Artist questioning Iranian revolution through phallic imagery
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Edalatkhah primarily focuses on the political discourse and status quo in the revolutionary era of the late 70s.Hossein Edalatkhah is questioning the phallocentric Iranian politics and media discourse in his first solo exhibition in Istanbul, which features a selection from the artist’s works made over the last three years. The exhibition entitled “Truth or Dare” opened March 18 at CDA Projects and includes mixed-media paintings and sculptures.
Edalatkhah primarily focuses on the political discourse and status quo in the revolutionary era of the late 70s. Born in 1979, the year that Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was driven out of country to be replaced by the Islamic rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Edalatkhah’s works reflect the traumatic effects of this political background, showing the same mullah figures with recurrent phallic imagery.
The combination of recurrent Safavid floral designs and phallic imagery take their metaphoric source from the popular Iranian line: “in the revolution’s meadows, roses and tulip grow.” The quote is from one of the songs of revolution chanted during the rallies against the Pahlavi regime that triggered the revolution at the time. The line is also visibly seen as the headline of a media report about the rallies, in the paper print background of Edalatkhah’s work entitled “A La Mode.”
This work shows a Louis Vuitton tote bag filled with spears and a shotgun, overt phallic symbols that satirize the terminology used in linguistic representation of revolution, which eventually resorts to use of brute force and sheer violence, despite the political justifications formulated in a collectivist discourse quoting “public demand.” This is the case with another headline on the paper background that reads “millions demand an Islamic rule.” The work functions in the whole show like a binding metaphor in poetry, and the exhibition is indeed very poetic in terms of its method of meaning-construction through calculated use of symbolism and imagery.
Edalatkhah deftly combines social, political, historical, sexual and religious themes in his works. He lives a divided life between the three cities of Istanbul, London and New York, and refrains from keeping an official website to avoid conflicts with his home country.
“But what amazes me most about my work is whenever I hold a show in Tehran, I sell out. Maybe there are others as angry as I am,” he says.
“Truth or Dare” runs through April 8.