The project started with collecting nine thousand used gloves of Iranian oil workers over the course of two years. Then, they were assembled on a web-like net. Exploring the past and present identity of this seemingly insignificant object vis-à-vis the appearance of buildings with histories that are related to oil and integrating it with the city and the daily lives of people is a metaphor for reclaiming the spaces that these absent presents have been shaping through their invisible activity over the years. The work creates a dialog between the objects, the history of the place, and the participation of the workers who helped create the installation, presenting a collaborative art piece in the process.
Public Setting #1: Abadan, Iran
In the spring of 2019, in collaboration with the Iran Petroleum Museum, the installation obtained, for the first time, the permission for a public display on the façade of the Abadan Apprentice Training Center Museum for three months. The Apprentice Training Center, which was established in 1934 by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, was, at the time, one of the first manpower training centers of its kind.
Public Setting #2: Tehran, Iran
In the autumn of 2019, the installation was set on the façade of Darvazeh Dowlat Gas Station Museum. The installation process took a week in this crowded area of the city and was on display for a month for all the pedestrians to see.
Public Setting #3: Baku, Azerbaijan
In 2020, the installation was presented in collaboration with the YARAT Contemporary Art Centre. For the installation, a number of gloves were gathered from Azerbaijani oil workers and then were attached to used Iranian gloves, and were finally assembled on the façade of the museum’s building. In addition to the installation, an archive of documents of Azerbaijani oil workers from the post-oil boom period was exhibited. The presentation of these documents, was not only a reconsideration of the invisible nature of the labor force, but also an attempt to explore the structures of migration for economic reasons.
Setting #4: Tehran, Vahdat Hall
In early 2020, in cooperation with the Tehran Sculpture Biannual, the “Presence of Absence” was installed, for the first time in an interior space in the Vahdat Hall. The hall was inaugurated in 1967, which coincided with one of the most important development eras of the country that had begun with the inflow of oil revenue.
Setting #5: Tehran, Mohsen Gallery
In 2021, in the Pasio space of Mohsen Gallery, a nine-meter tower was built for the installation to occupy the entire space, using scrap leftover from buildings as well as other kinds of construction waste. In the interior of the rig, gloves are used and, on its façade, the archive portfolios and documents of the trainees of the Abadan Museum is installed, which is a reference to the first execution of this installation and the absence of those who played a role in this project during these three years.