Phototrope

Sasan Abri
October 11  —  November 1, 2019
-1 × Underground

Hope is a potential feeling when things are not obvious or near. Sometimes, hope is looking forward to the realization of something abstract. Hope seeks the possibility of continuity in the midst of an uncertain situation, on the road to being, becoming, and moving on. Sasan Abri’s exhibition, “Phototrope,” consists of three series: “Sundays,” “Phototrope,” and “Expedition.” In all these series, Abri turns days into spectacles, making flowers and people simultaneously corporeal and ethereal. He transforms the relative notion of hope into visual improvisations.

Using his laborious photographic printing technique, Abri recounts the mortality of humankind and the immortality of memories. With its passionate, impressionistic flowers, “Sundays” has a rebellious, painterly spirit, while retaining its photographic quality. The collective body of the flowers of the “Sundays” series cherish “the moment” in the face of inevitable “decay.” The juxtaposition of the dark background with the warm, cold colors of the foreground alludes to the contradictions and finite characteristics of the flow of life. As each Sunday ends, another Sunday will come to take its place. And so it goes.

In most of his series, Sasan Abri deals with urban spaces. The locations could be anywhere. Sasan Abri’s drawing-like photographs of the “Phototrope” series are the result of his everyday improvisations and flânerie in an urban context among the people. Neither people are central to the images, nor has the quality of the camera any significance. No historical reference or collective event is accentuated. These photographs are unvarnished fragments from different corners of the city, depicting an amalgamation of the city’s physical structure and people’s interaction with it. Abri’s blurry representation of his everyday meanderings and the way these spaces are transposed from the dark film onto the white paper is analogous to organizing the small pieces of enormous whole. It is like making an effort to consolidate and recall scattered memories and making them tangible.

“Expedition” is also about the city. What makes it different from Abri’s previous series, such as “Exposed” and “The Dormant Yellow,” is the wandering people who have turned their backs on the camera in total disregard of its presence. The narratives of these Polaroid images are spontaneous with an improvisatory quality. Using camera and certain techniques, the images are blurred: two slices of one scene, one day, and the passing of one person happen simultaneously. Each frame contains two images that are separate and continuous at the same time. They are set on an uneven, distorted, and scrapped background like that of a deformed city or neighborhood. To the artist, the stories of the Polaroid and the photographic process are analogous to a game: your victory or defeat becomes apparent in the details of the photographs only after the films are processed.

Series