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Assar Art Gallery Jan 2013 Roxana Manouchehri Nostalgic Identity 03

The World > Asia > Middle East > Iran > Tehran

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سایه‌بازی هویت در کارهای رکسانا منوچهری

پیاده‌رو

 دیماه ۱۳۹۱

کارهای رکسانا موچهری در مجموعه هویت نوستالژیک نه اشاره به «هویت» مشخصی دارد و نه در «نوستالژی» خود را غرق می‌کند. به همین خاطر، این مجموعه شاید راهی را برای بازنگری این دو واژه پُر استفاده زمانه به ما نشان دهد. 

مثل بسیاری از انسان‌های چندهویتی این دوران، او نیز در کشوری زندگی می‌کند که پایتخت هویت ملی‌اش قلمداد نمی‌شود. در جایی است که حتی با ایرانی زیادی برخورد ندارد (تا شاید هویت دادوستدی فرهنگی برای خود به هم زند). این نکته در کشوری که پیش از این در آن اقامت داشت نیز صدق می‌کرد. رویکرد منوچهری به هویت در کارهای‌اش از این نظر متفاوت است که به جای واماندگی‌سرگردانی خواندن‌اش، و بی‌ریشه‌سرگشته دانستن خود، هنرمند در این تنداب هویتی و گیجی حاصل از فروپاشی نظام نشانه‌ها راهی یافته است برای سرخوشی. آیا او در کارهای‌‌اش فروپاشی نشانه‌ها را جشن می‌گیرد؟ چرا مردم آسیای غربی او چنین بدون رنگ و عمق ترسیم شده‌اند در جایی که چشم‌انداز پشت سر آنها، که از نقاشی‌های دوره نخستین رنسانس اروپایی برگرفته شده، رنگین و برجسته‌ است؟ آیا هنرمند می‌‌خواهد بگوید که شباهتی میان شخصیت‌های نقاشی‌های ایران قدیم و ایرانیان امروز نمی‌بیند؟ آیا او می‌خواهد نشان دهد که پیشینیان فرهنگی ما (از قاجار بگیر تا هخامنشی) جز روح‌واره‌ای نیستند؟

این شخصیت‌ها به خاطر پخ و دوبُعدی بودن از پیرامون‌شان متمایزند. از اندام خوش‌تراشیده، و طنازی‌های مینیاتوری آنها که بگذریم، انگار جزوی از یک نمایش‌ سایه‌بازی‌اند و وجودشان به فاصله‌شان از منبع نور بسته است. آیا این پیامی است مبنی بر اینکه از فرهنگ شرقی تنها سایه‌هایی در صحنه بازی جهانی باقی مانده؟ آیا منبع نور این صحنه سفیدپوستان روشنی‌یافته است؟

این نخستین باری نیست که هنرمند بوم‌اش را میعادگاه شخصیت‌هایی از فرهنگ‌های متفاوت می‌کند. در رویارویی او نقش‌ها و اشکالی را از نقاشی پشت شیشه ایرانی در کنار همزادان‌ اروپایی‌اش قرار می‌هد، و در ترسیم این نقش‌ها به فرم اولیه وفادار است. در مجموعه کُره هم او شخصیت‌ها و موتیف‌های قاجاری را در میدان دید لم‌یزرع اتاق‌اش می‌کارد. برخی از این شخصیت‌ها سایه‌وارند و برخی دیگر نه. در حقیقت به نظر می‌رسد که شخصیت‌های نقاشی‌های رکسانا منوچهری به تدریج به سوی این رفته‌اند که تنها شبه‌ای از آنها بماند.

در هویت نوستالژیک این شخصیت‌های شبه‌گونه همه در حال پایکوبی ترسیم شده‌اند، حتی آنها که از صحنه تعزیه به اینجا راه پیدا کرده‌اند. در رویارویی با مسئله عبوسی به نام «هویت»، هنرمند کار دیگر نمی‌تواند بکند جز بازیگوشی و دعوت از بینندگان کارش که به میدان بیایند و از رقص تنانه هویت ترسی نداشته باشند. در خوانش این نگارنده از آخرین مجموعه رکسانا منوچهری، «هویت» و «نوستالژی» را نباید در معنی متداول‌شان شناخت. هویت نوستالژیک تلاش ندارد ما را به گریز از سرنوشت خود تشویق کند، بلکه به قبول آن با یک لبخند دعوت می‌کند. این لبخند مهم است. به تعبیر ویلیام بلیک، احمقی که در حماقت خود پافشاری کند به فرزانگی می‌رسد. به تعمیم، سایه‌هایی که سایه‌گی خود را بپذیرند، پیرامونشان را روشن خواهند کرد.

سهراب مهدوی

Shadow Playing Identity in the Works of Roxana Manouchehri

Sidewalk

30 January 2013

Works of Roxana Manouchehri in the Nostalgic Identity collection neither dwell on “nostalgia” nor do they rely on a singular “identity”; for this, perhaps, they may give us clues as to how to see these two-most in-circulation signifiers of absence. Identity is possible and only comes up when its opposite exerts itself. It is ontologically tied to alterity, a not-this, a not-that. Nostalgia is a summoning of that, as in a séance, which is no longer and it is meant to act as a balm for bruised identities.

Like many multi people living in the world today, Roxana Manouchehri lives in a place that is not considered the seat of her national identity. In fact, she lives where not even many Iranians live (to at least appeal to a sense of give 'n' take cultural identity). This was also true in her previous country of residence. The difference with Manouchehri's works is that instead of calling it displacement-exile and being disturbed-unsettled by it, the artist finds amusement in the confusion resulting from the metastasis of the regime of signs and signifiers. Could it be that she is also welcoming such a breakdown? Why do her West Asians appear in outlines against the full-blown Renaissance European landscape? Could it be that in her experience she finds no similarity between the characters that people the paintings of early Iranians -- Qajar (1781-1925), Safavid (1501-1732), and Achaemenid (550-330 BC) era -- and the Iranians that surround her? Does she paint her characters in this particular way to point to the ghost-like existence of her cultural predecessors? 

Another characteristic that sets these figures apart from the surrounding is the fact that they appear flat, two-dimensional. Their smooth curviness, their miniaturist, lissome dance notwithstanding, they are much like shadow puppets, whose being is determined by their distance to the source of light. Could it be that to the artist West Asians are but shadows in the global theater stage? Is this stage raised, pitched, and en-lightened by whiter people? 

It is not the first time that the artist has gathered characters from two different cultures in her works. In Encounter, she placed figures and motifs from Iranian reverse-glass painting next to their European counterparts, and remained true to their original form. In the Korea series she planted figures and scripts from the Qajar era Iran in the barren field of vision of her room. Some of these figures were in outlines while others weren't. It seems, in fact, that characters in her paintings are slowly losing any semblance of representational corporeality. 

In Nostalgic Identity these spectral figures are in frolicy poses, even the ones in passion play. In the face of the dourness and consequentiality of the question of identity, the artist only smiles and her work is an invitation extended to her viewers to get in the middle for the dance. In my reading, "nostalgia" and "identity" shouldn't be taken as what they represent. Nostalgic Identity is not an attempt to make us yearn for a different destiny; it is to accept the one we already have with playfulness. The play makes all the difference. A fool that persists in his folly, says Blake, will become wise. A shadow that persists in her shadowiness, by extension, will bring enlightenment to her surroundings. 

Sohrab Mahdavi

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This panorama was taken in Tehran

This is an overview of Tehran

Overview and History

Tehran is the capital of Iran and the largest city in the Middle East, with a population of fifteen million people living under the peaks of the Alborz mountain range.

Although archaeological evidence places human activity around Tehran back into the years 6000BC, the city was not mentioned in any writings until much later, in the thirteenth century. It's a relatively new city by Iranian standards.

But Tehran was a well-known village in the ninth century. It grew rapidly when its neighboring city, Rhages, was destroyed by Mongolian raiders. Many people fled to Tehran.

In the seventeenth century Tehran became home to the rulers of the Safavid Dynasty. This is the period when the wall around the city was first constructed. Tehran became the capital of Iran in 1795 and amazingly fast growth followed over the next two hundred years.

The recent history of Tehran saw construction of apartment complexes and wide avenues in place of the old Persian gardens, to the detriment of the city's cultural history.

The city at present is laid out in two general parts. Northern Tehran is more cosmopolitan and expensive, southern Tehran is cheaper and gets the name "downtown."

Getting There

Mehrabad airport is the original one which is currently in the process of being replaced by Imam Khomeini International Airport. The new one is farther away from the city but it now receives all the international traffic, so allow an extra hour to get there or back.

Transportation

Tehran driving can be a wild free-for-all like some South American cities, so get ready for shared taxis, confusing bus routes and a brand new shiny metro system to make it all better. To be fair, there is a great highway system here.

The metro has four lines, tickets cost 2000IR, and they have segregated cars. The women-only carriages are the last two at the end, FYI.

Taxis come in two flavors, shared and private. Private taxis are more expensive but easier to manage for the visiting traveler. Tehran has a mean rush hour starting at seven AM and lasting until 8PM in its evening version. Solution? Motorcycle taxis! They cut through the traffic and any spare nerves you might have left.

People and Culture

More than sixty percent of Tehranis were born outside of the city, making it as ethnically and linguistically diverse as the country itself. Tehran is the most secular and liberal city in Iran and as such it attracts students from all over the country.

Things to do, Recommendations

Take the metro to the Tehran Bazaar at the stop "Panzda Gordad". There you can find anything and everything -- shoes, clothes, food, gold, machines and more. Just for the sight of it alone you should take a trip there.

If you like being outside, go to Darband and drink tea in a traditional setting. Tehranis love a good picnic and there are plenty of parks to enjoy. Try Mellat park on a friday (fridays are public holidays), or maybe Park Daneshjou, Saaii or Jamshidieh.

Remember to go upstairs and have a look around, always always always! The Azadi Tower should fit the bill; it was constructed to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire.

Tehran is also full of museums such as:

the Contemporary Art Museum

the Abghine Musuem (glass works)

the 19th century Golestan Royal Palace museum

the museum of carpets (!!!)

Reza Abbasi Museum of extraordinary miniatures

and most stunning of all,

the Crown Jewels Museum which holds the largest pink diamond in the world and many other jaw-dropping jewels.

Text by Steve Smith.

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