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Farhad Moshidi



The New York Times

Published: April 8, 2005

'Welcome' Kashya Hildebrand Gallery 531 West 25th Street, Chelsea Through April 16 Organized by the Tehran-based artist Farhad Moshiri, this vivacious group show demonstrates, among other things, the proposition that fine art, traditional craft and pop culture have long since infiltrated one another's borders in contemporary Iran just as surely as they have everywhere else in the world. Cut-and-paste is a prevailing aesthetic here. Through photomontage and other techniques, the studio portraitist Bahram Afandizadeh and the street photographer Medhdi Hosseinzadeh transport their subjects to fanciful settings. Ebraheem Zinali Khamne creates international-style interiors by joining clips of Western furniture and Persian carpets. The artist Fereydoun Ave collages images of fruit, flowers and champion wrestlers in tableaus that refer to the heroic epics of ancient Persia. Collaboration is standard practice. The couturier team of Michael Sears and Hushi Mortezaie offer madly detailed hybrids of Western and Middle Eastern apparel. Shirin Aliabadi and Mr. Moshiri print photographs of film stars, athletes and weddings on porcelain dinner plates that are laid out as if for a feast. And a sense of cultural inquiry floats, lightly, over all. Both Mr. Moshiri's photographs of new buildings in Tehran and Peyman Hooshmandzadeh's close-ups of mustaches and belt buckles have the look of ethnographic field studies.

What's notable is that these studies aren't done by outside visitors. They are self-studies, and they turn the show itself into a kind of cultural self-portrait. The portrait is shaped by the varied forms of modernity it encompasses, and by what it resists, namely a particular kind of self-exoticizing that the international art market tends to reward. It is also shaped by a force it can't resist but can use to its own ends: the pervasive effects of Western global capitalism, which simultaneously promote ethnic marketing and eats away at Otherness. Keeping a critical grip on all of this is a delicate matter. Someone is always getting the picture wrong by someone else's lights. And it is possible to have problems with including commercial street photography in an exhibition that plays with the idea of kitsch. Under the circumstances, Mr. Moshiri is wise to keep as many ideas in the air as possible, as he does here, and to keep those ideas flexible, ambiguous and welcoming. The show has a small catalog with texts by Negar Azimi, Lisa Farjam, Tirdad  Zolghadr and by the curator. It's good looking, a good read, and nicely rounds  out an unusually informative project.


Link to Exhibition


Farhad Moshiri