Nazgol Ansarinia examines the systems and networks that underwrite her daily life. Born and raised in Tehran, she dissects, interrogates and recasts everyday objects and events to draw out their relationships to the contemporary Iranian experience. She reveals the inner workings of a social system by taking apart its components before reassembling them to uncover collective assumptions and their underlying rules of engagement.
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: KIOSK Archive
Nazgol Ansarinia presents her solo exhibition “Fragments, Particles and the Mechanisms of Growth” at KIOSK in Ghent, Belgium. Her work is characterised by an emphasis on research and analysis that is a legacy of her design background, as well as by her continued engagement with critical theory. The artist’s background in design informs her practice, which employs a variety of media: video, 3D printed models, municipal murals and drawings, and subjects as varied as automated telephone systems, American security policy, the memories associated with a family house, and the patterns of Persian carpets. Nazgol Ansarinia grows along with Tehran, a city that its face is rapidly changing, with a population of around 8.8 million in the city and 15 million in its larger metropolitan area. In the years since the revolution, Iran’s reconstruction has been twofold. The post-1979 economic recovery has resulted in a flurry of new buildings, along with a tidal wave of gentrification and widening income disparity. It is joined by a sustained invocation of nostalgia for the Iranian pastoral, and the ancient Persian civilizations that looks to construct a scaffolding of renewed national identity and pride. The artist turns a social system, an urban development or set of rules inside-out, dissects and interrogates them in order to reveal a collective consciousness or feeling in their reconstruction. In her exhibition, she films and analyses the demolition of a building in Tehran and incorporates the ‘traces’ of the process as video and sculpture. For the video work “Fragment 1, Demolishing buildings, buying waste” the artist says “I became interested in this dual process of destruction and construction of the housing sector, this grey zone that reveals so much about where we’re at. I’m fascinated by the socio-economic forces driving this change, the prevailing wave that pulls people into making two out… The entire house, sandwiched between two others, was brought down entirely with pickaxes and shovels. My goal with the video footage I now have is to capture moments between demolition and creation and illustrate the idea that for every building that has gone up, an equal amount of rubble was first created”. It is a relationship that, in her experience, is not antagonistic, but complementary. The city’s construction is actually its destruction, and vice versa, for each new building there is an equal amount of material that is being shoved aside. The rubble that is carried away in the video is symbolically reinstated as a new building brick at the exhibition space. The rubble is laid open, sorted and reconstructed into new plaster and ceramic sculptures. Alongside these, the artist also presents a series of collages in which she weaves together articles on politics or economics from different Iranian newspapers into mosaics. The connecting thread that runs through all works in the show can be summed up with Ansarinia’s underlying thought that “I’m a deconstructionist who reconstructs the torn apart elements that show something new about something so banal that has gone unnoticed, so repetitive that it became part of routine life”. This is her way to get a handle on the innumerable mechanisms of growth that currently define this city, and to give them form.
Info: KIOSK, Louis Pasteurlaan 2, Ghent, Duration: 2/12/17-4/2/18, Days & Hours: Mon-Fri 14:00-18:00, Sat-Sun 11:00-18:00, www.kioskgallery.be