At first glance, what makes Mohammadreza Mirzaei’s third solo exhibition at O Gallery different from his other series are some portraits. Unlike his previous work, here, faces are recognizable. Sometimes rather intimately gazing at the camera, even smiling, other times looking away. Yet, the voluminous light always present in Mirzaei’s photographs, puts a distance between the things we see and the thing itself. This light for a short moment, separates models and things from where they are and places them on another stage. It is not clear to us how much of the photographs are documentary and how much they are staged.
In the photographs on display, Mirzaei emphasizes on light as the main material of photography in such a way that in some photos, the light instead of letting us see, puts a blindfold on our eyes, and the images in some cases, become the visual equivalent for “failure”. These photos remind us that photography is as much about capturing and obtaining as it is about letting go and losing. And of course, this is not far from the intimate relationship or the pretense of intimacy between the photographer and the models present in the photos. Just like the relationship between photography and the light, our relationship with other humans is followed by dependency and the likelihood of loss and failure.
Michel Foucault writes in The Order of Thing: “The poet is he who, beneath the named, constantly expected differences, rediscovers the buried kinships between things, their scattered resemblances. Beneath the established signs, and in spite of them, he hears another, deeper, discourse.”* Perhaps, if we replace the word “photographer” with the word poet, this quotation won’t be an imprecise description of Mirzaei’s work. Although he works with a representing, in need of objects, medium such as photography, his mission is to problematize the “names”, places and times, and, of course, finding unexpected kinship between them. The juxtaposition of related and unrelated elements and the insistence on repetition is part of his photographic language to find this other discourse. Repetition here, apart from the title of the exhibition, which Mirzaei has chosen for the second time, happens even in the relatively accurate presentation of some scenes in different photographs and leads the photos to a kind of ambivalence. This repetition can be an emblem of Mirzaei’s photography which is like a door that is open to both sides. His work is sharing the doubt, at a time, we don’t know when it is. In the landscapes, we don’t know where they are. And in knowing and losing friends, we don’t know who they are.
* Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. London: Tavistock Publications Ltd., 1966.