Connections of another Form
In the first glace, the “Achilles heel” of the second solo exhibition of Arya Tabandehpoor lacks connection among the three collections presented. The three collections are apparently different in meaning and disconnected in view of expressive form. If not, and if we intentionally ignore the need or needlessness to such a connection, the question on the coherence and connection of the three collections would be undoubtedly the main question to answer. And if we do not suffice to the artist’s response to this question, finding (the existence or lack of) a connecting link among the three collections will be a “Rosetta Stone” for decoding the works presented in Tabandehpour’s second exhibition.
As a young artist and photographer, like rare artists of his generation, in these collections he violates the ordinary and classic rules of photography and avoids using explicit frames. Although such violation of rules has trespassed modernist media boundaries and the mere loyalty to photography, the works are more or less photographic in nature. Many artists of Tabandehpoor generation have used this violation of rules as a shortcut (with or without a reason) to keep in touch with the circumstances of the contemporary art of photography. It is a type of photography introduced amidst the 70s crises that can be traced in a broader context as art. It is a type of photography that might not be photography and photographic in its elitist form, but it is completely recoverable in artistic structures that according to David Company, has been increasingly photographic since 60s. Such photographic tendency has previously taken its influence from impressionist to surrealist artists, but it is clearly and openly used by pop artists and conceptualist artists. Therefore, it is not improbable that the found pictures in “Slides” collection, significance of the role of the incidents, and the flickering lights of the broadcast units because of the dead batteries remind us (and probably take roots from) Dadaist artists and more specifically Neo-Dadaists such as Robert Rauschenberg. Similarly, the collection of “Portraits” reminds us of the surrealist attempts from Man Ray’s photograms to Hans Bellmer’s montages and the collection of “Sleeps” reminds us of Andy Warhole’s experience of making feature and silent films (specially his “Sleep”, monitoring poet John Giorno) and even to some extent close to the intertwined bodies at Francis Bacon’s works. Putting these three collections together is apparently incoherent and illogical like putting the names of Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Hans Bellmer, and Andy Warhole on a single list, but the reality of this connection for those familiar with the influences and irrefutable use of photography by these artists, is of another form.
To understand such form of connection among the three collections of Tabandehpoor, it is not important to discover how the photographer objectively uses his camera, photo and photographing. The artist intends to challenge the three collections, either intentionally or unintentionally. In his “Slides”, he clearly cancels the role of the photographer and violates the process of artistic production of photos by the photographer himself. In his “Portraits”, the artist finds a way to fully sacrifice the objectivity of face and portrait photography – that according to Walter Benjamin it is the aura’s last gasp, where cult value resists transformation – for subjectivity, thus puts an end to the never-ending subjectivity-objectivity conflict in photography in favor of subjectivity. It is interesting to know that the artist’s use of criminology software and presenting the images of the known photography artists in Iran as criminal portraits reminds us of critical and reveling pieces by such renowned historians and critics as John Tagg, Allan Sekula, Soren Laulainen on ominous collaboration of photography with power and monitoring organizations (for instance, in Craniology and Physiognomy) and its severely ironic and critical resonance. Although we face suspension in the role of photographer in “Sleeps” like in the collection of “Slides” to some degree, the metamorphosis of body with abundance of digital noise becomes another factor for this collection to play a role in challenging purposes like the two previous ones, through playing with the time of photographing in the absence of photographer as well as highlighting the role of time by revamping the type of printing. This is where we return to the first question on the role of photography and it shows that Arya Tabandehpoor, however free from media boundaries of photography, is seriously involved in photo and photography. Now, it is with the viewer to see how much his involvement with photo and photography and his way of presentation have helped him use existing shortcuts to enrich works, get closer or take distance from the artists and photographers seeking production of contemporary work of art. In any case, the clear-cut answer to this question must be sought in his future works. The young artist in these three collections – either altogether or apart from one another – has shown well that an artist’s question from the media can still bring about creation of outstanding and noticeable works of art without direct reference or allusion to certain social concerns.