There Is No Us

“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?” says Hamlet when he sees the dead court jester whose skull is exhumed by the First Gravedigger. The contrast between Yorick as "a fellow of infinite jest " and his grim remains reflects on the theme of Memento mori ('Remember you shall die') which is common in 16th- and 17th-century painting. It appears in art throughout Europe where the portrait of a man of fortune meets a skull; For example, have a look on “young man with a skull” by Frans Hals.

Any artist through their own created world, talks to us. But what does it exactly mean “their own created world” here? and what do they talk about? One possible answer would be that the artist by her symbols demonstrates an extraordinary or unique experience which made a huge impact on her mind evolve or personal concepts. Hence from one point of view she enriches the book of symbols of us and from another point of view she crystalizes a turning point in her storyline. Put it differently, she wipes out the dust from the legacy house of symbols and provides assistance to us for our possible passage or certain departure. Again whether by her symbolic helps we underpin our wishful narration, or by recalling the whole self we overcome our doubts or fears.

“There is no us, no. 2” is a reminiscence of Hamlet monologue even though instead of any sight of ordinary skull in frame, we encounter a doll-like creature whose primeval skull covered by a silicon skin; along with a bold smile but totally far away from our sensible life. But in “there is no us” we witness a moth which might be a symbol of evolution.

Although moth is not only a symbol of transformation which turns a larva to a flying being. Actually if in “the silence of the lambs” it is an emblem of death which nests in the deep of the victim’s mouth, in mythology it represents some wander and lethal misery. Because it is said that the moth’s ultimate flying aim is to reach to the silvery moon in the heaven. But by a slight ignorance when they encounter a much closer and weaker light, they could be distracted with their possible forever lost at the end.

Samira Eskandarfar in “you pat my head” reminds Odysseus’s trouble in an island to us... When Paris abducts Helen, Menelaus asks Greeks to join his army to return her, so Odysseus travels to Troy. He leaves his wife –Penelope- in Ithaca but maybe he could not imagine that he is going to camp at Troy’s gate for 10 years. Even worse it takes another 10 years to embrace his land and family when several times he gets lost in seas and foreign lands.

Once he washes ashore on the island of Ogygia, where Calypso compels him to remain as her lover for seven years. But Odysseus knows that he does not belong to there and at any cost he must escape… Later in another drama, a Cyclops locks up Odysseus and his crew in his cave until they take a wooden stake, ignite it with the wine, blind him, and run away.

Smaira Eskandarfar in her new works –there is no us- seems takes a totally novel road where just one portrait conquers the whole canvas. Maybe temporarily but you do not see any kind of dialogue here as you may find with a couple of faces on a canvas. It looks she is in middle of some kind of personal meditation and tries to find her whole self, as a cat which symbolizes this self-seek journey.

If the eye is covered in a canvas it may indicate to a cyclops who imprisoned her in his cave, as we have informed of “there is no us” along with an eye thrown out in a fruit bowl. Even in “you pat my head” she may point out to a transient tempt which hindered her from flying towards the silvery moon.

Carl Gustave Jung says: “In any dream if you find yourself surrounded by some ladies who call departure, it could be a hint from your unconsciousness which carelessly abandoned. To recover your whole self-there is no way rather than listening to these ladies which threatened us by their leave. Samira Eskandarfar in her new works meets some modern and classic symbols (in intersection of Shakespeare, Thomas Harris and Homer). Not like a tourist but as a sailor who jeopardizes her life in troubled waters, and at the end her souvenir is all ladies who awake us.

Jalal Alikhani

There Is No Us