By SHABAHANG TAYYARI, MAY 2014
When we talk about Iran's photography, immediately cliche images start to unfold in our head. For example, veiled or unveiled women and furry men decorated with Persian calligraphy or in a more fashionable way, the photos with exotic and exaggerated images of a naked body or images with the hidden eroticism under the veil. They all are visual reportages of certain social phenomenon in Iran which circle around the familiar issues such as freedom, identity, and the role of the women in society; they are everything but genuine photography. So, putting such cliches aside, I would like to introduce remarkable works of photography. Hadi Fallahpisheh (born.1987) is an Iranian based artist who follows a different path from such cliches through his art practice. Fallahpisheh's photography is a way out, and at the same time is a reassemblage of cliche incidents. Also, his work conveys the half-beauty existing in the inner life of a desperate people. Simultaneously it is an emphasis on the importance of the production of new and creative images beyond reality. Indeed, through his photography, Fallahpisheh edits the existing flaws in the life of people, nature, and himself.
In his photo-installation collection titled USPrime the artist appropriates images of American postcards with backside letters sent to a family in Iran from USA. An American immigrant, Parviz (the author of the letters) hopes to motivate the rest of his family to immigrate to the United States. The subject of the letters is mostly about technological accomplishments and new cultural trends. Imagine the wonder of the people of a new developing country such as Iran; the combination of “American Dream” and the frenzy of progress. In USPrime, the artist’s interest mostly edges towards the period after The Islamic Revolution of 1979, an era in which dreams turned into ashes - shouts of excitement gave into suppression. In this period, Fallahpishe desperately but gracefully resuscitates his dying dreams and shares a self-made excitement with the viewer, not to bring a sense of joy or nostalgia but to simply declare the necessity of having a dream. The dream creates hope but both dream and hope lose their essences under the power of chance. For example, a sense of defeated 'hope' can be seen in his mechanical firefighter sculpture trying to flame the fire. Also, we can see the role of 'chance' in Fallahpishe's video titled Conquest of Paradise; Basketballs falling down from the sky towards the target symbolically creating the American flag while hitting the basket. Fallahpisheh says , ''To me “USPrime” was experiencing a recurrent idea. When I start dreaming in order to see no harm I imagine the failure of my dream - just as if you have been heard or told the story of defeated love, you can accept your love defeat with open arms and ease.
Uncertainty has always been an important issue in Fallahpishe's work. The sense of doubt can be seen in The Immigrants series. Images of the hopeful Afghanis who immigrated to Iran illegally for a better life. But here, Fallahpishe does not want to take journalistic photos of a cultural or social phenomena. He gives the camera to the immigrants, so they can capture their most private and hopeful moments of their life by themselves. Here, the artist depicts his own personal failure of dreams and withdraws as an artist. Fallahpisheh looks at us not as the viewer but along with the Immigrants from inside the photos. The artist’s never-ending doubt and bitter poetic delineation can be also seen in the series “I'm comming back home”. In this series, he depicts himself picking the fruits with ghostlike hands from his ancestral garden and by capturing this scene, the artist's doubt becomes eternal. From another perspective, these works could be an elegy for his farmer ancestors.
Censorship, blocking, and limitation have always created a peculiar curiosity in the subjected societies. We can see the Fallahpisheh's tricky and tactful play with concept of the censorship in the Sequences series and how he dodges the trap of themes of such stereotypes like limitation which is the most recurrent theme in oppressed societies. In this series, the artist appropriates images from porn movies' sequences and erases the figures, then he reconstructs the vacancy of the figures with graphic software according to the background. Titles of the created photos are as the same as the movies'. The final result is a manipulated image of a typical American furniture setting. Seeing the photo and reading the title, we can’t help but to smile naughtily as we start to imagine the actors/actress in the vacant space but this time with our own taste and natural disposition. Also, in the Rooms series, artist photographs some of his female friends' rooms by adding a picture frame of teen porn stars secretly during their absence.
Due to all the story, Fallahpisheh's work is not just about a Middle-eastern phenomenon or a specific subculture. It can be read, viewed, and appreciated as counter-intuitive to its origin. Fallapisheh more than frequently hints on the notion of shaping trends and breaking taboos in Iran’s society. So, we can’t ignore the social, political, and cultural influences on his work but all of these are in underlying layers of the works and, mostly an apparatus to lead towards his personal emotion and poetry. Specifically, in his early works including photography,video, and installation titled Things To Know (Persian Technique) he unchains himself from focusing on a particular subject. And this time, he makes an effort to edit the subjects before shooting. More than ever he is following his instinct and capability to make dreams come true in his art; it varies from turning off the light of a candle with a scissors to the moment of the advent of a prophet. In his recent video titled "Wind", he illustrates his uncanny mind in a very realistic and poetic way; he symbolically talks about the hands 'behind the scene' which hold back his dream. As he says, "While producing this series, I perform as an image making machine or a poet who searchs out everywhere for the most 'unfamiliar'; and at this point, I discover alike a stranger to whom everything looks strange."
Shabahang Tayyari is a visual artist and video gamer based in Iran. He recived BA in Painting from Soore Art University and has exhibited in Maryam Harandi Gallery, Etemad Gallery, Asar Art Gallery and etc. His work also has been reviewed in Golestane Magazine. He is the co-founder of Secretaries Vs Securites which is an independent group working with multiple media. http://secretariesvssecurities.com http://shabahangtayyari.tumblr.comview all articles from this author