“Untitiled for Bijan and Manijeh” is a site-specific installation, created by Iman Safaei for Pasio of Mohsen Gallery. Created in a space that is 220 cm wide, 350 cm long, and about 7 m high, the work is consisted of several big spindle-shaped volumes, set vertically, alternatively, and symmetrically, suspended in the center of the space, surrounded by columns that rise from the hexagonal base. The columns support 40 metal frames, on each of which one verse is carved, with pores for the white neon lights to pour out of the frames. Safaei has selected these forty verses from Bijan and Manijeh, the famous love story in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, and attached them to the work’s structure. The entrance is a 155 cm high corridor that the viewer has to bend to pass through, similar to the entrance of a mosque or an ancient altar.
Bijan and Manijeh is the story of enduring the pain of loneliness, caused by the opportunism or imprudence of one’s own self or others—duplicity, self-deception, malice, or smugness. Bijan, the Persian warrior, is tempted and deceived by Gorgin, his own companion, to cross Iran’s border to the enemy’s territory. Achieving victory and on the way back, he falls madly in love with Manijeh, who rashly smuggles him into the private chambers of the enemy, Afrasiab, her father. Eventually, when Afrasiab learns of the affair, he banishes Manijeh into the wilderness, and throws Bijan into a dark pit. But Rostam comes to the rescue and pulls Bijan up from the depths, and together with Manijeh, they return home.
Safaei’s work is like a pit that imprisons both Bijan and Manijeh with the chains of loneliness. Bijan is confined in the darkness of the pit, with Manijeh above it. More than being a recount of the epic, Safaei’s narration is the account of man’s relationship with himself, his environment, the world, and others. As though it is a geometrical order that, through repetition and proliferation, has turned into a ruling system, which is also vague and abstract; a system in which words turn into a lines and threads, lose their meanings; where light does not illuminate the eye, but brings about confusion. It is a narration that is spun and twisted like threads around a spindle all over the structure.