکه آیا این دودرکنارهم درتضاد هستند یا هماهنگی؟ آیا دوگونه هایی ازقبیل سپید وسیاه ,روشنی وتاریکی روزوشب ,زندگی ومرگ وزن ومرد مخالف یکدیگرند یا مکمل؟ اثار انتخاب شده برای این مجموعه افکار درونی و واکنشهای تصویری هنرمندانی که آنها را دررابطه با تضادهای معاصر خلق کرده اند می شکافند

سپهردرمجموعه عکس های خود به بررسی ایده جابجا شدن پرداخته ویک نماد (قالی) را درخارج از  موقعیت معین ان قرار داده  ومواردی متناقض وغیرمنتظره به وجود آورده است. زرکش نیز با استفاده از یک نماد (تارعنکبوت) رابطه طبیعتی وساختگی را کشف واز لحاظ فلسفی اسارت و آزادی را تحت سوال قرارمیدهد

دزفولیان کوشیده است که معمولی را به غیرمعمولی تبدیل کند واجناس عادی مثل لباس, کفش, اسباب ووسایل خانه به میان گود میایند و نقش اصلی را در نقاشی های او بازی میکنند. به همین سان لریمان تصاویربدون رابطه را با یکدیگر تطبیق میدهد وادغام میکند ویک مجموعه منسجم با هویتی پیوندی پدید می آورد

در دنیای تصویری مرموز کمالی به نظر میرسد که سپید و سیاه , پوشیده و آشکار ,ظریف وزمخت درحالتی نا معلوم ولی در آرامش همزیستی میکنند . کشفی پورادراک را به مبارزه می طلبد ونه تنها واقعیت را زیر سوال میبرد بلکه به دنبال حقیقت نیز میباشد

روشنک کیقبادی  | ١٣٩٣
 
 .برای پرسبوک ١٣٩٣ نوشته شد
.چاپ وتکثیر این متن به هرشکلی بدون اجازه روشنک کیقبادی ممنوع است 
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Recovering the Past: “Letters” of Shadi Yousefian

By: Roshanak Keyghobadi | November 22, 2013

We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverably for ourselves and for others.”
– Goethe

In her recent exhibition at Shirin Gallery NY[i], Shadi Yousefian has created a visual narrative of recovering her personal letters and restoring what was destined to be lost.

Yousefian moved to the United States in 1995 when she was sixteen and until 1997 kept up a constant correspondence through handwritten letters with her family members and close friends. Ten years later she re-examined thick packages of letters that she had affectionately stored and realized that many of the events and details of the letters were not familiar to her anymore. She recalls: “The content of my correspondence were so deeply layered within hundreds of overlapping pages that their temporality remains an unordered flow- I could not remember what happened when, even as my own sense of identity and belonging has, in part, taken form through in the affective exchange.”

Yousefian’s act of recovery started when she reformatted the contents and form of the letters and gave a new life to them. By redacting, cutting, staining, gluing, nailing, and punching holes, she developed a ritualistic process which assigned a new meaning to her accumulated personal documents. To understand this process one must not only view all works on display in relationship to each other and experience the whole gestalt but also search for connections and meanings of each work within itself.

In her first attempts Yousefian cautiously deconstructed the letters by punching, cutting and nailing photocopies and later with more confidence she used the actual letters, still hesitant to interrupt their content, words and sentences. Gradually she detached herself from the content and concentrated on form.  Long strips of paper glued on top of each other become small squares or circles meticulously nailed and positioned in grids.

Yousefian chose to start working on the letters of family and friends first and later she moved on to her own letters[ii]. She explains the emotional and aesthetic divide between her own letters and the other letters:  “Where my friends’ letters were mostly impassioned and joyful, my own reflected the sadness and strain of my early years in the United States. I manifested this melancholic distance by presenting my own letters bare and unstained, where I animated those from friends by staining their pages with the wine and tea we once shared.

It seems that Yousefian has tried to give the emotional voices of the letters a unified and rational form in order to sort out her own feelings and thoughts about them. For example in Untitled (above images), nails hold down fragments of letters that are cut in shape of small squares.  Each squared specimen reveals a portion of a larger written content. In different handwritings, legible or illegible, rushed or controlled, pieces of various emotions are on display and the viewers can verbally and visually connect them together: “Hello…I am writing…I remember…congratulations…night…kiss…call me…joy…1377…try…I hope…life…photo…I laughed…I am sure…gradually…think…help…talk…”

Within this cohesive composition there is a tension between the materials and content. Colors of the papers, untouched or stained, are in natural tones of green, blue, sienna, ivory and white which are tranquil and quite yet they seem to move on the surface of the piece.  Although the organic handwritten lines of letters are interrupted by cutting and pining and then neatly positioned in a mechanical grid, each square preserves its character and holds one or few words, which transfer a message or trigger a feeling.

Rows and rows of nine hundred nails compose a visual sound. One can imagine the loud and repetitive action which can also be meditative and centering when Yousefian was hammering them down. This rhythm also flows in the colors, shapes and patterns that are reminiscent of traditional Iranian tile and brick works in Shiraz and Isfahan.

In her exhibition Shadi Yousefian shares her thoughts and creative process by walking us through her rituals of realization (finding and re-reading the letters), selection (choosing specific parts of the letters), detachment (cutting the letters), manipulation (making something new with the letters), and reflection (re-examining the letters in a new format). She explains: “… ‘Letters,’ effects an intimate, indexical relation between my past and present; and shapes the intangible mesh of lives entwined across a distance into an architecture of lived experiences.”

©Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2013

Above images. Shadi Yousefian, Untitled, 2011, 48 in x 48 in, Mixed Media. (Full image and detail)

Also see http://www.shadiyousefian.com


[i] Shirin Gallery NY http://www.shiringalleryny.com. Shadi Yousefian’s “Letters” will be on view from October 24 to November 28, 2013.

[ii] Yousefian asked her family and friends to send back her letters.

Ritual of Recollection: Barbad Golshiri and Mim Kaf Mim Aleph

By: Roshanak Keyghobadi | November 2013

از خاک در آمدیم و…
…بر باد شدیم
عمرخیام

…We were ascended from the soil
and blown by the wind…
Omar Khayyam

It is estimated that around 146,357 people die each day in the world. Some may be buried individually or in mass graves cremated or not buried.  Most burials and mourning rituals bring closure for those who are left behind.

A computerized search on Behesht Zahra’s[i] website provides the exact location of a grave (section, row and number) as well as the information on the tombstone (first name, last name, father’s first name, date of birth and date of death). Family members of the deceased may also add poems and photos (framed or etched) to the tombstones. By marking a location and providing specific information, a tombstone not only becomes a proof for a life once existed on earth and a site for identification but also is a way that family and friends can locate and visit the deceased and become engaged in their ceremonies of respect and remembrance.

Barbad Golshiri’s portable stencil flat iron tombstone masterfully facilitates the ritual of recollection for the family of a man who was denied a tombstone. As it is explained in the catalogue of his recent exhibition at Thomas Erben Gallery[ii],

“The stenciled text narrates the labyrinthine death of a man who for political reasons could never have a tombstone on his grave. His family asked the artist to make a tombstone for him and the artist made an ephemeral tomb for their loved one. Each time the family visits the cemetery they bring along the stenciled tombstone with them, place it on the grave and stealthily pour soot powder on it. The text is thus imprinted and depending on the wind strength vanishes in a few hours or a few days. The act is repeated as a ritual.

The epitaph reads in Persian:

Here Mim Kaf Aleph does not rest. He is dead. Layer beneath layer dead. Depth beyond depth. Each time deeper. Each death deeper. Stone upon stone. Each stone a death. Mim Kaf Mim Aleph has no stone. Has never had. No trace of it [also: so be it]. Never in all deaths. December came and Mim Kaf Mim Aleph was no longer [there]. Is not.”

By denying Mim Kaf Mim Aleph a permanent tombstone in a specific location, his grave (which can now be anywhere, although he is buried in one specific place) becomes an active and mobile site of remembrance and takes on a nomadic life. If the denial of a tombstone was an act of obliteration, the stencil tombstone becomes a tool for visibility, liberation and constant renewal and recall.

The ritual of spreading the soot over the stencil tombstone is reminiscence of the ceremonies of spreading ashes of cremated bodies over land or water, when upon their release ashes disappear in the space and cannot be assembled again. Yet the act of spreading soot on the grave and over the iron stencil gives shape to letters, words and sentences which all describe and point to the fact that this particular site is not an ordinary site and a body is buried underneath. The ritual gives identity to an unidentified grave and the enigmatic narrative transforms the epitaph into a riddle to be solved. Only the family of the man knows the full answer, only they know the details of a life that is no more.

Barbad Golshiri’s The Untitled Tomb can be interpreted based on where it is located/displayed. In the hands of Mim Kaf Mim Aleph’s family it is a private and practical tool for performing their visitation rites. In a gallery space it is a public and aesthetic object standing on its own with no relationship to its original location and context yet with close connection to the other tombstones created by Golshiri in his Curriculum Mortis.
© Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2013.

Image: Barbad Golshiri, The Untitled Tomb, 2012. Iron, soot. 60.5 x 135 x 0.2 cm. Edition of 3 + 1AP.

Also see: http://www.barbadgolshiri.com


[i]Behesht Zahara is the largest cemetery in Iran located in south part of Tehran which was established in 1970. It is around 540 hectares and has close to 1,400,000 graves. http://beheshtezahra.tehran.ir/Default.aspx?tabid=92

[ii] Curriculum Mortis exhibition by Barbad Golshiri was on view at Thomas Erben Gallery in New York from September 7 to October 26, 2013. http://www.thomaserben.com

Iran in New York City

 

 

Iran Modern
September 6, 2013 to January 5, 2014

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue, 
New York, NY 10021
212-288-6400

From: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/iran-modern

“The first major international loan exhibition of Iranian modern art created from the 1950s to 1970s. Showcasing more than 100 works by 26 artists, the exhibition illuminates Iran’s little known pre-Islamic Revolution era when Tehran was a cosmopolitan art center, artists were engaged with the world through their participation in the Venice Biennale and other international art festivals, and their work was collected by institutions inside and outside of Iran. The paintings, sculpture, works on paper and photography included in the exhibition are organized thematically to map the genesis of Iranian modernism and argues that the development of modernist art is inherently more globally interconnected than has been previously acknowledged.

The exhibition comprises works by the following artists: Ahmad Aali, Abbas, Massoud Arabshahi, Siah Armajani, Mohammad Ehsai, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Mansour Ghandriz, Marcos Grigorian, Ghasem Hajizadeh, Nahid Hagigat, Bahman Jalali, Rana Javadi, Reza Mafi, Leyly Matine-Daftary, Ardeshir Mohassess, Bahman Mohassess, Nicky Nodjoumi, Houshang Pezeshknia, Faramarz Pilaram, Behjat Sadr, Abolghassem Saidi, Sohrab Sepehri, Parviz Tanavoli, Mohsen Vaziri-Moqaddam, Manoucher Yektai, and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi.

The exhibition is organized thematically into the following sections: Saqqakhaneh—looking at the neotraditional style inspired by Iranian folk art and culture—abstraction, and calligraphy, with a monographic focus on selected artists within each section. An archive room will provide background on the history, politics and culture of the period, including primary source documents, posters, ephemera and a timeline of key political and cultural events. Iran Modern is curated by independent scholars Fereshteh Daftari and Layla S. Diba.”

 
Modern Iranian Art
Selections from the Abby Weed Grey Collection
September 10, 2013 to December 7, 2013

Grey Art Gallery, New York University
100 Washington Square East, New York, New York  10003
212-995-4024

From: http://www.nyu.edu/greyart/

“Highlighting the creativity of artists who drew on their cultural heritage to redefine Iran’s visual identity during the decades leading up to the 1979 Revolution, Modern Iranian Art: Selections from the Abby Weed Grey Collection at NYU presents key works of Iranian modernism from the 1960s and ’70s. Housed here, these paintings, sculptures, drawings, and jewelry are part of the Abby Weed Grey Collection of Modern Asian and Middle Eastern Art, and comprise the largest public holding of Iranian modern art outside Iran.…Abby Grey amassed nearly 700 pieces—representing countries as diverse as India, Turkey, Japan, Nepal, and Israel, as well as Iran—on numerous trips to Asia and the Middle East to promote cross-cultural exchange. In each country, she sought out artists who were in tune with international artistic developments.

In Iran, she gravitated toward those who were grappling with how to reconcile their modern sensibilities with their Persian roots. Inspired by classical Persian poetry, calligraphy, and miniature painting, they were also appropriating images from Shiism, the dominant form of Islam in Iran, to convey abstract concepts. Many of them were active in the Saqqakhaneh School of the 1960s, which was named for the traditional public shrine-fountains where water is stored. On view here are major early works by some of the best-known modern Iranian artists, including Siah Armajani, Kamran Diba, Faramarz Pilaram, Parviz Tanavoli, and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, among others.

A number of important works from the Abby Weed Grey collection are included in Iran Modern,…that is on view at Asia Society in New York.”

 

Above images:

Right:
Mohammad Ehsaei, Untitled, 1974
Oil on canvas,  47 1/4 x 31 1/16 inches (120x 79 cm).
Collection of the Artist.
(On view at Asia Society)

Left:
Parviz Tanavoli
We are Happy Locked within Holes, 1970
bronze on travertine stone base
30 x 7 1/4 x 10 3/4 inches (76.2 x 18.4 x 27.3 cm) (including integral base)
Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection
Gift of Abby Weed Grey, G1975.56
(On view at Grey Art Gallery)