Iranian artist Majid Kourang Behesti explores the theme of Tehran
On show in Dubai for the first time, Iranian artist Majih Kourang Behesti’s debut solo show, ‘Telling Spaces’, comprises two contrasting series of photos. The first, entitled ‘Cube Routes’, features stark landscapes shot in black and white; the second, ‘City Notes’, is a politically charged and unsettling series of staged colour images, featuring random subjects in destroyed surrounds.
So how did the Tehran-based artist’s work make such a profound evolution? On transitioning from monochrome to colour, Behesti says he wanted to create impressive realism using a documentary style of shooting that came as close to photojournalism as possible. Taking into account recent news stories and the often dangerous relationships between people, he decided to delve into colour.
The images may look different, but deep down the themes are the same. ‘My goal is to show reality. The camera is a mechanical device, but photography begins with reality. By zooming in on the facts, I’ve found a way to create these images,’ says Behesti. The show continues at Ayyam Art Centre until Thursday October 11.
The Lowdown Exhibition: ‘Telling Spaces’ until Thursday October 11 at Ayyam Art Centre, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (04 323 6242). Artist: Majid Kourang Behesti. Price of works: Dhs9,000 to Dhs13,500.
‘The people pictured here are plain-clothed policemen, who often confront people in any place to exercise their power. I spent two months working on this shot. Part of the photo is a memory of my adolescence, which was of the sudden presence of these people in public. We still see them in Iran, Egypt and Syria. I love to show the constant historical presence of modernity and tradition in these scenes. Yesterday and today is reality, and a lot of reality today is based on censorship.’
‘In this series I shot urban spaces. I’ve been working on this series since 2004 and it has a particular style of its own. The whole set is black and white. What’s striking in this picture is an empty and cold space that seems to be without any inhabitants. It’s an apocalyptic atmosphere and the end to the modern temples that have a repetitive order.’
‘The same people, in plain clothes, constantly watch others in town. It took a month to select the elements of the image. It represents the tension in my city or anywhere else. But I want the viewer to use their own subjectivity. It could suggest memories of a girlfriend, or chasing and escaping in a community protest that is being crushed. The coloured lights on the floor can be disco lights or a symbol of conflict between two conflicting political parties.’
‘To face the events in my country and those I see in the media, I portray them in my photographs. The pictures are made in relation to social and political events, but with my own interpretation. This photo took two to three months to set up. One of the political statements I make is that, even in the most terrible scenes of life, the man with the microphone never stops chanting. He only thinks about command. He just thinks about his orders, not about its consequences.’
‘Again, in relation to plain-clothed policemen who hunt down illegal parties, this photo talks about a girl who committed suicide when policemen raided an apartment in which she was gambling. It’s also a memory of mine after a death sentence I witnessed in a courtyard.’