Amir Farsijani


It seems that the proposition that critical art should be located in a terrain other than that of institutes and galleries is an overriding hypothesis in today's art world—a hypothesis that is rooted in the deep-seated tradition of cultural studies in which the street or in a more macro view, the public space, is the recognized setting for outrage, oppositions and gatherings. On one hand, many academic studies and discussions related to art and fame are focused on analyzing the question of summoning back the political in a “post-political” space inclined toward constructed-hegemonic consensus and consent (Mouffet 2005), a space that in today's Iran is called the discourse of moderation, a discourse that despite superficial disagreements with technocratic discourses is dedicated to utilizing pragmatic and capitalistic (in our discussion with regard to the city) policies. Meanwhile art is considered as a phenomenon with the potential of presenting strong catalysts toward creation of transformative political forms, forms that in their weakest levels can at least lead to thinking about a series of contemporary civil and spatial problems.
But with regard to what has been discussed, at which juncture of critical art would the works of Amir Farsijani be located? An art praxis which on the one hand takes place at the Valiasr Junction and EnqelabStreet with all its social and political specters, especially in the past seven years, and on the other hand is chosen for exhibition in a gallery again with all its associations with art history. Perhaps by way of considering the two concepts of spatial tactics and spatial strategies as discussed by Michel de Certeau in his book The Practice of Everyday Life (1984), one can explain such localization. For de Certeau, the concept of “strategy” is described in relation to predetermined and static structure-locations defined by foundations and organizations of power which are the producers; conversely “tactic” is defined vis-a-vis the everyday practice/action of life by members of the society who are the consumers, actions/practices that have the ability to disturb the order and consensus desired by hegemonic systems. If we take the maze installed in the gallery space as the representative of “strategy”, the action/practice of citizens —here probably the audience of the exhibition— in their refusal to accept the specified paths, can be recognized as a proper instance of the concept of “tactic”.
All the solutions offered by civil foundations for exerting regulation and control over the movements of citizens in defined spaces with all the motivations guided by politics and security represent the various and different layers of one or more “strategies” and Amir Farsijani himself as a creative citizen who subverts consensus—in its discursive sense— is not only the producer of “tactics” for disturbing these layers, but additionally illustrates the moments of interaction and confrontation between strategies and tactics that are visualized in the folded bodies which represent civil and human layers (the prints) and joins in their narrative. Moreover, his astute decision to turn a gallery —as a strategic and predetermined space for sale— to a conceptual and “tactical” space, without the presence of figurative sculptures which had previously been installed as a means of artivism (to be read parallel to activism) in a public space and not for sale, again —indirectly—causefoldings of discursive and semantic layers.
“Foldings” narrates the moments of collision between contradictory forces in the field of the public space of today’s Tehran.

July 2016

deCerteau, Michel (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
Mouffe, Chantal (2005). On the political.London/New York: Routledge