What happens when three friends who live together also happen to be artists? Naturally, the four walls around them become canvases waiting temptingly to be adorned. Lifelong pals and Iranian artists Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian have played on the idea that their shared home is also a studio, and the exhibition, entitled ‘I Put It There, You Name It’, running at Gallery IVDE until Thursday May 3, features collage-style artworks containing household items from mop heads to chillis.
‘We’ve been living in the house we sought to replicate for the show for three years now, but there are objects within the house, and the exhibition, that we acquired before then,’ says Hesam. ‘The three of us live and work together, and this process of living and creating has its own culture, inherent in both the collaborative and individual artworks we create.’ Here, the artists give us a tour.
The collaboration Title of work: ‘Untitled’. How did each of you contribute to this? Rokni: ‘This panel, and a number of others, hung on our garden wall for six months, during which time it was worked and re-worked by all of us.’
What materials did you use? Ramin: ‘Objects and images that we have gathered over time. We print images of women that we admire and stills from films we’ve been inspired by. We used the legs of plastic dolls, and created collages from found fabrics and objects.’
Hesam Rahmanian, 32 Title of work? ‘Defeated’. What does it represent? ‘I have certain objects and symbols that recur throughout my works, and the umbrella is one of these. It’s a symbol of protection, yet a defeated umbrella resonates with the reality that we can’t necessarily rely on apparent truths, when we are bombarded with information that is often warped, biased, or false. The umbrella betrays you at times, and here it appears defeated, unable to offer protection.’
Ramin Haerizadeh, 37 Title of work: ‘Still Life, King, Queen and Tomato’. What does it represent? ‘It’s about enforced remoteness of history, and the way it is continuously re-written by the world’s winners. This still-life arrangement depicts the ousted king and queen of Iran and tomatoes. The king is playing tennis with tomatoes, but the game leaves splatters of red, like blood, shadowing the spilled blood that comes when games turn to violence and loss of life. The woman with the elephant head is the former queen of Iran, and her regal composure is rendered redundant by the elephant head on her shoulders. The elephant is the protagonist of a popular Iranian play Shahr-e-Ghesseh – his identity is forcibly transformed to make him belong and fit in to the community in which he finds himself.’
Rokni Haerizadeh, 34 Title of work? ‘The Crying Butcher Was in Love With the Canary’. What does it represent? ‘It was inspired by a poem by Persian writer Ahmad Shamlou about a butcher who fell in love with a canary. For me, the Islamic Republic is like the butcher: falling in love with the soft and delicate creature is like falling in love with the idea of democracy. The butcher is sacrificing himself for a system to which he belongs. He is in love with a fragile symbol of hope, yet he is splattered in blood and surrounded by scenes that promise no change or progress. Behind the crying butcher, a protest scene becomes a carnival. Like the elections in Iran, protests and demonstrations become absurd carnivals that lead nowhere and achieve nothing.’
The lowdown Exhibition: ‘I Put It There, You Name It’ until May 18 at Gallery IVDE, unit 17, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1 (04 323 5052). Artists: Hesam Rahmanian, Rokni Haerizadeh, Ramin Haerizadeh