December 23, 2016
O Gallery presents “Fluid Flipping Form” by Shirin Sabahi; a collection of paper and fabric collages, in-situ window installations and a film.
Having been inspired by Noriyuki Haraguchi’s 1977 Matter and Mind (The Oil Pool) at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and the anime series that she had watched on Iranian TV during the 1980s, in 2016 Sabahi travelled to Japan to work on two distinct yet related projects around reduced and abstract forms and the possibilities of assigning dissimilar functions to them.
Using geometrically-patterned origami paper, Sabahi started out by making collages of familiar anime characters, the product of the early prominence of Kawaii (Cute) culture. Dealing with these cultural products and merchandise as such, she soon became more interested in the leftover paper, putting together the waste cutouts to create new forms. The results of this visual study is the series called Economy Collages. Her investigations into rounded forms are informed by Sianne Ngai’s The Cuteness of the Avant-garde (2005); on the surface cute is soft, approachable and harmless but on a closer observation, it can be willful and controlling. Further reflecting upon the Cute aesthetics, in Flippers she created double-sided silhouettes in consumer textiles, incorporating both senses of sight and touch.
Also on display is Borrowed Scenery, a film about Noriyuki Haraguchi’s minimal sculpture in Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Having been fascinated with the work’s perfect reflective surface made of waste oil and her repurposing of it as an object of play, she followed the artist to his studio in Japan. The film consists of visits to the former sites of his works in Tokyo and elsewhere and an interview with the artist where he reflects on his sculptural practice and his reasoning behind using liquids and discarded materials. He also shares anecdotes about his work in Tehran.
Lastly in Window Session (46 Khosrow Alley, Villa St., 1698814315 Tehran), the third iteration in the series—after its first install in Tokyo and second install in Reykjavik—she applies patterns to the exhibition space windows. The patterns are reminiscent of a common practice during crises like the World War II in England and Japan and the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s where to minimise the casualties caused by broken glass, the windows would be secured by tape. Hinting at the vulnerability of the physical as well as the ideological space of the exhibition, the work brings back a generally discontinued pattern.
Revisiting, recycling and repurposing have been tools that Sabahi has often returned to in her practice. “Fluid Flipping Form” revisits the move from the ornate to the minimal and the shapes and geometries that have become ubiquitous in this process.
This year Shirin Sabahi has exhibited her work at The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and Goya Curtain, Tokyo. She was the recipient of the 2nd Magic of Persia Prize in 2011 and subsequently a resident at Delfina Foundation in 2012. She works primarily with and around moving images. Born in 1984 in Tehran, Sabahi currently lives and works in Berlin and “Fluid Flipping Form” marks her second solo presentation in Tehran after her first exhibition back in 2010.