17 January 2008

dances in front of her own works at weddings (if you just happen to have one) - shirana shahbazi

writing about art isn't among the easiest things to do. writing about people, it seems, is much easier. at least when they're drinking german beer and wearing white socks in ocher low shoes. just like it is with red orchids placed in front of a red background, maybe this is one of those moments when an artist goes 'a little bit too far'.

this kind of stuff, i know, is what you want to hear. you want to hear about artists that are fun to look at, because - and that's with all honesty here - many of them don't have much to say. and when i set out to the curve tonight, pushing through london commute, i feared that could have been a mistake. so much the happier i was, when shirana shahbazi opened the night by displaying some of her older work, 'that you haven't seen yet', she assumes. but we have: photography inspired by journalism, photographs of painted photographies, photography knotted into rugs, and a collection of reportage-ish photography she produced for a major swiss insurance company - bewildered by its remote culture.

here, i think, is where the common commentator would build a bridge to her iranian family background/ life/ personality traits, perhaps even.

i, instead, would like to focus on 'remote'. remote, to me, describes her art and style just fine; 'remote' in a delicate, friendly way. 'it's better to have a clear intention about what you are going to do beforehand than having to clarify your artistry verbally after.' so, i ask shirana, does it matter at all whether people understand what you are doing? the attendant crowd catches their breath. shirana, too, seems caught off guard: 'would it sound very bad if i said no to this?' not at all, i find. 'for me it's satisfying when they think my work is beautiful, enjoyable.' and i am taking this earlier statement of hers out of context: 'whether my art gets sold or not, that's none of my business.' i'm not sure whether, at this point, she notices the guy leaning against her 18 meters long wall painting. 'you get a lot more relaxed once you've realized how hopeless it is to talk back [at the industry for pigeon-hole-ing her work as being young, iranian, female, german, swiss, identity-seeking or whatever].' 'i depend on clear thoughts as a starting point for my work, she explains, i need to know: what am i going to do tomorrow?'

'to depict a place far away', she said, was all she intended to do when she flew to iran to work on her degree show. to disclose what it's like if you know such a place very well. in iran, she goes on to explain, people were having a hard time seeing novelty in her photography: 'this is just iranian', she says they would say, 'what makes it so special?' to me, for sure, its beauty.

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