Sumac Space

Dialogues Exhibitions About Artists' rooms

Dialogues

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  • Exhibition Review / Zahra Zeinali, au-delà by Hamidreza Karami
  • Exhibition Notes / Zahra Zeinali, au-delà
  • Ali Eslami–On the Creation of Virtual Spaces with their own Temporality
  • The Tellers Symposium [Audio/Video Recordings]
  • Akram Ahmadi Tavana—And We Remain Silent for a While…
  • Sara Sallam–On Seeing, Searching, and the Book “Let My Eyes Have a Glimpse of You”
  • The New Gods: Srđan Tunić in Conversation with Omar Houssien
  • Frames Cracked by Lines of Doubt–A Trialogue
  • Of Cities and Private Living Rooms: Huda Takriti in Conversation with Huda Takriti
  • Between research, perspectives, and artworks: Farzaneh Abdoli in Conversation with Ahoo Maher
  • Plants, Language and Politics: Victoria DeBlassie in Conversation with Alaa Abu Asad
  • Azita Moradkhani–Interwoven Drawings. On Storytelling, Body Images and the Uncertainties of History
  • On Ongoing–A Series of Five Artist Conversations [Video Recordings]
  • Jafra Abu Zoulouf–Poetic Repetitions Towards an Affirmation of Existence
  • Joana Kohen–I Grow My Own Peace in a World of Utter Alienation
  • Parisa Aminolahi–Living in the Moment Post-Cinematically
  • History/Image: National Memory Beyond Nationalism
  • Navid Azimi Sajadi–Beneath the Surface
  • Nilbar Güreş–The Semantic Diversity of Material
  • Elmira Abolhassani–Mirroring the Real
  • Camila Salame–A Garden of Tongues
  • Taha Heydari–Painting as Thinking Act
  • Christine Kettaneh–Language as Source and Subject
  • Farzaneh Hosseini–On the Challenges of Being an Artist
  • Anahita Razmi–Speaking Nearby Iran
  • Benji Boyadgian–The Investigation of Material as an Archive
  • Akram Ahmadi Tavana—And We Remain Silent for a While…


    And We Remain Silent for a While…1
    A review of the exhibition “Dear Fractured Stones
    Akram Ahmadi Tavana 

    The exhibition “Dear Fractured Stones” evokes an image similar to the one drawn in Mehdi Akhavan Sales’s poem, “Katibeh” (Inscription), a poem telling the story of a group of people chained together on a cursed moonlit night. Similar to the characters of the poem but with looser and lighter chains, the artists presented in this exhibition work together to “turn” the stone. And as they “turn” their inscriptions they seek to reveal the secrets of that which is unsaid. But in this process of “turning” the stone over hours and days – not moments and minutes – they find themselves silent in shock, where their main action is that of remembering. The artists all look back and remember, but stone neither remembers nor forgets; instead, it continues to collect and to record and to carry the burden which it then passes down.

    Stone as a material is comprised of mineral bonds; in its essence it is becoming rather than being, and this becoming is a process occurring over time with changes and observations. It is as if stone records its observations in layers, “turning” itself into an archive of the known even as it is an archive of a selection of bodily sediments. The stone takes events in and then accumulates their traces in the style of a documentary. It is a thing of the past with its historicity; however, time never stops within it but rather the stone encompasses the dialectic between the past and the present. Indeed, it is for this very reason that stone needs to be cut to be read. When a stone is broken, it cannot be remedied or mended, and in this sense, the narratives within are unveiled and disseminated immediately. At this moment, the untold is revealed. From this point on, the rigid reports of the past are not only divulged but also precarious. Another account is added to the memory of the past, but then it is cast away until it will become someone else’s concern one day. In this manner, Baharak Omidfard builds, through the nine artistic interpretations of this material stone, an intertextual network in the exhibition “Dear Fractured Stones”. In this collection, Omidfard addresses not only stone, but broken stones, stones which have been cast away and scattered, separated into pieces of an older body. Here, the stone which is normally used to break is now itself broken. In this sense, a piece of stone is like a material that finds a new nature and “transforms” into the agent of a unique narrative in a different form and medium; yet, one which is still connected with other narratives. 

    Throughout the history of art, stone has always found a new shape through both the process of being carved and through the removal of excessive parts, an act which diverts attention from the material to the form. In subsequent art forms which replaced the work with the idea, stone could be then present in its natural form. Nowadays, meaning is created not only through acts of reduction, but also, sometimes, through the addition of another material, or at other times, through the altering of the background. This means that the stone itself matters, and it is no longer simply a material subservient to other content. This was the moment when stone became a historical-archival material. In contrast to its physical nature, this hard material is actually fluid and flowing when faced with history and the past; at times welcoming effacement yet always prepared to be refreshed and renewed. Thus, the artist’s activism in “Dear Fractured Stones” casts doubt on and questions official reports through the use of this very quality contained in the stone. Indeed, the significance of this exhibition is that the artworks – regardless of their past contexts and presentations – remind us of the possibility of reading unreliable texts and establishing new layers, adding to the stone’s archival state. In this exhibition, the artists seek to liberate reality from the dominance of the familiar – and sometimes manipulated – historical and official reports. 

    The archive of a stone is when nature, earth, and geography bond with humans and historical events in such a way, that through the mediation of one, another becomes available. Using nine different approaches, the nine artists in this exhibition, linked through one history and geography – yet nevertheless in different parts of the world – present nine different narratives. The narratives of the artists, whether they are in Iran or not, are rooted in their memories of and their lived experiences in Iran, and ultimately, in their concerns about Iran. The works stand together through a common characteristic: the archival and sociopolitical state of stone located in this specific geography of Iran. Disengaged from power, stone is able to narrate social reports and reflect political affairs, not from the view of the powerful, nor from the annals of official accounts, but from the perspective of the people. In this way, the stone is on the people’s side and stands with them at night when “moonlight pours damnation upon us”. The works in this collection place stone in a position that symbolizes the gathered collective social energy that has to be released and freed. With the intervention of art, stone enters into the sociopolitical discourse without departing from its natural essence. 

    Broken stones — whether they be as large as rocks, as small as pebbles, or perhaps even reduced to dust; whether located in the hands of one or upon the grave of another; whether valued and worn as part of a ring, or shaped for the conducting of local traditions, or even used to designate or destroy property lines — are, as historical observers, always ready to testify. Stones are impartial observers of events, of resistances, of dethronings, and of inaugurations. Since they are prone to gradual erosion, the results of their observations always need to be recorded by someone. Indeed, every time a new event adds a new layer to this archive, someone is required to “turn” the stone over. When people of vision “turn” the stone, they do so by annotating the historical inscriptions and not by seeking to develop a resplendent canon. They shape a metaphorical network of freed narratives just like the eternal “turning over” of the inscription in Akhavan Sales’s “Katibeh”: 

    He shall know my secret 
    who turns me over!

    1 Allusion to a line in Mehdi Akhavan Sales’s “Katibeh” (Inscription): “And we remained silent”.
    Mehdi Akhavan Sales (1929–1990) was an Iranian poet whose works deal with historical, social, and political themes using an epic tone and are indebted to classic Persian poetry. In 1961, Akhavan composed “Katibeh” (Inscription), which refers to the dominant social and political oppression at the time. The poem can be summarized as follows: A group of people are in chains in a place like a mountain. A voice directs their attention to read a secret on a nearby inscription. However, the group endures the situation in silence and passivity until a moonlit night when they cannot endure it any more. One of them, whose chain is loose, climbs up to the inscription and reads: He shall know my secret who turns me over! Struggling painfully, the group then works together to turn the stone. Again, one of them with a lighter chain climbs up and reads in surprise after taking his time:
    “He shall know my secret
    who turns me over!”

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