In the Currents Review in Art Practical’s 3.14 Issue Sidesplitting

Farhad Bahram. Reciprocality (2012); color photograph; 4 x 12 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

It has been too long since my last Shotgun Review for Art Practical! I wrote about In the Current show, which showcases some phenomenal Iranian artists! Below, you will find my write-up. Please enjoy and I highly recommend stopping by the exhibit. Enjoy!

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In the Currents, an exhibition of Iranian-American artists curated by Taraneh Hemami and Lucy Kalyani Lin, complicates and makes personal the ways in which Iran and Iranian culture are portrayed in much of Western media.

In Azin Seraj’s video installation, kaseye sabr labriz mishavad (bowl of patience, 2012), four Iranians speak about how their lives have been affected by the United Nations sanctions against Iran. Seraj layers the footage of the speakers with that of droplets of water filling a bowl, creating contorted and muddled images of the speakers, though their voices are clearly heard. Curiously, the visual rippling effect forces a viewer to concentrate on the intonation of words—even though only Farsi-speaking viewers are likely to understand them.

Farhad Bahram’s piece, Reciprocal Subject (2012), also complicates the view of its subjects. Like Seraj, Bahram empowers the subjects and makes them anonymous, but  they share in the creation of the work. Bahram and each subject simultaneously took pictures of each other in open public spaces, and Bahram arranged the resulting color photos on a board in an apparent order or system that mimics a scrapbook, with names appearing beside each photo. Each of the faces is partially obscured by a camera, frustrating any viewer’s desire to identify the subjects. The public spaces that serve as backdrops add an additional level of neutrality and anonymity. Still, there is a complicity that only exists between Bahram and each subject, leaving viewers curious about their relationship.

Another notable piece, Flag (2012), from Sanaz Mazinani’s series “Conference of the Birds,” uses photographic images to create a patterned flag reflective not of a particular region but of a specific idea. Her flag is rooted in solidarity as opposed to being grounded in a specific physical location. The repeated images coalesce to form a tightly knit pattern that creates a visual mesh of people, places, and cultures. Mazinani’s work, along with that of Seraj and Barham, blurs the expected lines of perception and demands that viewers participate in the act of seeing not only their works but also their culture.

IN THE CURRENTS IS ON VIEW AT THE ASIAN RESOURCE CENTER GALLERY, IN OAKLAND, THROUGH JUNE 15, 2012.

Original posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She serves as one of the editors-in-chief for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and SF MOMA's Open Space. She has lectured at the De Young museum, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She is currently a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fellow researching the concept of citizenship. She also serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism and board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center.

2 thoughts on “In the Currents Review in Art Practical’s 3.14 Issue Sidesplitting”

  1. It took me a while to figure out what ‘Reciprocity’ was all about (duuuh).But seriously, I know I’m missing the whole picture not actually looking at the piece itself.

    I was looking for Azin Seraj’s video installation, but missed that, too.

    If I were an art student I would say that the above three artworks are a definite must-see, as well as a definite must-do. It’s nice that young artists can teach us something through their art; not only because it’s relevant, but especially because it draws something out of us- that we understand a culture not as we see it, but as experienced by them.

    It bridges us closer together with gentle exhortation, inviting us to connect better and is part of an important aspect of being human.

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