The two-man photo show by Vahid Dashtyari and Mehdi Khandan is about alternative photographic processes, namely gelatin silver and cyanotype, to record reality: One is seeking to recover the lost spirit of photography and revert something fake to its original form, while the other is searching for the lost soul of the city, changing something authentic to a counterfeit.
Mehdi Khandan’s “Like No Other” series signifies a critical juncture where people interact with each other as well as with symbols and places in the city of Tehran, in which subjects, discouraged by daily dealings, evade the logic of urban life, while they seek to control and simultaneously keep their distance as they roam around the city. In these photographs, the artist has neither selected urban signs and symbols nor well-known buildings: what he depicts are words in the public arenas and ordinary boards and banners that carry the symbolic weight of the city while they have lost their significance. There are traces of these words and signs on every corner of the images. Mehdi Khandan illustrates the city as the source of a wealth of experiences through the challenging technique of a photographic process, reminding his audience of urban fantasies and desires in a state of caesurae, dishevelment, and transience. The series is the result of the photographer’s wanderings on a motorcycle with a camera attached to its bumper, capturing photographs in certain intervals. He introduces a game of decoding in the context of the city that is rooted to his personal experiences of spaces and words. The observer’s confined field of vision represents a vile, covert perspective in frail shades of blue with the subjects having no desire to go while they do not seem to be willing to go back.
In his “The Pencil of Lie” series, Vahid Dashtyari seeks to find the lost spirit of authenticity in photography and highlight the photography’s uniqueness to images that seem to be banal, bogus, and stale. The title alludes to Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, emphasizing the vanity of Instagram images. Even though the photos that the users of social networks post on the virtual space are characterized by a certain time and place, they are at the same time devoid of them. Being double-tapped, shared, and reposted numerous times in the unreal context of the digital world, these images no longer possess that unique and authentic spirit of photography. “The Pencil of Lie” is searching for lost spirit, making use of a photographic process to return to the photography’s origins.
The everyday life and going through urban spaces as well as the experience of wandering in virtual places are all caught in the cycle of mechanic reproduction, generating vain, unreal, and unavailing products.