Curated by Amirali Ghasemi
Featuring Naghmeh Abbasi, Mehraneh Atashi, Setareh Jabbari, Anahita Hekmat, Payam Mofidi, Shay Mazloom, Amirali Mohebinejad, Allahyar Najafi, Nassrin Nasser, Shadi Noyani, Ramin Rahimi, Shirin Sabahi, Sona Safaei, Bahar Samadi, Hamed Sahihi, and Zeinab Shahidi.
First presented at Iran via Video Curent, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York City, 13-17th December, 2011
If we ever meet again … can be considered an emotional endeavor at first glance, but if everything happens for a reason, not only threats of further sanctions, but the sound of war drumming is getting louder and louder, and are we expecting to see video works from a country which has been on the headlines for years and remain neutral and just? Is such a position still valid in the crucial time we live in? Well, that is another story…
It starts with Aleph, the first letter of the alphabet in the three languages: Persian, Arabic, and Hebrew, in the work of Sona Safaei, which is focused on the script, language, and its twists while crossing man-made borders. Moving toward Mehraneh Atashi‘s Gulistan (The Rose Garden), witnessing her take on the opening lines of the thirteenth-century poet Sa’adi’s Gulistan; her reiterative and restless attempts to recite it by heart overlays her personal story with distant parallels from literature to memory, including an approach to a piece of heritage that was hailed by the establishment of its time. Nassrin Nasser‘s fragile and illuminating Raining Ashes transport us toward an uncertainty of determination of roles and actions that many of us may be familiar with. Quite the opposite, Amirali Mohebbinejad‘s documentary-like approach in 27 Minutes to Go has its feet on the ground — in the late 2008 and early 2009, nearly everyone in Iran thought of going abroad and building a future for themselves… of course before the situation changed dramatically in 2009. Payam Mofidi‘s Sha’er Koshi (Poéticide) lingers over the moment of loss floutingly, leaving us puzzled over aspirations that can suddenly collapse.
Artificial Respiration by Zeinab Shahidi Marnani tries to rescue a recorded instant by offering an alternative life for it within a loop; whilst periodic flashbacks in The Iron Heel by Shadi Noyani unravel the three occurrences around the 1979 Revolution in the compact trilogy based on 8mm footage shot by her father. Apparition #1 & Apparition #5 by Anahita Hekmat, in her own words, “features children striving to interact with their surrounding environment and people.”
I have no plan, Allahyar Najafi’s bitter animation carries us on its watercolored train within a circle rail… as we are at the end, standing where we have started, a second flashback appears in Swede Home by Shirin Sabahi, who cleverly adopted the 8mm treasure shot by Jan Edman — a Swedish engineer who had worked in Iran ’60s and the ’70s — into a precious moment when the old man’s memory and his visual documentation meet again within the scenery documented by an amateur outsider.
For Bahar Samadi, narrating in the audio channel only is not just an experiment in Upwards, she creates a homologous channel, letting the viewer to bear the weight of time. In a diverted continuity of this train of thought, a cheerful crowd at the shore of the Caspian Sea does not notice the departure of another in Hamed Sahihi’s Sundown. Back in the city, Setareh Jabbari’s inordinary venture through Some Ways to Reach the Revolution (Sq.).
The Hidden Track is a part that usually comes as surprise at the end of an album, after a several minutes interval following the main track. The Red Thing by illustrator and filmmaker Ramin Rahimi is a tongue-in-cheek metaphor of the Iranian society’s reaction to its mundane realities, as it generously offers a cynical solution to them. Shay Mazloom, who just recently moved back to Tehran from Sydney, in her video performance The Blank Surface stands aside as words are being projected on her body — like life experience, they are ruling this bodily territory. The Hidden Track ends with Naghmeh Abbasi’s piece, The Widest Window, which playfully transforms a tent into a walking shadow that fades against the trees in a snowy landscape, and it is not even necessary to mention her wordplay in Persian, tent and veil.