Curated by Behnam Kamrani and Fereshteh Alamshah, the gallery has put video art and digital illustrations in display by Farideh Shahsavarani, Hamed Sahihi, Fereshteh Alamshah, Behnam Kamrani, and Rasoul Moarek Nejad.
Dubbed Botanical, It’s a critical exhibition on the environment and environmental crises. The exhibition demands a closer look, as the topics highlight the importance of protecting the environment:
There are five video arts through which the artists showcase their different takes on the environment using visual art and tools. This dense, slightly overstuffed exhibition reveals how a demand for more efficient ways to protect the environment is a catalyst for better life experiments. The differences in the way these topics are displayed makes the exhibition a much more satisfying experience for visitors.
In two works, humans are represented as part of the nature, and in fact the main focus. The critical theory here is apparently based on the Frankfurt School - a school of social theory founded during the interwar period, which pointed to the possibility of an alternative path to social development. In brief, the School says that a garden without plants is just earth. The artists try to show how humans have affected the nature and the surrounding environment. Preoccupied with similar questions, they raise questions of their own in the form of digital pictures.
These are minimalist pictures – or videos. Here, the human being has a devastating impact on the environment. Its destruction of the environment is showcased using symbols. In one of these videos, a man plants a sapling which grows but gradually dries up and dies because of water shortage. The man who is responsible for destruction of the tree turns it into a scarecrow. Obviously, the man has no alternative replacements for the dead tree, and is ultimately forced to leave the place empty where the tree once was.
In other works, the artists use simple digital pictures and minimalistic audio-visuals to show the growth of trees and plants and the way they are being affected and destroyed by human beings. It’s in fact a painting frame for those who try and look at these pictures from a close point of view – the elements, the colors, and the way the pictures have been arranged.
For instance, in one of the works, the artist shows lawn and a narrow stream. It first begins from a black screen and gradually fills up the space with green lines and scenery before becoming a green space on a loop. This exhibition obviously introduces the poetic artists, the works they created, and the themes implicated in their works. Above all, this exhibition presents five of the most beautiful, curious, and sensational video art works. Plants and trees are the true protagonists here. They are what animates everything that follows.
Of course, some of these pictures are unrealistic. In some works, technology is used to create pictures and allow artists to explain their ideas using editing tools. In one video, soil and stone are presented as basis for plant growth. Then some eyes appear from nowhere in the empty parts of the screen to frighten viewers. It’s a symbol for death or soil without plant that turns into a secret cemetery.
One of the most important part of this exhibition is that the art works in display are not complex or hard to understand. They represent different senses using different colors, pictures and elements. It helps viewers to understand them and allows artists to transfer their messages.
It’s a great experience. It requires a lot of time, patience and looking. But it also tells a story, an important, little-known story of video art’s messy, pluralistic origins. As such, it is one of the most richly layered, ambitious exhibitions ever held in the Iranian capital.
The problem is, this is not a commercial exhibition that could generate income for gallery owners. Still, this kind of event could be a pioneer for others to follow; exhibitions that raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment using nature-inspired artworks by contemporary Iranian artists.