Spheres of Influence

Curated by Lila Nazemian
April 15  —  May 11, 2016
-1 × UndergroundGF × Ground Floor

Spheres of Influence: Codes & Conduct across Structural Landscapes
Curated by Lila Nazemian

Mohsen Gallery is pleased to announce “Spheres of Influence: Codes and Conduct across Structural Landscapes,” a group show curated by Lila Nazemian running from April 15th to May 11th, 2016, featuring works by Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Arwa Al Neami, Wafaa Bilal, Lamya Gargash, and Ahmed Mater.
An illustrated catalog with essays by artist, curator, and Prof. Amirhosein Bayani, philosopher Ashkan Salehi and artist and Prof. Behrang Samadzadegan, will accompany the exhibition.
By examining structures that reflect specific cultural moments in history, the show intends to explore the ways in which certain social behaviors are shaped, conveyed, and embedded in both physical and intangible spaces. Through their work, the artists, who hail from Arab countries neighboring Iran, reveal various nuances in the stability and fluidity of such contexts at specific historical junctures. Ultimately, such systems are also linked to cultural identity and are intrinsic in shaping ways in which peoples define one another. In Wafaa Bilal’s “Ashes” series, the artist takes large-scale photographs of meticulously constructed maquettes based on reportage images of destruction in Baghdad following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq revealing purposefully dilapidated spaces that stood as symbols of the former regime. Ahmed Mater’s “Deserts of Pharan” series addresses questions of preservation and the shifting identity of religious, historical, and political capital in the holy city of Mecca due to extensive construction. Surrounded by official warnings forbidding particular social behaviors while at a theme park in Saudi Arabia, Arwa Al Neami covertly documents women’s experiences on rides in videos from her “Never Never Land” series. Integrating his iconic aesthetics of performative landscape photography in his “K-Files,” Tarek Al-Ghoussein illustrates the integrated relationships between built structures displaying states of power and influence. In the “Al Sawaber” project, he explores the decrepit remains following the rapid and forced evacuation of hundreds of residents in the once prominent governmental housing complex by the same name. In her “Majlis” series, Lamya Gargash documents various Emirati interiors depicting sitting areas for entertaining as ubiquitous parts of everyday life to reveal certain dictated spatial formalities of such social settings. While Iran’s currently evolving position in the Middle East is at a decisive moment in history, the artists included perspectives from various countries engaged in loaded relationships with the Iranian nation. Nevertheless, the emphasis is not political but social, intended to complicate and expand the views of an Iranian audience towards its neighbors and to challenge preconceived notions based on controlled pervasive narratives

About the Curator:
Lila Nazemian is the Curatorial and Special Projects Associate at Leila Heller Gallery in New York City. She received a BA in History from Scripps College in California, and an MA in Near Eastern Studies with a focus in performance and ethnomusicology from the NYU in New York. She has written for online and print publications such as Flavorpill and Tribe Magazine and has curated group shows in Jersey City, NJ; Detroit, MI; and Tehran, Iran.