Friday, November 14, 2008

Sideways in tehran reaction

Sidways in Tehran

Sideways in Tehran was for me a big step putting my work in a context which I thought was familiar to me and the viewers.
And being professionally active in a country that I left 20 years ago,
I knew somewhere that it is impossible to explain to the Sideways group how it would be to be in Iran. The media has shaped the image of Iran in such a way that even I who travels to Iran a lot have to be careful not to believe that Image.
Let alone to explain how it functions to the others who haven’t been there.
As Nickel mentioned in his text what we were really eager to hear were the reactions on the works, do they function or communicate?
What happens with my works specially because the Exotic elements didn’t play a role anymore, would they be understood different will there be any recognition or the drawings become uninteresting because they are not exotic anymore?
I have to say that these questions stayed unanswered; as it works often in the exhibition you don’t get any direct reaction on the works.
The interest to see the show was there defiantly 4 hours long people came in and out.

I felt a bit lost there not to be sure what is my position I wasn’t a stranger anymore but it felt like it. The reactions towards me was different from the other western members of the group, there was a misunderstanding of my position. I felt more at home with the group and in speaking Dutch than communicating with the Iranian audience. So there it was I was a stranger from inside this time.
During the discussions I was asked mainly the questions which I asked myself in the Netherlands. How can you work when your work will be categorized as exotic?
This was the most interesting question I heard and as I talked to couple of other artist I heard the same concerns.
I knew that Iran is a country full of young people I knew that these young population are working and surviving creatively in a tough situations and I knew of their energy and eagerness to learn more and have more open interaction with the rest of world. But with Iran being a relatively close country in communication I didn’t expect this much western influence on them. By this I don’t mean the popular culture the way young dress and listen to the music or even talk but how they look at themselves through the western eye. To be concerned how they are jugged by west in art or anything else spoke of a certain kind of insecurity that I guess many people have towards west. Of course this insecurity has an important economical root.
But economics plays an important role in art as in any other field.
So I start to see my questions in another context,
It seemed that my questioning my work’s context doesn’t have to do with the space or even knowledge of the context of my works at this moment but more an insecurity and inability to identifying my position imposed on me by another culture, as it happens with the Iranian artists.
I found out that there is a bigger and more rooted problem that we are dealing with than the misunderstanding of the context, that is the cultural, economical and political root in the meaning of the word Exotic.
The word Exotic is an external factor imposed on a certain subjects. I think because It doesn’t have any roots in an individual non western culture there should be a way out. By just trying to find more certainty of ones position.
So this was in a sense an eye-opener for me which gave me again another perspective to see through.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it is very good that you arrived to that matter of the exotic, it feels like a refined question for Sideways.