Tiziana Di Caro Gallery will be hosting the first solo exhibition in Italy of New York based artist Shadi Harouni (Hamedan, Iran, 1985), entitled An Index of Undesirable Elements, opening on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 19:00, in the gallery at Piazzetta Nilo 7, Naples.
In her work, Shadi Harouni employs a range of mediums, from sculpture to video, printmaking, text and photography. The themes she addresses are rooted in the history of her native Iran; she often engages in a play with language to connect this history to a universal experience of loss, repression, recovery and defiance. Her work centers on the politics of space and of the gaze, and the tension between the moment of revealing and that of concealment. Her work often evokes a relationship between fullness and cavities, taut with the tension of hiding and the desire to reveal.
An Index of Undesirable Elements opens with a dysfunctional neon sign. The piece re-enacts a forgotten store sign in a provincial city in Iran. Written in Farsi, it spells out the name of the popular Iranian Prime Minister Mosadegh, a symbol of hope and progress, overthrown in 1953 through a coup d’état organized by the American and British intelligence services. But the sign lights up partially, revealing only a fragment of the name, i.e. the ending degh which in Farsi means death from heartbreak.
The exhibition continues with a series of five monoprints, pulled from a larger body of work. The abstract ethereal forms pressed onto paper are rooted in real events and archival work in Iran. They evoke narratives and people, as well as locales, landscapes, and monuments. They recall the history of sacred objects created to call in what is no longer there. Each is accompanied by a text written in the first person, that functions both as a narrative and a commentary. Here, the weight of politics is merged with the poetic, bringing out poignant themes, at the basis of which we find a persisting attempt to erase history, dodge progress, prevent memory.
A sculptural element stretching across the floor leads us to the final room where the video I Dream the Mountain is Still Whole is projected. Set in the isolated landscape of a quarry in the mountains of Kurdistan, the video features the first-person narration of a man who stands as a figure of political resistance, of the values of individuals marginalized by society. The monumental nature of this work is contrasted by another, presented in miniature form. Here, the pretext for narration is an absurd game of football played in the rocky mountainside, for which the artist herself acts as a ball girl. The presence of the woman on the scene becomes comical, as the players are both amused and embarrassed by her performance of labor. The levity of the game dampens the resignation of the project’s protagonist, who is forced to live in exile, deprived of his real life, in order to survive and bear witness.