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Afshin Dehkordi series Muniments: Iran, is both beautiful and interesting. It is -so far as we can tell - a work about borders, perception and the photographers relationship with the east and the west and his movement from one to the other. That is a little simplistic. Consider the simplicity a reaction to the text of the press release for the work.
Muniments: Iran is about a lot of things according to the text. We at GMEP may lack the vocabulary or the intelligence to easily digest the statement, but in its effort to say so much, we've been overwhelmed by the maze the words create and the work has been overshadowed. That is a shame because the work is strong and of course, the text should strengthen it by adding context. The writing by Annabelle Sreberny, down-loadable from Dehkordi's site, does a better job of illustrating this context via George Orwell and Dehkordi's Work from an Unknown Irananian Journalist.
The press release tells us the work is about "...the utopia of a perceived reality and the ambiguity of physical borders." It is about "...cultural identity and the way it is refracted and reconstructed through photography and by the media." So far so good.
The works also "display the underlying drama and construction of the ’story,’ inherent within the language of journalism and an important concern within Muniments. A shift in awareness occurs as the mix between migration, architecture and borders reveals seductive social and personal ideals or longings that are sharply displaced from focus." "Muninents interest lies in the politics of appearance, in terms of tracing experiences, memories and histories that are rendered largely invisible and how this invisibility occurs in reality."
You may also be interested to know, "The exhibition appears to move between the surfaces of a personal use of utopia—not escapist or apolitical, but one where it becomes a critical force against the perceived reality that exists and the closed bi-cultural language of the past."
It's possible this language leads some people to believe the work is more profound or important, and artist statements and texts about art have a tradition of this approach. However, crossing the line between authoritative and inaccessible is at odds with GMEP's attempts at raising awareness and understanding of photography from the greater Middle East.
Dehkordi's work is featured in the book Contemporary Art in the Middle East. Published by Black Dog publishing, the book is the first in an ARTWORLD series meant to "open up the most challenging and under-exposed art scenes in the world." That's certainly a mandate we support completely.
Muniments: Iran is currently being exhibited (Sept. 30 - Nov. 11) at the Black Dog space in London. 10A Acton Street + 44 (0) 207 713 5097
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