RAMIN HAERIZADEH, ROKNI HAERIZADEH AND HESAM RAHMANIAN
THE STARS ARE FALLING. LET’S DRINK THEM.
September 16, 2021 - October 22, 2021
The three Iranian artists Ramin Haerizadeh (*1975 in Tehran), Rokni Haerizadeh (*1978 in Tehran), and Hesam Rahmanian (*1980 in Knoxville), understand and describe their oeuvre as an all-encompassing »work in progress«. Thus, in the artist collective's immersive installations already existing and new art works constantly merge into a new cross-genre compound of the old and the recent, the found and the invented, the Western and the Oriental.
Persian tradition and Western modernity, high culture and camp, ancient tales and current contemporary history collide to merge into a very own cosmos of strong visual effects, furious dynamics, uninhibited staging, and aesthetics. In a humorous, eccentric, and multi-layered way, their paintings, collages, and videos provoke in the observer unexpected encounters that draw attention to the pressing political and social conflicts of our time, and they question not only power mechanisms as well as normative gender roles, but from times also the art world per se.
With The Stars Are Falling. Let's Drink Them, HELDENREIZER Contemporary presents the first gallery exhibition of the Iranian artist collective in Germany. The visual centre of the show is formed by two video works: If I Had Two Paths I Would Choose the Third (2020) and From Sea to Dawn (2016/17) from the Moving Paintings series. The Moving Paintings are based on the artists' own archives of photographs, videos, and media reports. They collage and paint over images, video parts and stills from this archive, which they subsequently animate through the rotoscoping process. The painted parts of those images unfold a disruptive moment in the films of Haerizadeh, Haerizadeh, and Rahmanian. Often moving in the opposite direction to the movements of the original material, the resulting films alienate and transform the familiar. The resulting visual and semantic ruptures open new perspectives for the viewer. It allows to reassess the emerging topics from a new standpoint.
Behind the work, If I Had Two Paths I Would Choose the Third, lies the artist trio's critical examination of the post-factual concepts of truth, that are so characteristic of our time. The authentic footage of the fall of Baghdad on April 3, 2003, is obviously overlaid by a reality tied to the viewer's imagination. The painted film material is transformed into a kind of trip. Sinister sceneries full of mystical hybrid beings, grotesque monsters, humanoid animals, pulsating plants, and surreal mirror effects arise. The result is a fascinating and oppressive film, which is charged with ancient symbols and patterns, constantly moving back and forth between the documentary character of the source material and the content of the painting that ascending like a mysterious prophecy.
In their provocative work From Sea to Dawn, which shows moving news images of people fleeing, Haerizadeh, Haerizadeh, and Rahmanian also use painting to alienate the source material. Seemingly trivial, almost childlike, and irritating treatments interfere with the horror and tragedy of the events. Ladybug wings cover the refugees’ faces, apparently lifeless bodies are being ornamented and appear as seemingly alive mixed creatures. Fugitives without heads and legs walk through fantastic worlds. The provocation, however, arises less from the scandalous failure of all those responsible, which is made clear in the news footage shown. Instead, the polarization feeds on the defiance of "typical European narratives" and the subversive undermining of ingrained narratives. The resulting alienation effect, created entirely in the Brechtian sense, makes the events once again present with emphatic topicality.
On one of the exhibition walls the observer will be able to see two poems, displayed together with the works on paper entitled Where To? Wherever It Chances (2020-21). They are from the elegiac epic Nassim's Testament (2016) by Iranian poet Vahid Davar. In the year Davar wrote this epic, he encountered the works of Rokni Haerizadeh, Ramin Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian for the first time at the Liverpool Biennial. Four years later, they met by coincidence in person. Like the artist trio, Davar once fled Iran. As a refugee he eventually came to Liverpool, where he wrote Nassim's Testament. In the epic he tells the story of his escape from his own perspective as well as from the imagined perspective of his deceased friend.
The epic is a playful lament with the character of an awake. It not only laments but also tells stories, makes jokes, performs dances, and experiments with various forms of poetic expression. The series Where To? Wherever It Chances by Haerizadeh, Haerizadeh, and Rahmanian similarly address the refugee crisis in relational and epic ways. It originates from the artists' exchanges with their poet friend. The title is taken from a traditional, ceremonial Persian poetry called "Chavoshi," which is recited at the beginning of a pilgrimage. These poems were said to encourage travellers to forget their problems and embark on the journey. Where To? Wherever It Chances depicts the moment of settlement when migrants begin to arrive and establish themselves. The final destination remains unclear, but they have already completed the dangerous and treacherous part of their journey. In an elegant, mocking, satirical and apocalyptic way they seek a sincere answer to the question of how we represent in the 21st century what the artists call the »chaos of the world«. This includes the limits and pitfalls of representation itself.
Contrasting to this appear the works from the series Madame Tussauds (2021), in which the artists satirically illuminate the anachronistic cult of the currently most famous monarchy. To this end, they collage and paint well-known, sometimes iconic photographs of the royal family, such as the English monarch's 1976 ride in an open limousine to Trinity Church in New York, where she claimed 279 years of rent in the form of 279 peppercorns in a ceremony. A crowd of fabulous mixed creatures and animals cheer the high dignitaries, whose heads are transformed into noses. The royal protocol is exposed in its absurdity and dusty nostalgia. In Madame Tussauds, the representative architecture becomes a backdrop, the royal house a garden of fairy tales and myths, the court a fantasy world, at the top of which stands either a nose, a hat, or an indeterminable »something«.
16.09.2021 - 22.10.2021
Türkenstr. 32, 80335 Munich