Iranian show criticizes key political problems

Iranian show criticizes key political problems

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Iranian show criticizes key political problems

Each of the six artists, all born and based in Iran, is dealing with one problematical issue that occupies a key position in Iran’s political agenda.

A selection of Iranian video art now on display at two exhibition venues owned by the Istanbul gallery Pi Artworks invites viewers to take a critical look at some major global political and analyze them from a peculiarly Iranian point of view.

“Rewind, Pause, Fast Forward: Mirrors on Iran” includes video works by Morteza Ahmadvand, Mahmoud Bakhshi, Pedram Baldari, Simin Keramati, Neda Razavipour and Farniyaz Zaker, and will run until Sept. 29. The exhibition is curated by Etemad Gallery, located in Dubai and Tehran.

Each of the six artists, all born and based in Iran, is dealing with one problematical issue that occupies a key position in Iran’s political agenda. However, all of the works manage to point to broader horizons and turn their critical take into a reflection of situations in other parts of the world. In his video titled “Simorgh,” Morteza Ahmadvand starts off with an Iranian Sufi story about birds in search of Simorgh (a magical bird from Persian mythology), in which only some strong birds achieve their goal in the end.

The video shows three groups of birds in one cage. One group is made up of wild birds that have never known captivity. The other group consists of wild birds that have experienced caged life, and were then released to nature, and the third group is domestic birds that have lived in cages all their lives. The video is an observation of the behavioral patterns of these three different types of birds in one cage, the door of which is open. Which ones will be able to find their way out of the cage to freedom? How many of them will come back? How long will it take each different type of bird to find their way out? Ahmadvand’s work is an attempt to challenge the audience’s presuppositions about the notions of freedom, captivity and free will. In his “Military Service under the Flag” Mahmoud Bakhshi puts himself in the place of a soldier performing his military service.

The work dictates that the audience should watch the video through a hole in the gallery wall. The work becomes an experience for the viewer, who is invited to secretly spy on (or peep at) a soldier, as if gathering intelligence about life in the military. However, all the audience can see through the hole is one soldier meaninglessly repeating certain acts and gestures, which is what the work claims military life is about. Neda Razavipour’s two-channel video “Find the Lost One” invites the audience to play a game in which the goal is to find the lost figure on the right-hand screen. It’s a useless effort, however, because all of the people shown walking on the streets of Tehran are lost figures anyway. Farniyaz Zaker’s work “Puppet behind the Curtain” is also based on a similar comparison. The work draws an analogy between veils and windows, despite their seemingly opposite relationships to displaying the female body, in order to point out their similar role in turning the female body into an object before the male gaze. Pedram Baldari’s “Fatiha” (an Islamic word that comes from two chapters of Quran) exposes a religious ritual in a critical context. In “School Diary,” Simin Keramati addresses the concept of school as “a safe place to have fun and to learn the basics” in light of violence.