Behrang Samadzadegan / Majnun Deceased at Layli’s Camp

Behrang Samadzadegan

“…did not assume paradise to be a place that could be discovered. There were no maps that could be discovered. There were no maps that could lead a man to it, no instruments of navigation that could guide a man to its shores. Rather, its existence was immanent within man himself: the idea of a beyond he might someday create in the here and now. For utopia was nowhere—even […] in its ‘wordhood.’ And if man could bring forth this dreamed-of place, it would only be by building it with his own two hands.” —Paul Auster, City of Glass

Images claim to be versions of the truth. Yet, “truth is singular and its versions are mistruth.” How would images represent the lived history that includes wisdom and ignorance? Also, how would a virtual image become mans’ ideal to attain Utopia? In the way to achieve this virtuality, how do we respond to an existence that is loaded with memories? How do we handle the distance between the present and the past? And how do we tackle the losses that are inevitable results of that distance?
In my ongoing project, “Heading Utopia,” I consider humanity’s failure in self-constructed situations, to which they are emotionally attached. The attachment ranges from romantic hopes, anticipation of change, and self-improvement in emotional relations, to aspiration to political, historical, and societal revisions, to even hoping in art as a context for justification and the redemption of truth.
Drawing inspiration from themes of Iranian stories and miniatures, such as Cenmar and Majnun, and fusing them into my interpretation of a Kafkaesque structure, in both content and process, I place myself in Kafkaesque situations. In this way, the content leads to the individual’s alienation from the space in which he or she is placed; a commentary on dishevelment and chaos that results from absurd bureaucracy, despairing of seeking to function in autocrat, vague systems, and the vain pursuit of unachievable goals and unfulfilled promises. In a similar fashion, in the process of the work, I pursue the hierarchy and systems that manipulate information and awareness; systems such as politics, aesthetics, and history that are capable of empting or sterilizing a text. Thus, they can create absurd hierarchies that turn into agents of perpetual confusion, obscuring a way to record and articulate the truth. This system and process can also dominate the mechanism of creating a work of art, in which there is no way of achieving a goal or fining the path to redemption. Instead, one can only seek a new method, a new juxtaposition, and, in effect, a new hope to find a way out of confusion and crisis. This is how I can relate the process of creating art to my lived experience.

Behrang Samadzadegan, “Majnun Deceased at Layli’s Camp”, from “Heading Utopia” series, watercolor on cotton paper, 128 x 180 cm, frame size: 131 x 182 cm, 2020