'A Permanent Record For Future Investigation' exhibition
Photos explory 'history of representation' at Green Art Gallery
Iranian artist Kamrooz Aram has set aside his canvases to explore the concept of representation in an exhibition currently running at Dubai’s Green Art Gallery. Relinquishing his creative hand in favour of a critical eye, curator Aram explains how photographstell a calculated story that is ‘assumed’ by the photographer. ‘Images play a major role in the telling of history,’ explains the NYC-based artist. ‘It’s critical to understand that images are made by people, and that people make decisions in the process of image-making that influence our understandingof their subject.’
The show, entitled ‘A Permanent Record For Future Investigation’, has enabled Aram, as curator, to focus on a subject that particularly intrigues him. ‘The question of representation is something I’ve been interested in within my own studio practice and research for many years. But it was really liberating to focus on artists who make work that is different than my own, artists who deal more directly with photographic images.’
He explains that his artistic background also allowed him to develop a unique relationship with the artists. ‘One benefit of having an artist as curator is that I’m empathetic with the artists’ concerns. We could have conversations in the studio or over coffee or online, and we could speak frankly with each other, discussing possibilities about which works to present and how to group them. I think artists have slightly different conversations with each other than they do with a curator, critic or gallerist,’ says Aram.
Here, he tells us why he chose three of the key works.
The Lowdown Exhibition: ‘A Permanent Record For Future Investigation’ until January 10 at Green Art Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (04 346 9305). Artist: Kamrooz Aram. Price of works: Prices available on request.
Tryptych No. 2 by Iman Issa ‘Issa begins with the image on the left, a snapshot of a location with personal significance. The next image attempts to capture the feelings she associates with the first image. The third is a fresh response to the second image, as if the artist were viewing it for the first time – you listen to it on headphones. It’s a gentle sound that I imagine to be a cross between Homer’s Sirens and a distant foghorn.’
How does it explore the concept? ‘The representation of a sensation, memory or feeling has historically been attempted through painting and often dismissed as subjective or sentimental. Iman takes this on through photography – the use of sound is fresh and compelling. She combines places and images with something as ephemeral as a sound to engage such content without seeming self-indulgent or sentimental.’
Imperial Highness of Ethiopia by Mehreen Murtaza ‘The subject of this image, Haile Selassie, is appropriate for a show dealing with the subjectivity of history. He was the emperor of Ethiopia – many give him credit for resisting Italian colonisation, and Rastafarians consider him to be the human embodiment of the divine.’
How does it explore the concept? ‘The artist challenges us to see that what we record as history is often as absurd as science fiction, that mythology and history are more indistinguishable than the history books would have you believe.’
Chain 2011 by Talia Chetrit ‘This is a black and white photograph of a chain.’
How does it explore the concept? ‘Talia’s photos take on the many roles of photography – fine art, documentation and more. ‘Chain’ is repetitive, almost ornamental, like a Jackson Pollock, so it can be seen as an abstraction; or a landscape, a representation of an industrial space… a very shallow space. But really it’s a still life.: a depiction of an object on a black backdrop. It is functional, banal, but also poetic and wrought with tension. It is an object defeated, unable to fulfil its function. It is a chain at rest, a chain defeated.’