|Iranian Video Art as an Exclusive Advance
|Video art enjoys an original literature in Iran. Video artists combine many different ways of using video equipments in order both to create and to record a variety of artistic expressions. This present collection covers a wide spectrum of styles and approaches towards the concepts of life, individual dilemmas, and social affairs.|
Video art and video art practitioners
Since the turn of the century, most video art practitioners in Iran have come to this medium via other art forms: painting (Khosro Khosravi), graphic arts (Ebrahim Haghighi), photography (Maryam Niazadeh), film (Abbas Kirostami and Dariush Mehrjui), or conceptual and performance art (Barbad Golshiri, and Neda Razavipour).
Beyond the simple recording of an event or the use of TV equipment to make literal, ironic, or parodic statements, there is an enormous range of possibilities in using the video screen as a canvas, "painting" on it with professional video equipment and various special devices, some of them run by computer.
The vacant port in the shore of life, in Khosro Khosravis The Port (2004), describes the border between the sea horizon and us, a port to observe things; a small hatch for us to glance through the life beyond. It is a metaphor on our history and time where borders Persia from the Northerners; and modern Iranians are their successors. As in a painting, the port depicts our knowledge from time and position, race and tribes, us and a vague future, presented with the kid, his dog, his return, the sea waves, his running into people in different social classes, and the epic poetry of Ferdowsi: all are motifs of our spontaneous perceptions.
Applying the same approach, Rozita Sharaf-Jahans Deepression (2004) portrays the frame where time halts, everything stops, there is no way to go and nothing to hear, images fade. There is only a will, in which the character goes in the very depth and rises unwillingly.
Video art has always been a product of what the available equipment allowed artists to do. With the very small, from lightweight 8-mm camcorders to hi-tech DVD equipments and the graphics and animation capabilities of home computers, Iranian artists today (from the 22-year-old Barbad Golshiri to the 55-year-old Ebrahim Haghighi) can own many of the tools needed to produce a new generation of work in video art.
Language and techniques
Iranian video art, in its simplest manifestations, provides videotaped documents of musical and dramatic performances, of performance art, of on-the-street happenings, or even of self-portraits in motion of the artist at work. In this kind of usage, the video camera performs the same function, as a motion picture camera, except that the resulting videotape can be shown on a television receiver immediately after it is shot, allowing performers, for example in Farshad Fadaians Borders (not included in this collection), to see their work in progress. Videotape editing and the addition of special effects are usually done in the artist's studio, using relatively inexpensive and easily available video devices. Having a different attitude toward video installation, a sculpture of The Seated Woman (by Neda Razavipour, 2002) of semi-transparent material in its original video installation form (here presented as a video piece) can be seen with her face: hands and bag show still and animated pictures. Pictures expose her thoughts and fantasies, a moment of her life.
This exhibition presents a broad range of techniques and artistic ideas, from the use of abstract special effects (Sun Alphabets by Maryam Niazadeh) to documentary and narrative themes (Stranger by Amaneh Zohreh Eskandari). Techniques range from primitive black-and-white images (What Has Befallen Us, Barbad? by Barbad Golshiri) to sophisticated, polished work in full colour (Through the Small Gates of Loneliness by Simin Keramati).
With The Stranger, Ameneh Zohreh Eskandari introduces colour and value as visual elements. She notes: In the beginning there was a shadow, the shadow whispered and stepped in a journey so that it could play the music of its soul. It walked everywhere gazing upon everything; to anything, which existed. The ray of its glance was changed into the colour of its imagination. It made the colours move. The existence rose as a floating flag under its footsteps. All things became as an imagination entirely, farther than the shadow spreading on it.
Poetic and Social Approaches on Hi-tech Equipments
Social Activism and political life. As this new medium is developing in Iran, documentary makers, social activists, and community groups are using the same small, lightweight video equipment. Some equipments are made available through cable TV public access centres, as well as centres supported by government funds and private foundations. In our day, many video artists have grown up with television and known its techniques and much about its technology. It may be the same as broadcast television, or their own invention. Ebrahim Haghighis ABC TV (2001) is a parody of the 20th century remarkable phenomenon, a dream-box called Television. This world-depicting wonder has already captured humankinds free time in full, metamorphosed our soul, and evacuated us from sense and sensation. In addition, the professional and challenge-making television-hosts present wars as they do with soap operas and TV quizzes. Catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan are as quickly glanced as when talking about German football team scoring Italy. Broadcasting a television show, news is by far ignored; American bombardments in Iraq and Afghanistan are simply reviewed just like giving the recipe for a Thanksgiving reunion: Here we are, dinners ready!
What Has Befallen Us, Barbad? (2002), by Barbad Golshiri, had totally severed the artists ties with abstract reason, to criticise his previous self. The use of happening and the reference to action painting and its process of creation, Jackson Pollock in particular, in a body art work show the separation from his past abstract works, especially regarding the underlying socio-political idea and the fact that the use of Pollock and action painting is not a formalistic one. The title is taken from a short story by this name written by Houshang Golshiri [the artists father], where a small boy who has witnessed what has been done to his father in the regimes prison, stops talking and instead draws childish but horrifying paintings. My name is taken from that boy and also my life, Barbad Golshiri, now twenty-two, says I had a job in a governmental newspaper, writing art criticism. In those days, my hair was long and because of that, they refused to give my salary. Needing money for making my light boxes, I decided to record the problem itself as a part of the process of making art. Cutting my hair was to making my art and at last cutting my hair became the art itself. On the other hand, this piece is about my Faustian experience that I am loosing not just my soul but also my body for my art. The logic of Body Art and the reason of cutting my hair reinforced this idea.
Persian Mysticism and modern poetry. Tazieh (literary, mourning rituals) commemorates the heroic deeds of the third Shiite Imam and his disciples at Karbala, gave rise to Pardeh-Khani, an Islamic art in which a storyteller gives an account of the suffering of the Imam and his relatives by pointing to the figures on a painting hanging on a wall. Morteza Darehbaghis Tazieh: A Modern View is a new variation on an old theme, first displayed at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (2003), using video art as vehicle.
Presenting Persian mysticism, Line (2003) portrays a desert symbolising the gap between individuals, who see, follow, run, dance, and move in each their dreams. The video captures two persons in parallel time and direction, following each other, presenting an imaginative love in a virtual space.
On my first trip to south eastern Iran, I havent brought my camera. Photography needs relaxation and it to be made at home, Maryam Niazadeh explains about her Sun Alphabets (2004), We were on the road, and I was looking around; cement wire stands and black wires have become a part of our nature, the faint sun was pacing with us, and there was wind My camera was in lowlight position. I look at the LCD monitor, things changed. My tool showed something quite different: something new in nature. Nature has always had its ambiguous conception. Sometimes I dream of nature as something which can be only conceived through technical equipments.
Seifollah Samadians The White Station (1999), featured in Documenta 11, is shot from his high-rise apartment building in Tehran. The White Station is more austere poetic statement, a filmic haiku which focuses on a lone woman in black chador in an unprecedented snowstorm that covers Tehran. Her dark silhouette stands out against the white background, as she wrestles with a dark umbrella in the driving snow while she is waiting for the bus. There is no dialogue. Samadian uses direct sound: here sounds of crows and the wind are counterpointed by city noises muffled in the snow.
Simin Keramati describes her poetic feelings, in her Through the Small Gate of Loneliness (2004), in a short poem of her: Through the small gate of loneliness I have been hanged and from all glances of lie running away I want to whisper my wishes through the ears of wind the wind runs away from the vibration of my throat I want to create the flying of my own I want to touch the descending voice of my own I want to placed in the huge hands of being resemble to a waiting fetus I have been floated through the small gate of loneliness
|December 21 and 22 - 2004|
Piazza di Porta San Giovanni 10