13 July - 11 August 2012
|© Shahin Afrassiabi|
pine, card, cotton thread, white emulsion
Theory of Life
13 July - 11 Augsut 2012
In his exhibition Theory of Life Afrassiabi presents a series of essentially modest constructions accompanied by a single photograph of a woman taken from Google Earth digital imaging software. The constructions are a design variation on his recent Snow White (2011) series, Snow White being the brand name of basic manufactured white card, while simultaneously alluding to an iconic woman with haunting features: skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.
Afrassiabi investigates the barest components required to form an extension of a wall, a plane and a frame to hold that plane. The objects, spray coated in white emulsion, merge into the gallery walls, presenting themselves as extrapolations of the plywood structure of the wall itself while indicating the relationship between modern painting and architecture. In referring to what is behind the wall, that which the work is a part of, Afrassiabi reveals how his understanding of abstract painting emerges through architecture and vice versa, how modern painting styles, such as futurism, de stijl and purism, gave form to modern architecture.
Although a system is expressed in this series of works, it remains open and permeable, maintaining the dynamics and adventure of the studio. A vocabulary and a syntax is made available but it persists in a vivacious and raw condition that allows signification to emerge in endless variations. Perhaps this is the expectation of architecture at its most progressive as opposed to a symbolic methodology content with managing and administering familiar metaphors of space and tropes of function.
The work and the manner in which it is made can be understood as an articulation or an utterance of a way of life. Embedded within each construction are the choices that attest to a way of thinking about the world, expressed in the materials and deliberately resurrected references - curves, lines, joints and marks. In their original modernist manifestation such forms were without external referents and considered exploratory and content-less except for their objective constructive presence. Today they can not escape their representational histories, generated by reproductive technologies such as the photographic image. In his constructions Afrassiabi acknowledges these accumulative referential aspects and sets about the task of rescuing the object from the tangle of historicity, developing strategies to open up this referentiality to new possibilities. They embody an unresolved contradiction, being simultaneously themselves and an image of themselves. History is delivered up to the contingencies of the present pointing to a new future and the possibility to move forward.
As suggested above, the effect or agency of photography on objects defines modernity. In the photographic print, Call, the artist asks what it might mean to take a photograph. The resulting image is a potent symbol, both emotionally and critically engaging, it reflects on its own material construction and is very much a portrait of the technological present. There is a mismatched seam where two digital images are stitched together by the Google Earth application and the presence of dust on a re-photographed laptop screen that expose the mechanisms of the medium. It depicts a woman negotiating the mapped geometric terrain of the city as an at once familiar icon and a positively errant and energetic referent, that is an irreducible sign of life.
Shahin Afrassiabi (b. 1963, Tehran) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include New Values, Soy Capitan, Berlin (2012); Active Principles and Forms of Life, MOTINTERNATIONAL Brussels (2011) and Subject to Form, Limoncello Gallery, London (2010). Selected group exhibitions include Use & Mention, Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich, London (2010); Avec Vkhoutemas, Treignac Projet, Treignac (2009); The Condition of Display, The Moore Space, Miami (2006); Showcase Preview, South London Gallery, London (2004); Early One Morning, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2002) and The Shadows, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2002).