PUBLIC AND PERSONAL HISTORY

PUBLIC AND PERSONAL HISTORY

F AMILY ALBUM SERIES

FAMILY ALBUM SERIES

RETRACING MEMORIES: PERSONAL AND PUBLIC HISTORY IN CONTEMPORARY IRAN

This is a personal project which traverses my memories of growing up in post revolutionary Tehran. I respond to my past and how it informs my present through this body of paintings. My visual research draws on many sources including photographs, the media, histories and memories. Through this visual exploration I explore my feelings of dislocation and create a new narrative for myself, to excavate and illuminate facets of my identity.

Jean Baudrillard (1994) describes today’s world as a ‘hyperreal’ space, a space where simulation or representation of our ‘reality’ is based on ‘models’ that do not have any ‘origin’. He describes ‘hyperreal’ space as a place in which ‘simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal’ (Baudrillard, 1994: 1). According to Baudrillard there is no such a thing as ‘real’ in our everyday life and our description of ‘reality’ is based on another ‘copy’, ‘reproduction’ or ‘representation’ of what came before. It is in this context, the context of the impossibility of ever being able to know the truth, that I place various stories next to each other in my paintings.

On the one hand are my fictive and fragmented collective memories; on the other hand is the public history. Borrowing from Baudrillard’s idea of ‘Simulation’, the process of narrating my personal and public histories in paint does not resemble authorized histories but rather parallels their contradictions. In this sense I do not try to find the ‘truth’ but question the contradictory experience of describing history as ‘truth’. It is in the process of painting that I am witness to the act of simulation, which is reliant on unreliable histories. Correspondingly, only the process can be deemed reliable, as even my final paintings are themselves another reproduction dependent upon my own interpretation. It is in this sense that I invite the viewer to start a conversation with my paintings.

Artworks in this section were produced as part of the requirements for a postgraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town.