Sara Abri

Detached Connections

Communications, in the sense of human interactions, imparts open and hidden aspects of exerting force and control instead of balance, supervision instead of interaction, and misunderstanding instead of understanding . The message is conveyed from the sender to the receiver but meaning is never transmitted. Even in the “most immediate” forms of communication, the signified concept is always deferred, delayed, put off to interpretation. Therefore, in all interactions, the ground will be open for the formation of various interpretations on a linguistic sign, thus understanding the relationship between language and meaning, as a direct and one-to-one relationship, becomes highly challenging.  Sara Abri, in her various art collections and creations, has worked on various aspects of the factors that depict communications from simple transmission of a “message” between the “sender” and “receiver” to the most complicated conceptual grounds.  Such grounds as linguistic structures made of letters, voices and pictures were presented in her previous conceptualist installation art and voice collections – such as “Rough Sounds” – and telephone set, as one of the basic symbols of this communication, has been meaningfully used in the majority of her art collections.  It is an element adapted from the world around and personalized in the artwork to have a critical approach to and review of the real relationships via artistic expressions . The expanded dimensions of objects in Abri’s works remind us of the gigantic icons of popular culture in “public art” creations by the pop art artists in urban spaces.  In these works, an ordinary object is blown up and exaggerated to the point of defamiliarization from the routine form in a bid to specifically bring to light the forgotten functions and aspects of the object. In this collection, the object of telephone set, as one of the symbolic symbols of communication in modern-day world, is magnified in size  to find a symbolic and conceptual function and to impose its presence on the viewer.  In an interactive situation a dialog takes place between the viewers and via this object, someone speaks and another one hears, and the status of sender and receiver changes in intervals. In this situation the message is conveyed in its formal aspect without any additions or deletions, and apparently it is sent “exactly as it is”, while as far as meaning is concerned we face multi-layers and “chain of floating signifiers” instead of the signified.  It means the exactness of what we hear and what has been told happens in an ocean of floating signifiers despite plurality in meanings and disambiguation .  The words are transmitted but the signified meaning is never conveyed .  In continuation of the aforesaid concern on uncertainty of meaning, other collections of works, consider relations in sexualized structures. Pluralistic factors organize the significations of these relationships, but in societies like Iranian society sexual implications and sexuality – womanish sexuality in particular – are effectively taken as main factors in interpretation of the message of the sender.  Six works in this collection depict busts in which reproduction organs have been transformed to communication tools – telephone set. These works do not represent an immaculate, neutral and direct situation in formation and conveyance of meaning either. Sexual identity – as a sign of female body on which patriarchic society and culture imprint their whims and wishes – has a more pluralistic and non-signified context than the dominant notion that sees a direct relationship between women’s biology and their identity.  In the structure of patriarchic societies, however, gender becomes a key factor in formation of conceptual referrals and significations in communications.  When a woman is one party of a dialog, specially with a man as the other party, she is evaluated according to a gender approach and her communicative signs are interpreted according to certain

Mode.  In this collection, this reductive approach leads to down reduction and transformation of the  identity of the individual in relation with her sexual identity . Sexual organs are the only organs that speak because they have been transformed into telephone parts. These works, therefore, address the sexualized structure of social relations in a double-sided symbolic way, and at the same time, find a way toward emancipation. The collection has provided tools in a self-sufficient way for communication with oneself. All required tools for a telephone dialog have been placed inside the body organs – resembling a woman. The receiver, sender, speaker and hearer, all and all are placed inside the structure and active and efficient communication is made possible, not through interaction with the world, but through internal dialog of woman with her diversified aspects and self-assertiveness . Each one of these works portrays an aspect of social roles of “women” as beloved, wife, mother, etc.  The roles, in the meantime, are defined in connection to her relationship with the males and at the same time, in an autonomous way each work completes its internal relation with its role. Therefore, commemorating women’s autarky of internal and psychological life takes place in six complementary frames. The uncertainty along with plurality and referral in concepts, either in the realm of general communication between the speaker and listener or in critical approach to the certain role of sexual clichés in reception and interpretation, have been presented in Abri’s works within a greater generality, i.e. a frame, in which the works have been formed . And that frame is nothing other than the artist’s selected style who, putting behind painting, has found cubism and installation art an appropriate media for expression . The last but not the least point is related to the style of the work and a critical approach to the style . Generally speaking, the conceptual works are kept strong in view of idealistic aspect, and intentionally rigid and rational in terms of senses and sentiments. Therefore, looking at these works has to be different from looking at the non-conceptual works.  The hidden ideas in these works are important to some extent, since according to minimalist tradition, artists delegate part of the construction to the others in order to produce an artwork beyond handiwork. The ordinary aesthetics does not constitute the existential necessity of these works and the ultimate goal behind their production is not visual and sensual pleasure. These works are made with more or less conscious content and idea . As objects of thought, they are to make the viewer think about the concepts and subjects around him. The ultimate form comes out of these ideas. The conceptualist work of art tries to instigate the thoughts by setting forth challenges between the familiar existing concepts. This is to help the artwork play a role in the real world, to use and own its elements, to review the power relations and to determine new intellectual frameworks . Mahsa Farhadi Kia – Jan 2015

Sara Abri, untitled, from “Noise” series, fiberglass, 60 cm diameter, edition of 2 + 1 AP, 2012
Sara Abri, from “Noise” series, installation view, 2015