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“A Memorial for Today” ( فارسی )


Date Oct.21,Nov14 - 2011

“A Memorial for Today” is a stage photography project. The photos are taken from interior spaces. Characters of this new series have closed their eyes and bowed their heads down; except for that everything else seems normal. These characters behavior is a sign of decency and humbleness; such interpretation is a direct signal to the meaning of the Artist’s home land name: Iran. Etymology of the word Iran leads us to different resources. In the most accepted stories; Iran consists of Aeirya (Aryan) and “An” (setting suffix) meaning “the land of Aryans [Jahangir Oshidari, An encyclopedia of Zoroastrianism, Markaz publication, 1993]. But what is the meaning of “Aeirya”? Each encyclopedia translates it differently; but they all agree on two specific meanings: decency and humbleness. So we may translate “Iran” as the land of humbles. At the same time such meaning provokes another question: humbleness towards what? The answer could be found, surprisingly, in the Old cultural archetypes in Iran: “without a doubt having faith in “Xevarena” or the aura of the kings was a proof for Iranians to have believed in the power of the king –whether Iranian or not; thus the ones who thought it necessary for ruling the country; related it somehow to themselves to rule. Aura of the kings didn’t merely belong to the ruler of Iran; but any victor could gain this aura. Alexander, who destroyed Achaemenid capital of Persepolis, four century B.C., would enter Persian literature as a legendry hero whose numerous feats were extolled in the Persian book of epics, The Shahname (book of kings), where he took his place as model of the Persian royal ideal” [Art of the Persian Courts, Abolala Soudavar , with a contribution by Milo C. Beach Rizzoli, New York, 1992, p.35]. The Alexander mentioned in “Shahnameh” (The book of Lords) [Firdausi, 940–1020 A.D] is not only considered as the king of Iran; he is also mentioned as a divine soul in Nezami’s poems afterwards. There are so many examples of this kind. Contemplating in such texts shows us that it is an old archetype. Just take a look at historical stories about Mahmood Ghaznavi and then compare it with his role in mystic and lyrical literature of Iran. This archetype that now we may call as the unquestioned acceptance of the axis of power; could be one of the keys to unlock the door which leads us to etymology of Iran. Acceptance of power has a strong connection with the subject of passivity; this is the same connection between Fani’s series and the aforementioned idea. “A Memorial for Today” shows us passivity and immobility. Citizens of Fani’s land staying with closed eyes and bowed heads are waiting endlessly for their expectations! The one standing in front of the mirror to see his image; the women standing by the window supposed to see a landscape, the couple sitting in a public place waiting to order and perhaps eat something; neither of them see anything but the blackness behind their eyelids! Closing eyes and surrendering to “present” could carry variety of paradoxical meanings; but here in this world “A Memorial for Today” has turned into a ritual. It seems like citizens of Fani’s land are all performing an ancient sacrament; the sacrament that symbolizes the subject “acceptance of power”. If we agreed to monumental being a phenomenon in praise of a victory or for remembering victims of a catastrophe; we have also agreed to the fact that it is always to praise or scorn something in the past; something –happy or unhappy- we have passed. “A Memorial for Today” but, is about immobility; a series in praise of the passivity that the Artist’s compatriots have long before accepted and so is occupying their today! “A Memorial for Today” is different from the other series by Alireza Fani technically and theoretically; but in a greater prospect, the basic idea is the same as the other five series and thus could narrate a continuous story. This story –the way I see it- is very much the same as Alexander Pushkin’s “Bronze horseman” in which an ordinary employee –Evgeny- loses his love and everything he had in a flood in Saint Petersburg. Lost and fighting with insanity, he finds himself in front of the Bronzy statue of Peter the great –the founder of Saint Petersburg- and interrogates him: “you have to answer to me!” Pushkin in another verse of his poem explains the situation of Evgeny, the city Saint Petersburg and the statue of Peter the great: “[…] steady on its height above defiant Neva, rears on its steed of bronze. With outstretched arm, the idol […]”. “But this idol has created a city of men in its own image: it has transformed them, like Evgeny, into statues, monuments of despair” [All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The experience of Modernity, Marshal Berman, New York, 1982, P. 186-187].