Saba Masoumian

I've Been Left In Your Room

Closer Than Furthest House

To live the world within its boundaries, to breathe melancholia through its cavities, to penetrate the Other through his dark ways, in the world’s smallest room, the most inner limited place, to sit on world’s smallest chair… How patient is the soul to tolerate all this! Here, the worst anguishes are healed in an indescribable way.
More than anything else, it is probably the certainty of objects, places and their rigid structures which has thrown into oblivion the ephemeral quality of human existence. Certain objects and rigid walls, a water tab that drips not, a wall with non-exfoliating paint, a permanent light, a bus whose time and place remains unchanged, that which not rust or rot… how can these prepare man’s soul for the ‘great final’? In her wooden houses, Saba dusts this ancient belief: to live is a grandeur that lasts not!
The changeability of the function of objects and places within these houses as well as the temporary readymade structures bring into mind more than anything the transitory idiosyncrasy of the houses ahead, houses which apparently are located between routes and roads, next to railroads, docks, suburbs of small cities, next to bus garages or repair shops… . The absent inhabitants of these houses are usually lonely tradesmen: a local serviceman, a tailor, road traffic police, the person in charge of controlling the dosage of chloride in the swimming pools of night clubs, garage keepers, or that of hostels…
Whatever it is, it seems that they know pretty well how to recover their existence among recycling garbage, and open the way of their simple lives through these narrow passages. Few objects display their virginity in these places.
The absence of outer facades in Saba’s works does not misguide the viewer in knowing the space outside these passages: the objects which have made their way to these rooms can inform the viewer of the qualities of spaces outside it; the ambient noise and even the outside temperature can be sensed.
As such, Saba engages her interiors into a kind of dialogue between inside and outside, between stillness and movement, limitedness and infiniteness, object and what is no longer an object… She creates this dialogue her own way, constructs the interior with all its details and leaves the outside, the outside of wooden boxes, in an indescribable and lived imagination. Here, everything happens in accordance with local environment.
In her houses, Saba exhibits everything that concerns the ‘inside of a house’. And if she is not revealing what is in the back of the viewer’s mind, what else can allow looking into the most private enclosed place? Saba’s houses are amazingly close to Bachelard’s interpretation of the house: a house. I stand in front of it. I gaze at its lifeless objects so as to allow their great current of pure humility run inside me. Its internal affairs become my internal affairs and simultaneously, an internal place becomes so calm and simple that all the silence of the house becomes placed and concentrated in me. This house is deeply my house; this house is inside me. I no longer see it. The house does not limit me, for I am located in the depths of its final serenity… .
Saba, in her own way, equates ‘the inside of the house’ with ‘the house of the inside’: a place with a multiplicity of things, things belonging to one or others; a staircase leading to childhood basement, a ball in bright dark pasts, a ladder to the heated lightless ceiling of night, wooden chairs of death, a bus that passes out of a sudden through the empty passage of memory, the image of Penelope Kruz on the sexiest part of the house, the sandals of virginity, the dresses of becoming a bride, flowers of evil, baths of tedium and lust, cigarette stumps of last decisions, clocks that show no time, death in a crystal plate, cellars of forbidden loves, old frames hung on every part of this abandoned passages… Who can recognize in these houses nightmarish cries from the call, ‘ubi sund’ (where are they?) Desire and anguish have simultaneously filled the space of these narrow passages. The walls of these houses no longer tolerate even one nail.
Purses and women’s sandals which have caused uproar in psychoanalysis today now drag me into some kind of strange desire, the difficult cliffs of which I once climbed with a fast beating heart.
House and the arrangement of the objects inside it persistently remind us of what we ‘actually are’, what we hide in the lower drawers of our mind and what we develop in the upper attics of imagination.
The unifying system brings identical objects to houses, yet the objects of houses that are to come are not gathered according to such necessity. The characteristics of bricolage of objects pertaining to these absent inhabitants show that they can approximate the rigid object in a wonderful way to the geometry of their soul. In these houses, it is not only the functions of objects that merge together, rather places also lose their borders and integrate or pass through one another. The movement and interchange of objects and places, the possibility of turning and changing in place and rigid object, return the sense of security to these narrow passages. It is as if living in limited space, confines the wanderings of soul and tolerates the world within its limits. This can be considered an agoraphobic approach; an approach according to which man fears open-space and the abundance of his contingent experiences. That is why Rilke considered house the interior of man and the court of his solitude: ‘Here exists nearly no place, and the thought that nothing huge fits in this narrow passage soothes you.’ In Saba’s houses nothing huge fits in. Still from time to time the weak current of electricity cables, connect her houses to the endless current of energy! Lamps, television set, transistor radio and telephone, soothe the fear of being depressed in closed spaces.
Ubi sund qui ante nos fuerunt? (Where are those who were before us?) Did they turn into a star in another sky or tolerate the dark dust in their homeland? This time in the attic of mind and the lower cellar they pass through one another, in a humid narrow passage called ‘house’. Simultaneously, desire, boredom, horror and soothing overwhelm us when we bend and peak through the half-open chest and gaze at our childhood pictures as if the soul of the dead weighs upon our necks. Here, in these narrow passages, only the buzzing of transistor radio and the humming of the ceiling fan covers the chirping of crickets.

Vahid Hakim