« The Fold », explore, des motifs tels que l’absence, la disparition, l’amnésie et l’importance de la mémoire dans l’Iran moderne et contemporain.
Les commissaires ont été inspirés par «Le Pli» (1988) du philosophe français Gilles Deleuze pour définir le thème de l’exposition. Le concept du pli y est ici exprimé à travers différentes approches, aussi bien psychologique, historique que politique.
Un pli peut être ouvert ou fermé, il se « déplie » ou se « plie » au monde. Il peut simultanément cacher plusieurs types d’informations, dans le temps ou dans l’espace.
Le pli renferme le passage du temps, il peut proposer le souvenir ou l’oubli. Il symbolise l’intervalle où le temps est suspendu, tandis que ses fissures ou déchirures peuvent évoquer certaines dimensions de l’ordre de l’invisible.
Le terme suggère également une compréhension différente de la relation à soi-même, un monde où l’intérieur et l’extérieur, le passé et le présent s’interposent.
En cette période d’hyper-modernité, on assiste à un engouement permanent pour la nouveauté, la croyance au progrès illimité, la dominance des technologies et l’importance de « l’ici et maintenant ». Cette soif pour les changements instantanés et permanents conduit à la perte de la mémoire, l’oubli du passé et de l’histoire. Cela mène, à un niveau personnel, à l’aliénation et à la perte de soi ; et à une plus grande échelle, à la modification de la mémoire collective. C’est une situation paradoxale car jamais auparavant nous n’avions été en mesure d’enregistrer, de stocker et d’évaluer autant de traces du passé.
Le pli peut faire référence à ces différentes images de la modernité telles que l’amnésie croissante et la disparition totale du sujet. Il se retrouve également dans le processus moderne d’urbanisation avec ses cycles récurrents de remplacement et de destruction de l’ancien et de l’antique. Il fini par créer son propre personnage: la figure du vagabond perdu, isolé et amnésique.
L’exposition «The Fold» favorise une approche intergénérationnelle, confrontant différentes positions esthétiques et couvrant quatre décennies d’art en Iran. L’exposition rassemble des artistes de renommée internationale tels que Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, qui a commencé sa carrière dans les année 60, époque de modernité imposée, avec d’autres comme Chohreh Feyzdjou et Reza Abdoh qui vivaient à l’étranger ou en exil et qui ont émergé dans les années 80, début des années 90. Ces artistes dialoguent avec des artistes issus de générations plus récentes tels que Shirin Sabahi ou Mani Manzinani.
Shirin Sabahi (*Tehran, 1984) is based in Copenhagen. working mainly with time-based media, she uses image as the primary material in her works and text as the interlocutor of ideas embedded in the image. Ranging from video and slide projection installations to collages, artist books and movie subtitles, her projects often develop from the tracing of the visual and textual material she collects. In her artistic practice, she addresses interpretations and identifications encouraged by language and image in relation to different temporalities. She uses translation and transformation and plays with formats and rituals to fabricate and perceive art in a broader sense and meaning. Sabahi’s recent projects address the rituals and formats of production, distribution and consumption of cultural goods.
“In the flipping pages of the book, a man signs three words ‘I’, ‘Love’ and ‘Man’ in two different orders. Depending on how the book is held in hand, he signs either ‘Man I Love’ or ‘Man Loves I’. The signing is a re-enactment of Lutz Förster’s choreography for Gershwin brothers’ song ‘The Man I Love’ as a sign-language dance. The book flips from both ends in a loop of uncertainty prompting ‘(s)he loves me, (s)he loves me not’ game where chance speaks for the reciprocity of affection.”
“Product of Chohreh Fezdjou is not a product, but a volume of black air” Chen zen
What the work of Chohreh Feyzdjou (*Tehran, 1955 – Paris, 1996) is famous for, is the almost systematic use of black. Deep black, mysterious and disturbing, from a mixture of melted wax and black pigment or subtle black, nuanced, consisting of a coating of walnut.
These two types of black lay a veil of dust on the Products of and identify if not stigmatize the work. In the late 80s, the artist retrained her previous productions (drawings, paintings, found objects) in a single material / memory she started naming Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou, as from 1989 onwards. The Products form a coherent group and are organized into sets of identifiable letters and digits: a letter followed by a serial number and the year.
Homayoun Sirizi (*Kerman, 1981) works as an artist and critic based in Tehran. Sometimes, he displays his concerns about philosophy, politics and art in the gallery space. His works are mainly focused on the relation between the state, the capital and the social domain.
Keep Right, his latest piece, is commissioned by the CAB.
Behind one of the walls of the gallery, the sounds of weak poundings can hardly be heard. If decoded on the basis of the conventional communication system used by Iran’s political prisoners in the 80s, the sounds indicate the presence of someone on the other side of the wall.
Ahmad Aali (*Tabriz, 1935), a key figure in Iranian photography and painting from the 1960s and 70s, is renowned for his serial photographs of urban spaces. His photographs of city walls covered in graffiti illustrate his attention to the aesthetic of everyday spaces. In the years preceding 1978, when the whole country was in a state of upheaval, street facades were covered with slogans, some painted over with thousands of unexpected forms. Repetition is a recurring element in his works… repetition of a story, a shape and a meaning. while Aali’s work follows a formalistic mandate, the viewer who holds a memory of the slogans hidden beneath the retouch, can recall and relate to another dimension of these visual cues.
Due to his interventions in the subject, his work appears less as a form of documentation than as a search for aesthetic beauty.
Ahmad Aali, 1963
The visionary theater director and playwright Reza Abdoh (*Tehran, 1963 – New york, 1995) is present in the exhibition with the video ‘Hip-Hop waltz of Eurydice (1990)’ which was part of the play with the same name. I had the opportunity to see one of his memorable plays performed by his company Dar a Luz during their European tour in the early ‘90. I experienced Abdoh’s brilliant mix of theater, dance, video, film, performance and music, a post-modern assemblage of narratives and merge of cultural genres. He provided a multi layered analysis and combined different, often simultaneous critical positions on different forms of bias and sexual, political and cultural forms of repression within the same play.
Parastou Forouhar’s artworks almost always make a political point without ever relinquishing their aesthetic sovereignty. Her art represents a textile-like interweaving of contrasts. She often lets the gaze oscillate between the breathtaking beauty of the ornamental and the masked brutality underlying its symmetrical order. Even in her artistic representation of the most brutal exercise of political violence, the sensitive, the vulnerable, and that which is in need of protection takes centre stage. She is a master of grief and play. Her works seem to say: see how beautiful and seductive loss can be made to look. Parastou Forouhar presents this precarious condition with an ease and joy that is at the same time touching and dizzying.
Dr. Shulamit Bruckstein
Barbad Golshiri is an artist, critic, and tombstone maker. His media vary from video, installation, photography and documented performance to comic books and critical writing. He is also a translator and editor of Samuel Beckett’s dramatic works in Persian. Most of his works are language-based and contend with art and literature’s plane of the feasible; with the impossibility of quitting the possible field of expression; with the aporia of expressing not to express. He has described his major approach towards plastic and visual arts as ‘Aplasticism’, a plasticism that tends towards sightlessness; a visual art that nullifies the visual perception and yet still remains a plasticism. Golshiri has also been portrayed as a critic of the current socio-political situation in Iran, of the hegemony of the new art market of the region and of the living doxas.
Arash Hanaei, (*Tehran, 1978) is based in Paris. with a background in graphic design and photography, Hanaei has mainly been focussing on digital drawing in his latest series. while concentrating on the paradoxes between the imagery and slogans of our era and giving them a sarcastic look, Hanaei recreates actual events and reproduces images found in mass media or online sources.
His latest piece Behesht-e Zahra (from the Capital series) was commissioned by the CAB.
Shirdel’s films are regarded important references for social documentary and filmmaking in Iran.
After his extensive studies in Rome, Shirdel returned to Tehran in 1965 and started directing documentaries for the Ministry of Culture and Art. Over the next three years, he directed his most renowned socio-political documentaries. In these six films Shirdel revealed a hidden and darker side of Iran’s economic boom, analysing the effects of a society flushed with oil money. These films were steeped in a deep social consciousness reminiscent of the Italian Neo-realist tradition, the cinema that had influenced him during his studies in Rome. Shirdel’s incisive documentaries and cinematic language were heavily contested during the Shah’s regime, because they brought attention to the underprivileged and exposed the corruption of the mechanism of power.
BAKTASH SARANG JAVANBAKTH
Experiencing various media, ranging from photography to sculpture or print and drawing, he has been mostly engaged in a biographical approach and in the construction of a personal archive.
“The turning pages of my books mark the passing of time, and I observe how things change.
Our desires are insatiable… Different desires turn in circles, and at the same time, their story ends with a metamorphosis. The red book is engaged in these two circles, turning simultaneously in two different and inverse directions. Each circle thus annuls the movement of the other, and yet, there is an infinite movement.
I was immersed in these circles and in order to break out, I set out to travel throughout Iran. I began by visiting various chelleh khanehs. Traditionally, chelleh khanehs are designed to bring people closer to God and to purify them. Believers stay in these small dark rooms for 40 days, where there is no space to stand up or to lie down, and thus remain seated and continuously pray.
After this experience of closure, I visited the vast open mountains to work on the black book, spending days and nights wandering through dark and unknown trails, without seeing or speaking to anyone. This retreat allowed me to break out of the circles and to observe the mechanisms of desire from the outside looking in. This book is inspired by Rilke’s poetry, which tells of black clad monks who lived in a monastery many years ago.
And then there’s the golden book without pages, containing only an image of a cube on the golden ground. This simple shape, which represents the sacred, allows one to decipher the true system of the circles and their continuous movement. It is a sensitive system, delicate and fragile, like the rustling of leaves in the wind.”
Mani Mazinani is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. He has produced work using various media, ranging from video, installation, music and painting to photography, printmaking, performance, film and sound.
Mazinani thinks about thinking. In his work, he records thoughts with the intention to cause a transfer of concentration. He is interested in the nature of things and in the metaphysical bridge between perception and reality. In his multidisciplinary practice, Mazinani directs attention to the physicality and logic of his subject medium in order to make things available for understanding. Here, the ancient philosophy and contemporary concerns intersect to create experimental environments for the audience.
MONIR SHAHROUDY FARMANFARMAIAN
The work of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian occupies a pivotal role in the history of modern and contemporary art in Iran and far beyond. Consequently, she is the central figure in the exhibition at the CAB, where she is present with four works, spanning the period from 1970 till now.
Throughout her career, which seriously started in the 60’s, Shahroudy’s artistic practice consisted of a unique dialogue between local Iranian motifs and a personal interpretation of different forms of international late modernist art. In that respect she is in the first place renowned for her geometric mirror-works, which she developed from the late 60’s onwards. However, she is proficient in many other domains such as drawings, sculptures, collage, assemblage, etc. Being fascinated by the ancient Iranian mirror-mosaics dating back to the sixteenth century, she decided to incorporate these motifs and techniques into her practice: ‘I came home from Shiraz fired up with ideas, determined to bring the mirror mosaics into my own work.’ Shahroudy composes her fascinating mirror-sculptures out of a number of complex polygons, which she subsequently shapes with a range of geometric forms. The choice of these motifs and patterns is not incidental, as Shahroudy clearly resorts to ancient Islamic culture and Sufi iconography in particular: ‘I read upon Sufi cosmology and the arcane symbolism of shapes, how the universe is expressed through points and lines and angles, how form is born in numbers and the elements lock in the hexagon. I traced the logic of the great Iranian astronomers,…The artist transforms and decontextualizes this Sufi iconography and interweaves it with her interpretation of modernist visual languages: ‘The geometric patterns began to infiltrate my own art. I used them not quite faithfully but with a minimalist twist, relishing the clean, modern lines that appeared when the mathematical logic was distilled from the traditional designs’3 Shahroudy’s multifaceted sculptures mirror and diffract their context through complex manipulations of folding. Her mirror-structures encompass and reflect the onlooker and his surroundings, they record shards of an elusive and short-lived memory. In a way, the onlooker’s image is absorbed into a folded plane where it disappears, but at the same time it also defers and extends the reflection beyond the mirror. Paraphrasing Gaston Bachelard in ‘L’ eau et les rêves’: the fractured mirrors offer the possibility of an open imagination, they perpetuate beauty beyond the reflecting surface.