“What happens to the environment when human populations are displaced or destroyed by war?” Gohar Dashti asks us. She remarks that people are transient, while Nature us a constant, immutable quantity. We quite understandably tend to focus on the human cost when a country is gutted by war; yet it is notable that when massive population shifts occur, the physical landscape remains behind. When we speak about destroying a country, we are necessarily referring to its inhabitants, its human-made infrastructure. Nonetheless, says Dashti, “Nature will be here long after we are all gone.”
In Dashti’s work the world is an alien landscape in which we are at home, or a home in which we find ourselves alien. The pinballs of contradictory truths are set pinging in our heads, triggering a host of associations, from the visceral to the intellectual, as we recognize ourselves at the heart of these images, an lurking impossibly just outside the frame. The contradictions continue to swirl in us; the work awakes currents, weather systems of conflicting thought patterns, emotion. The violence done to nature is beautiful; the beauty of nature is violent. We crush the flower to enjoy its essence, we make a distillation, alter of roses, feast on the beauty of ending things.