WOLF INSTALLATIONS, ALGERIA

Region/Concept: North Africa, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Fear (dread, paranoia), Slaughter, The Grotesque
Description: Installation artist Adel Abdessemed equates artistic creation with butchery and wolves.

Theory: Recurring mythologies of the wolf (i.e. its stronghold within the immemorial, the primordial, the ancient, the medieval, the modern and the postmodern), combining animality, beastliness, and ghostliness. Figure of stalking and predation; the nightmare, the fangs, the woods beyond the social (where blood-thirst is the only law). Carnivalesque celebration of the flesh (torn, devoured, crucified); victory of the creature over the creation (a single bite accomplishes the reversal of humanist privilege), amidst the elegant interplay of lacerations and wrenching limbs.

Link: http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/nathan/adel-abdessemed-2-24-12.asp

Posted by: Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh

Adel Abdessemed Exhibition Premier - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring / Summer 2013

BLACKSMITH POET, AFGHANISTAN

Region/Concept: Middle East, Movement
Sub-Concepts: Rhythm, Harshness, Inexorability
Description: Afghani blacksmith writes poetry within the forge (amidst fire, iron, smoke).

Theory: Fusion of poetics and steel. Inexorable rhythm of the master’s arm (striking, hammering). The blacksmith’s arena is based upon axioms of harshness, dominant motion, uncompromising devotion, and hardened corporeality. There is no ideology within the forge, only the craftsman’s rage and precision. Unanticipated, cyclonic den of pure movement and production. Quest for microcosmic perfection (the artisan as quasi-god)…jagged, meticulous, entrenched amidst extreme temperatures, ever-between states of solidity (the blade), liquidity (the melted metal), and aeriality (the dense smoke). The word must also resemble this process, each anti-lyrical stanza an emulation of the mercilessness of iron.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/world/asia/an-afghan-poet-shapes-metal-and-hard-words.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=WO_AAP_20130819&_r=1&gwh=FB4B4703FBB924AF4194749AFA4CB51C&

Posted by: Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh

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STONE GARDEN OF THE DEAF-MUTE, IRAN

Region/Concept: Middle East, Space
Sub-Concepts: Madness, Solitude, Derangement, Rapture
Description: Deaf-mute Iranian peasant builds stone garden.

Theory: This episode reveals the powerful transposition of the loss of language into a spatial arena. It thereby raises the following questions: How does the pain of mutedness and incommunicability become its own expressive device? How does the impasse of a lone man’s incomprehensibility and isolation become an elite license to cosmological re-creation? In what way is this transition from the abstract domain of the word to the concrete stratum of the stone (from discourse to geology) a will to rapture, apotheosis, and mystical exaltation? What is the final implication of this alternative modality of belonging for our sense of being-in-the-world, and what esoteric principles can one excavate from his dance of derangement?

Link 1: http://historicaliran.blogspot.com/2009/12/darvish-khans-stone-garden.html
Link 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAISFy9sZL4

Posted by: Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh

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BOY WEAPONS-MAKER, SYRIA

Region/Concept: Middle East, Time
Sub-Concepts: Innocence, Necessity, Unnatural Aging
Description: Photo series of young Syrian boy working in weapons factory.

Theory: This episode showcases the involvement of the child in elevated conditions of war: cradle-to-grave fatality. It thereby raises the following questions: How does the state of emergency (revolution, war, famine) thrust the child into a process of unnatural aging, as a still-formless consciousness is told to confront thresholds of mortality far ahead of its years? In what sense is innocence obsolesced by more vicious principles of necessity, velocity, and struggle? How does this accelerated timescape (trapped within the hyper-reality of civil conflict) impact the child’s relation to the surrounding atmosphere and the world of objects and appearances? Is the exhausted face of the boy weapon-maker, one who bathes in the metallic craft of missiles and ammunition, whose face is blackened by the smoke and furnaces of this lethal factory, the ultimate banner of the apocalyptic?

Link: http://in.reuters.com/news/pictures/slideshow?articleId=INRTX13ER0#a=1

Posted by: Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh

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STRANGULATION AESTHETICS, IRAN

Region/Concept: Middle East, Body
Sub-Concepts: Silence, Voice, Suffocation, The Utterance
Description: Video Installation of Shirin Neshat’s “Turbulent” (male and female vocal performers in sonic contestation).

Theory: This episode illustrates the contrast of the normalized body (in states of composure, pronunciation, and exhibition) and the deviant body (in states of gagging, writhing, and forbidden articulation). It thereby raises the following questions: What is the acoustic register of the unspoken? How does the existential category of the banished, the accursed, or the minorized individual enable some visionary breakthrough towards an aesthetics of jaggedness? What is the bond between art and vengeance, and also between eroticism, agony, and the creative instinct?

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2DNMG2s_O0

Posted by: Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh

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CANNIBAL REBEL, SYRIA

Region/Concept: Middle East, Violence
Sub-Concepts: Mutilation, Devouring, the Enemy
Description: Video Interview with Abu Sakkar (Syrian militia fighter captured on video while eating the heart or liver of a dead soldier).

Theory: This episode compels one to reflect on the relationship between violence and consumption. It thereby raises the following questions: What are the tremulous repercussions of the one who ingests/internalizes the enemy? How does this intense proximity with the body of the fallen (feeding upon the wound, swallowing the corpse) and the eventual shift towards vampirism reveal an alternative framework of anger or atrocity that deviates from modernity’s increasing strategies of detached, imperceptible, and technologically-mediated killing? What does this cannibalistic performance suggest about the existential contrast between the figure of the militant and the ideology of the state?

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JUt7-iesfc

Posted by: Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh

A Free Syrian Army fighter sits on a sofa inside a house in Deir al-Zor