Archiving the Present

28 Dec 2018 - 15 Jan 2019

Statement

Archiving the Present

Hengameh Moammeri What is identity? Is identity defined by history, or is it a construct of nostalgia?

One of the main subjects of much of contemporary Middle Eastern art is the issue of identity; not in its geo-cultural definition, but as a question for understanding and presenting one’s self to the other.
Art critics like Boris Groys believe that “identity is not about reality, but about power” . If we agree with such a definition of identity, and consider it a separate concept from our true being, we still cannot deny the connection between reality and power, and its impact on the artist’s mind.
An artist’s approach to the issue of identity cannot be considered independent of his nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or race. And without a doubt a significant portion of Iranian art today is composed of such associations. This crisis of interpretation is the result of a new set of relationships engulfing Middle Easterners, which in an inequitable balance, forces them to adapt to a new universal context; an adaptation that leads them to only consider themselves recognizable through the lens of the other.
After years of grappling with their predecessors, a new generation of Iranian artists has come to the conclusion that by using the issue of identity as a means and not an end, perhaps they can reach better results. In this new definition identity becomes a way of deleting appropriated concepts and methods of making art. In this approach identity becomes not a nostalgic reinterpretation of history, but an archive of the present. Under the title “Archiving the Present” the artists of this exhibition have focused on the issue of identity as individuals, delving deep within their own psyches. However instead of looking at it from a critical perspective, or defining this inquiry in terms of east versus west, and without reducing it to an ideological stance, they have attempted to present their identities as versions of the present, each playing a role in this act of archiving.

Hengameh Moammeri

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