Mohsen Gallery at Art Dubai contemporary 2017
Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh Road, Umm Suqeim, Exit 39 (Interchange 4) from Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
March 16-18, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 4-9.30pm | Friday, March 17, 2-9.30pm | Saturday, March 18, 12-6.30pm
For its inaugural participation in Art Dubai, Mohsen Gallery is pleased to present commissioned works by Iranian artists Mojtaba Amini and Mehdi Abdolkarimi. In two new large-scale installations, the artists consider how we are interpellated by matter, at scales ranging from the monumental through to the molecular. There is an elegiac quality to the booth: it sings a quiet dirge both for bygone civilisations, and religiously-motivated violence in the present. Rather than attempt to find beauty in ruination, however, the artists re-enact the same symbolic violence that led to the destructions of Palmyra and the Bamiyan Buddhas.
In Abdolkarami’s photo installations, a composite image of historical Iranian buildings, which reference the architectures of dynasties past, are printed onto wooden panels. Through fragmentation—the artist dubs his process “action sculpting”—the coherence of the whole is shattered; what emerges is a kind of postmodern corps exquis, with a kind of sympathetic magic at play. Abdolkarami’s distortions and manipulations of scale serve to diminish both Iran’s once glorious past and the government that works hard to project this nostalgic narrative.
Violence is similarly writ large in Amini’s practice, which explores the transformative legacies of brute force. Often grotesque in their genocidal intimations of charred bodies, his works can be difficult to encounter. They are poignant reminders of how objects can become receptacles of violence, in the same way that transgenerational trauma lodges itself in the body. Amini’s columnar installation has a darkly visceral, animalistic quality: glue, sheep skin, and camel wool are juxtaposed with woods and metals that in turn suggest the degraded scaffolding of society. Despite the desecration, the installation invokes the inviolable sanctity of even the most decimated of ruins.
What puts the pieces in conversation is the value they ascribe to a civilisation whose material vestiges have today virtually disappeared. Yet as a whole, its legacy still thrives in its parts, reflecting the thoughts, feelings, and dreams of past generations. Having suffered through a litany of atrocities, assaults, and cruelties, the remains are ghastly, but definitely not extinct.