The themes of Iranian artist Samira Alikhanzadeh’s paintings revolve around human personal relationships, weaving in ideas of national and personal identity as well as the illusion and ephemerality of societal changes between the past decades and the present. For the past decade she has primarily used found Iranian family portraits from the 1930’s to 1950’s and painted over or added strips of mirrors to them to express these ideas. By western standards, these seemingly bland family portraits point to a time of apparent freedom, when women were forced by the Shah to look westernized and not wear hijab.
The eyes in many cases have been covered by a piece of mirror, except where a more arresting gaze is desired. In this sense the gaze is what its all about, for in traditional niqab or chador attire the eyes are the only part revealed, while the rest of the body is covered from head to toe in the mono-coloured dress.
The photographs of Iraqi artist/photographer Ali Arkady dramatizes the theatricality of the scene, telling the story of a generation of people in war-torn Iraq. Through his uncanny knack for capturing people’s expressions at just the right time, in what’s known as ‘the decisive moment’ in photography, they also reflect the collective feelings of whole segments of society within the country as a whole.
‘Day Laborer’ Series
These photographs document the day laborers that gather every morning in Sulaimaniyah to look for day jobs that pay a pittance and offer no rights or have any job security. Which is common in many cities around the world. However the people in the community are actually grateful that they do this work, as they are the ones re-building Iraq, even if they don’t feel it all the time.
Dark, sterile and dystopic at the same time, Greek artist George Drivas’s films depict a retro-futuristic life in an era of mass state surveillance that ends with unexpected results. Using the city and civic architecture as a stage, the films explore the possibilities of experiencing all facets of life, including falling in love, under such a regime. It also seems to use the architecture depicted as commentary on world utopian visions, in some respects.
Beta Test (2005)
In Beta Test (2005) 2 subjects, clinically named ‘Model #1’ and ‘Model #2’, taking part in a controlled experiment of sorts, are sent to different points in a city that’s almost empty, where they wander around and eventually meet each other. Viewers watch from the point of view of the controller, as the subtitles display the metadata, a log of the events and his thoughts about it.
Using some of the ubiquitous ruins found in Afghanistan, and ‘found’ local children, Afghani-born artist Lida Abdul’s video installations delve into issues of war, memories and feminism or its lack thereof in her homeland. In White House (2005) she found an old classical style presidential palace that had been bombed into a ruin, on the outskirts of Kabul and painted the whole place white, filming the process which lasted for 3 days.
The fact that she was dressed in black shows a kind of mourning, and her bent over, sweeping motion in the wind is somewhat ambiguous; is she white-washing, sanitizing the whole place with the paint, or is this an act of remembrance, like elderly people sweeping the grave of the deceased in other countries?
As readers of my blog, you all should know there has been a proliferation of, what’s been described as ‘falsehoods’ or ‘alternative facts’ on the internet these days. I think its a polite way of saying they are actually lies. In short you can’t believe everything you read on some website, but everyone knows that. Nowadays, living in what’s known as the ‘post-truth’ era of politics, you can’t even believe what’s being said in main stream media interviews a lot of times.
The funny thing about human beings is that we’re prone to believing lies and in fact we love it, some of us more than others. We love being lied to. Truth is hard, cold and unfriendly. Lies are soft, warm and fuzzy, makes us feel safe, secure and righteous in our conspiracy to blame others for our discontentment.
As opposed to alternative facts, every fact that I have written here, has been gained from what the artist themselves have said in published interviews or from other main stream contemporary art magazine articles. The opinions derived are based from these and other legitimate sources, like institutional websites, all the books I’ve read etc.. Sometimes its derived from looking at a picture and plain logic. If you disagree, then you disagree, but I don’t think anyone has ever had an issue with this.