Mohsen Gallery is delighted to announce works by four Iranian photographers across two generations, Mehrdad Afsari (b. 1977), Gohar Dashti (b. 1980) Alireza Fani (b. 1975) and Arya Tabandehpoor (b. 1985), as part of the inaugural edition of PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai from September 8-10, 2017. The exhibition can be found at Stand …. or the duration of the fair.
Culture and identity in a society can be represented in art and the meanings intertwined with it. In this sense, art is the interface for transferring meaning and identity to people and the future generations. In Persia, gardens are a sign of Iranians’ honor and admiration of nature and its significant elements such as water and trees. Persian gardens are not only about geometries and shapes, but also the manifestation of different design elements, each representing a specific symbol alongside design qualities such as hierarchy, symmetry, centrality, rhythm, and harmony.
The garden in the sense of “home,” as represented in Gohar Dashti’s recent series with the same name (2017), is a unique place for privacy, socializing, and sensual connections to nature; these activities can be understood as negotiations and practices to address the social and environmental paradoxes of contemporary life. With similar fictionalized stories, Gohar Dashti’s “Home” and Citelli and Bretzel’s “Capsula Mundi,” aim to replace people with plants, one in abandoned indistinctive places and the other in cemeteries.
Motivated by the perpetual environmental decline in his large-scale photographic series “Years Long Gone” (2016), Mehrdad Afsari visualize such issues in order to raise awareness, elicit concerns and emotions, and ultimately affect human behavior. “A picture is worth a thousand words” they say, and perhaps that is why it becomes a tool for change in the hands of photographers. With a proactive approach, Afsari turns his lens toward nature to make images that will “work” toward the protection of the subject he is shooting, aiming at our denial about the real state of the nature. As such, this kind of photography is inherently political. It is both art and activism.
The way we influence our environment and our lives reflects our attitude and our way of thinking. Likewise, Alireza Fani’s “A Memorial for Today” series is a reflection on how we pass our days and spend our most private moments in utter passivity: a chronic passivity we have apparently invited of our own accord. Failed to maintain our way of life, our acceptance of this passive lifestyle has led us to turn a blind eye on other alternatives, taking them for granted. People in this series—single, coupled, or in group—exhausted of something unknown, have been frozen everywhere: at home, in restaurants or art galleries. The apathetical spaces and lack of movement and interaction with the others and surroundings intensify the silence and stillness, inviting us to focus on figures exclusively.
Arya Tabandehpoor’s “Bone” series (2017) addresses the gradual loss we experience on a daily basis. Camouflaged at times, we avoid this bitter confrontation and realization by redacting the notion altogether. “Bone” is a collection of life-size portraits of people, or their present status, woven into pictures of soil, depicting their future: death! Tabandehpoor displays a shredded and woven version of life and death: if life is warp, death is weft, inseparable entities that create existence. Loss is a macrocosmic concept for the artist that encompasses death, emigration, deforestation and so forth. He sees death as decay or loss of skin, flesh, and bone that can be elusive to people swamped with daily routines. Without being sharp and clear-cut, photographs are camouflaged, either appearing gradually or fading away before our eyes. With an undertone of loss, they offer a unique experience of photography.