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SubRosa: The Language of Resistance

SubRosa: The Language of Resistance runs until December 7, 2013  at the USF Contemporary Art Museum.

Artists include Ai Weiwei (China), Ramón Esono Ebalé (Equatorial Guinea), Barbad Golshiri (Iran), Khaled Jarrar (Palestine), Zanele Muholi (South Africa), and José Toirac and Meira Marrero (Cuba). Curated by Noel Smith; Organized by USFCAM; Made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and supported by the USF Institute on Black Life and EG Justice.

The exhibition, curated by Noel Smith, examines the art and language of artists in response to social, political, and environmental repression. Although the political agency of art is regularly debated, there is a growing group of artists today who make work with political agency and relevancy in mind. Covering continents and cultures, these artists share a desire to question dominant political systems and the prevalent status quo, sometimes covertly and dangerously. More broadly, SubRosa, titled for the Latin phrase meaning secrecy, poses several questions about the role of art in political life.

You’re probably familiar with at least one of the artists who have work in the exhibition. But we wanted to share a bit about an artist you may not be immediately familiar with, Iranian artist Barbad Golshiri. Golshiri will soon have a solo exhibition entitled Curriculum Mortis at Thomas Erben Gallery in New York.

As Dad as Possible, as Dad as Beckett, Barbad Golshiri, 2000 – 2013, Iron, ashes, 200.3 x 100.2 x 28.3 cm. Courtesy USF CAM. 

Barbad Golshiri

Barbad Golshiri is a contemporary artist who was born in 1982 in Tehran, Iran. He continues to work and live in Tehran, even as his work is considered controversial in the place he calls home.

“Tombstone for Borges’ Assassinated Translator” (Ahmad Mir-Alaei), Barbad Golshiri, 2012, Engraving on stone, ~ 60 x ~ 81 x ~ 10 cm. Courtesy AAran Art Gallery and USF CAM. 

Thomas Erben in collaboration with Aaran Gallery, is excited to present Curriculum Mortis, a sculptural installation of a cemetery, by Iranian multimedia artist Barbad Golshiri, his second solo exhibition with the gallery after Nothing Is Left to Tell in 2010. As one of the most prominent figures on the Iranian contemporary scene, over the past ten years Golshiri has produced esthetically and conceptually provocative art, in an impressive balancing act between political urgency and repressive conditions.

Considering the urgent presence of the body, with all its most primal and visceral functions, death has played an important if understated part throughout Golshiri’s art. In Curriculum Mortis, it becomes the main theme through which all other aspects are filtered, as physical bodies are replaced with tombstones, turning the gallery into a graveyard. How do we deal with the loss of those close to us, when they are killed under unclear circumstances, in a society where no authority can be trusted? Golshiri approaches each death individually, creating grave markers so closely attuned as to become physical manifestations of the people they commemorate. Tombstone for Borges’ Assassinated Translator, for example, incorporates engravings referring to the stories translated by Ahmad Mir-Alaei, a well-known translator who disappeared and was later found dead, allegedly from cardiac arrest. By creating these tombstones, Golshiri gives voice to those whose words have forcibly been taken from us, and gives them a renewed physical presence in the world, refusing to forget.

Perpetual Is He, Barbad Golshiri, 2012, Engraving on cow skull, iron, industrial wax .36 x 23 x 18 cm. Courtesy AAran Art Gallery.

Not all graves commemorate victims of oppression; as is true for Golshiri’s production as a whole, this series of tombs reverberate with subtext, and the artist’s own personal history is as deeply entwined in the work as the histories of the dead. There is the grave of Samuel Beckett, whom Golshiri has translated into Persian; a stone with the epitaph “[There is] no God”; a Tombstone of Jan van Eyck; and finally Golshiri’s own tombstone. Walking through this makeshift graveyard, we are moving through a mindscape of the artist; each grave presents a portal into worlds beyond the present one, where transformation is possible and all can – finally – be different.

Barbad Golshiri’s solo exhibition in New York Curriculum MortisThomas Erben Gallery in collaboration with Aaran Gallery runs September 7 – October 26, 2013.

 You can see work from Barbad Golrishi at the USF Contemporary Art Museum right now!

The Distribution of the Sacred System, Barbad Golshiri, 2010, Installation and aktion, Silk screen print on canvas, 180 x 69 cm, unlimited editions, Iron pulley: ∅ 150 cm, length: approx. 240 cm. Courtesy AAran Art Gallery and USF CAM. 
Installation overview at Contemporary Art Museum USF. Courtesy AAran Art Gallery and USF CAM. 

Via USF Contemporary Art Museum and Aaran Gallery
Thanks for reading SubRosa: The Language of Resistance

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