Dustopedia: Moving Dust
Courator: Amirali Ghasemi / Parking Video Library
Moving Dust brings together a series of videos from the Parking Video Library revolving around the representation of dust in moving images in the works of Iranian artists and filmmakers. Moving Dust features works by Anahita Hekmat, Arash Khosronejad, Arash Fesharaki, Saman Khosravi, Nazgol Emami, Ali Momeni, Minou Iranpour, Amirali Mohebbinejad, Aria Farajnejad, Nassrin Nasser, and Bahram Beyzai.
Moving Dust teaser by Amirali Ghasemi
The program starts with a TV glitch familiar to many Iranians living inside the country, followed by free-wheeling cameras, concerned souls, onlookers, and workers moving “Dust.”
In Keanser (Cancer), Arash Khosronejad, a musician, and a digital-artist uses the low-quality signals on satellite television to create a suspense-scape where a floating fog of noise leaves no room for escape from the immersive darkness. There have been speculations about the waves which are sent to interfere with satellite signals in Iran and some strongly believe that they are causing cancer in people.
Ali Momeni’s Smoke and Hot Air which was created in collaboration with Robin Mandel takes on the ever-increasing threats against Iran. The machine is created to pick up news featuring sentences that include “attack Iran” are scavenged from Google News and spoken using a text-to-speech synthesizer. The voice is then picked up by a microphone, analyzed, and translated into rhythmically corresponding smoke rings from a quartet of smoke ring makers. While signaling fear, translated on the spot from threats spread worldwide into identical smoke rings coming out of an unstoppable machine, the room is gradually filled with smoke as the tension rises. This 2008 piece, is still valid and pertinent ten years later where an uncertain shadow is hanging over us all.
In The End of the World is ..., Mohebbinejad tries to recreate a void, juxtaposing the dialogues from the film Naked – directed by Mike Leigh – with images of floating dust particles, unknown shimmering creatures as he puts it, “coming into being and passing away.” This dystopian piece uses minimum requirements to depict the moment dust particles, their eminent presence in every space, are activated by a ray of light and then shuts down every other second.
Minou Iranpour’s Bein is an abstract journey, an alienated landscape based on her life experiences as she puts it, Bein is something happening “in between.” Abstract images shot with a digital camera, do not leave much to interpretation while the sepia tone applied on the film, fades traces of any familiar scene which can lead to any possible guess. Iranpour wants the viewer to stay with her on this short journey.
Anahita Hekmat has two pieces in Moving Dust: Arg-e-Bam (CITADELLE), revisits the aftermath of a 6.6 earthquake in the city of Bam, in the Kerman province of southeastern Iran, which destroyed Arg-e Bam, the world's largest adobe structure, dating back to at least 500 B.C. The trace, which was made a year before, follows a journey to Shahda, a village near Yazd, which is one of the last places to resist the encounter between Islam and Zoroastrianism in Iran. Hekmat’s camera often follows a historic trail and arrives at locations which have been collecting dust for a long time like a wind, even when it’s too late.
Nassrin Nasser’s fragile and illuminating Raining Ashes transports us toward an uncertain moment of decision which some of us might be familiar with: a fictional relationship between a prisoner in solitary confinement and an activist. The prisoner is imagining the activist writing to her out of vigilance and sympathy. Finally, the illusion turns out to belong more to the writer than the prisoner.
A witness, a virtual activist, or a performance artist? Aria Farajnezhad elaborates on this in his video piece: “All solid video performance is a dark metaphor, which ridicules itself too. The image of a man facing a pile of raw materials is not staged or lighted. The industrial shed remained intact. The only theatrical role is taken by the artist. The permanent shouting, which causes a dramatic atmosphere in the first part, seems poor and absurd when it is being performed in the empty space. All is solid melts into air, even the monument of the artist’s heroic act.”
There are three pieces in Moving Dust, featuring workers; all busy demolishing and building Tehran’s cityscape. Their fragile condition and that of their working conditions are reflected in three fragmented perspectives from documentary cameras to Bahram Beizai’s scene from his nationally acclaimed feature film “Killing the Mad Dogs,” portrays Golrokh Kamali’s struggle in the concrete jungle of post-war Tehran. The workers’ influx as their employers’ money in Iranian Rial bills being thrown in the air by Golrokh, sends mixed signals of how Beyzai depicts them transforming from obedient servants to greedy hooligans, raiding their bosses’ possessions. Arash Fesharaki’s sunset landscape is as bitter as it is stunning as the sun goes down and workers are destroying the villa which they are standing on to make space for a tower obscuring the same view. And finally, in Saman Khosravi’s The Destructed Ones, as the artist wakes up to witness the night shift of destruction next door he writes: “When an old building in front of my work studio was being demolished I started shooting its gradual disappearance, but while I was recording the demolition, the construction workers and their miserable conditions caught my attention and instinctively I got my camera focused on them instead.”
As the program reaches the end and is about to be looped soon, we reach the final piece by Nazgol Emami, a viral soundscape described by her, created around and named after, a computer virus called “you are an idiot :) :) :)”
Amirali Ghasemi – April 2018
Works in screening order (links in the titles):
Colors, lose themselves, in between the twisted pictures. Finger to finger, click to click, the upper and the lower of dying worlds, hoping to find someone who talks more clearly than the squares. The upper world is filled with headache. The lower world is filled with pain. Sometimes, the body is mesmerized by the lights and voices of an ecstasy which is infected with suffering and pain. No weight and no heaviness. No color and no volume. Creeper, silent noise, when it rips the endurance, it will become a malignant neoplasm that bites slowly. When it reaches the end, nobody talks clear, while words are losing themselves, in between twisted, infected pictures.
Ali Momeni writes “Smoke and Hot Air animates my response to the relentless threats against Iran by a myriad of more fortunate countries in recent years. Sentences that include ‘attack Iran’ are collected from Google News and spoken using a text-to-speech synthesizer. The voice is then picked up by a microphone, analyzed, and translated into rhythmically corresponding smoke rings from a quartet of smoke ring makers.”
Amirali Mohebbinejad | The End of the World is Nigh! | 4’51” | 2012
Combining a dialogue from Naked directed by Mike Leigh, with images of some unknown shimmering creatures, I metaphorically tried to recreate a void, in which all the beings are as tiny as sparks. Their lives are shortened in a second and their existence is limited in the moment of the “now”. These floating sparks (or what I call living creatures) are repeatedly coming into being and passing away – as it is mentioned in the dialogue – with no past or future of importance to anyone.
Bein in Persian means “in between,” the idea for this piece was derived from a variety of Minoo Iranpoor’s own life experiences. Bein features a non-visual scene trying to become visible. Reaching for a space which tends not to be discovered, Iranpoor attempts to pass the in-between spaces such as sleeping and being awake, the past and the future and death and life by not mourning for something lost while not waiting for a miracle to come. Bein is itself a full representation of these spaces.
This video was shot a year after a major earthquake destructed the city of Bam, Iran, and Arg-e-Bam, the largest adobe building in the world.
Anahita Hekmat | Trace | 7’10” | 2003–2004
This video was shot in Shahda, a village near Yazd, Iran, which is one of the last places to resist the encounter between Islam and Zoroastrianism in Iran.
This film is a symbolic illustration of an illusory relationship between a prisoner in solitary confinement and an activist. The prisoner is imagining the activist writing to her out of vigilance and sympathy. Finally, the illusion turns out to belong more to the writer than the prisoner.
Aria Farajnezhad | All is Solid | 02’02” | 2017
All is Solid video performance is a dark metaphor, which ridicules itself too. The image of a man facing a pile of raw materials is not staged or lighted. The industrial shed remained intact. The only theatrical role is taken by the artist. The permanent shouting, which causes a dramatic atmosphere in the first part, seems poor and absurd when it is being performed in empty space. All is solid melts into air, even the monument of the artist’s heroic act.
It’s 5pm on an autumn afternoon day. Workers are destroying a building and the building breaks down in front of the setting sun. The day ends.
Saman Khosravi | The Destructed Ones | 05’00” | 2016–2017
The project idea came up when an old building in front of my work studio was being demolished I started shooting its gradual disappearance, but while I was recording the demolition, the construction workers and their miserable conditions caught my attention and instinctively I got my camera focused on them instead.
Bahram Beyzai | Killing Mad Dog | 135’ (9’ min. fragment) | 2001
A businessman in late-1980s Tehran, Nasser Moasser, discovers that his partner has been laundering money and flees the city with the police on his trail. One year later, his wife, Golrokh Kamali, returns from a long absence to find that her husband is gone and that she has been left to resolve his many debts. Eventually, she meets with her husband’s old partner, Javad Moghadam, and learns the truth about his disappearance.
“you are an idiot :) :) :)”, this viral soundscape is a video by Nazgol Emami. The data-mashup was done by Renate Boden and features “der Schrei” a music piece written/created by Sonae.
“you are an idiot...” refers to a PC Virus...
* Coverphoto: a still from the Moving Dust teaser