Art And Culture

Clouds of Imagination in Farahani’s Exhibit

Art & Culture Desk
Mehdi Hosseini spent two years to prepare his personal version from Ferdowsi’s epic Book of Kings.Mehdi Hosseini spent two years to prepare his personal version from Ferdowsi’s epic Book of Kings.

This is art because the artist says it's art, declared French artist Marcel Duchamp about his famous Bicycle Wheel in 1913.

A parallel reference of the Duchampian definition is made by Foad Farahani, curator of the exhibition 'Book as House' which opened on August 26. "An artist's book is an artist's book if its creator says so," he says about the exhibit.

The definition is wildly liberal, so is the exhibition sponsored by Charsoo Institute of Art and Culture and hosted by Aaran Projects, also known as Aaran Art Gallery.

Just like the wide range of its curator's activities, the exhibits defy categorization. One may expect to find artistic creations in the general form of books, but as Farahani told the Financial Tribune, "An artist's book may resemble a book structurally or conceptually."

  Inside the Gallery

Conceptual it is. The first turn in the corridor of the underground gallery has a nice surprise for visitors: 'Difficult Forests' by experimental Germany-based artist Sina Seifee, 33. The video art is projected on a wall, showing footages and pictures of Seifee's travel to the Amazon region in 2013, with a profusion of overlaid texts and graphics that help the artist share his impressions.

A few steps down and the iconic work by Adelaide-based contemporary artist Hossein Valamanesh, 66, can be seen on an empty wall. It is named 'Book of Ideas', a dot grid notebook whose dots are punched to let in pins. The inserted pins read 'NO IDEA'.


Next is an elegant table containing three piles of documents called 'Immigration Status,' an installation by painter and graphic artist Saeed Ravanbakhsh, 49, manager of the Charsoo Institute. The documents are from Iran, Europe and the US. They are tokens of the artist's experiences in three different parts of the world. When one travels from one place to another, "one is influenced and absorbs a bit of the culture" to make a new combination, Ravanbakhsh writes of his work.

Another work that shares personal pieces of life was 'Memories' by graphic designer Saed Meshki, 52. His work linked pages of a personal phonebook to a number of photos, notes and raw materials from previous projects. "Sometimes, a piece of paper, a note or a number takes one back to the past, to bitter or sweet memories, fears, anxieties, joys or sorrows." This is how Meshki describes his works.

  Art Book in Traditional Sense

Among the featured works at the exhibition, the closest to a traditional artist's book were The 'Shahnameh of Mehdi' and 'The Beautiful Ones Burn in Fire' by Mehdi Hosseini and Homa Delvaray respectively.

Hosseini spent two years to prepare his personal version from Ferdowsi's epic Book of Kings. It is a large book with pages of cotton fabric, containing sewn calligraphies of lead verses followed by an illustration of the scenes described.

Delvaray's work is an exquisite screen-printed book with intricate designs resembling electronic circuits. "The deviant ones are found at the corner of their rooms, curled among spiders, syringes and loneliness. And we'll never know why they left us …," she thus addresses the audience in her art book.

 Study on Clouds

Farahani has presented three art books at the event, all part of his extensive project called 'Clouds Study'. Each of the art books starts with a sentence that provokes the imagination and takes the viewer through a number of quality pictures from his observation of the sky and clouds. The binding of the books are designed in a way that enables only a partial opening; thus the reader literally peeks through Farahani's experiences.

There is also a book that takes the reader on a space journey. 'Cosmic Testament' is a scientific poem by painter and designer Maryam Farshad. Another is 'Resolution' by Behzad Motebaheri containing low and high resolution pictures archived in an artistic way.

 Photos with Altered Codes

Photographer and IT expert Milad Parvaz, 28, has presented a synthesis of art and technical knowledge in his "appropriated" version of photographer Mehran Mohajer's works. Parvaz has opened the source codes behind a digital selection of Mohajer's photographs and altered some lines in the scripts. As a result, he has created a distorted version of the photographs which, interestingly, is not devoid of aesthetic values.

And last but not the least is 'The Layers of Being' by painter and multidisciplinary artist Elmira Mirmiran, 31, who has brought an enigmatic box of flat drawers to the exhibition. Pulled out, each drawer reveals an unexpected fine art that makes sense only in combination with others.

The exhibition will run through September 12 at the gallery, located at No 5, Lolagar Alley, Neauphle Le Chateau Street.