Mahdieh Abolhasan

The Revolving Territory

Question, criticism and quest could be regarded as holes burrowed in reality making things empty of meanings, metaphors and current implications in order to find new interpretations. The destruction process as a long-lasting action in making artworks came into being in the form of demolishing the material structure of the work as a symbol of social imposed structures with all protesting radical forms. If sculptures in their classical forms were made by action and reaction between the artist and material through removal and destruction, this trend in the contemporary art becomes a kind of socio-political action against many social structures. But Mahdyeh Aboul Hassan creates her works by applying the creative power of destruction in a space among the radical activism and self-possession and the stolidity of conceptual works. The autogenic totality of artist, i.e. the dense volume and multi-layered material, is criticized here in a controlled manner, an action not so much destructive but more self-critical: interfering in what we have made to create something new has a critical and skeptical relation with the original structure. In the recent collection, figurative forms with clear implications to female gender are made from the depth of this critical action. This is considered an action a thinker, an intellect, a feminist and a philosopher takes in dealing with pre-determined social structures: questioning the extant reality for causing tension and instability. But the feminine element in these works at the same time is the result of interference in material from outside and the submission of form to declare independence from inside: the edge of the holes in some sculptures looks like a few moments after the inner explosion of a volcano. Hence, these symbolic figures and hollow forms receive as much as they give. They represent the stereotype features that gender and the generic nature of woman introduces on the basis of factors such as reception, hollowness, absence and the lack of masculine genital organ and therefore display a double characteristic. Here, the female element appears as a hole throwing something from inside towards the outer world (as a metaphor for birth) inviting for a quest and contemplation into its complicated multi-layered nature where looking at oneself will be connected to delving into the work through the element of mirror. In this collection the emerged nature of the numerous material layers of works (after destruction) will result in the creation of a female factor in the form of concentric circles which like the natural forms of tree trunks are reminiscent of antiquity and duration. Beyond the relations established between the woman and natural elements like homeland and sun, the implications of the works for forms and treatments of nature move once again towards the violation of old natural structures: in drawings, organic forms transform into distorted shapes. This is actually the removal of natural elements not for the aim of creating a new nature, burrowing a hole in the reality nor filling it with another reality, but making a passage for the flow of the current of transient and diverse interpretations, just like a passage whose mirror at the end reflects various portraits. It is just a part of the story of such works and other ones that choose metaphors of gender etc. as their subject. From another viewpoint, dealing with materials and artistic creation does not give an excuse for talking about something else outside the artwork such as "femininity", but it is the process of the artist's encounter with material and her action in facing with that. This forms a part of the work's implications in connection with the outside themes as well as the definition of art in general. The artist in here is well traversing these two aspects: the literal and metaphoric display of a symbol is giving its place to a process in which symbols are made and then inspected. Certainly, any works of art or collections could be placed and read in the continuation of a series of similar works, styles and subjects obtaining some parts of their semantic implications in their relationships with related works. For this collection too, we can bear in mind various predecessors and find it in conversation with many other works, from Georgia O'keeffe's flowers to Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party and from Ana Mendieta's silhouettes to Hannah Wilke's figures as well as a lot of contemporary works of body art and nudes form the classic period up to the present. But the important matter here is the evolution of works into a contemporary structure and the continuation of this historical way towards the acknowledgement of the subject of woman and the evolution of art in general. It is the subject of woman in the form of works which are not a mere representation of an avant-garde action but an intellectual one in confrontation with the material and subject. The criticism of the artist for history, material and existence is an essential factor which bears important relations with technique and contemplation. Despite avoiding emotional, stimulating and radical actions, it uses their active power to exercise contemplation.
Mahsa Farhadikia
July 2016