Medieval Geometry: Artful Attacks
Artful Attacks, 2021
Solo Exhibition, Mercury 20 Gallery, Oakland, CA
Iran, a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is the most peacetime sanctioned and politically subjugated country in the world. UNSC nuclear-armed states have collectively pressured Iran to abandon many of its NPT rights. The Trump administration declared that suffocating Iran’s economy was an American strategy aimed at triggering mass uprising. People of Iran, including my family, have been under tremendous pressure because of the sanctions. In the past few months, while working on my new series, Artful Attacks, I have been preoccupied with thoughts of political pressure and sanctions.
The title, Artful Attacks, refers to the mysterious attacks that have targeted Iran’s nuclear plants in the historic city of Natanz. This new body of work was shaped organically as a reaction to the coverage of such incidents in the media. As a result, my 42 ft long scroll drawings visualize deconstructed, interrupted, and ambiguously arranged geometric patterns as a metaphor for political pressure and tension.
In my pieces, I have appropriated patterns from a 97-foot late medieval Iranian document called Topkapi scroll housed at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. Pasted at one end to a wooden rod, this paper scroll compiles a collection of 114 rectangle and square geometric architectural drawings and tiling patterns with Kufic script, in black and red inks. The Topkapi scroll is a significant example of the interconnectivity of science and art.
In a group of ceramic tiles, I use words that surface both the Iranian press and the mainstream Western media, such as cyberattack, sanctions, nuclear power, covert war, mysterious explosion, and political tension. Like Kufic geometric ceramic tiles found in both Topkapi scroll and Natanz historic shrines and mosques, my Kufic arrangements are composed in a somewhat undecipherable manner. The choice for the pairing of black and yellow comes from the standard nuclear power logo.
Through erasing, blurring, re-drawing, de-coloring, and re-coloring the same patterns, I create new patterns and disturbed surfaces. My large scroll drawings, ceramic Kufic tiles, and performative videos collectively represent both my emotional unease and the constant threats to the historical city of Natanz and its medieval architecture-as an exemplar of the whole Iranian culture and nation.
Exhibition view, Mercury 20 Gallery, Oakland, CA, 2021
Political Kufic ceramic tiles, Augmented Scroll, and performative video
Political Kufic ceramic tiles, exhibition view, Mercury 20 Gallery, 2021
Augmented Scroll, 2021, charcoal and chalk pastel on paper and wooden rod, 42 feet x 42 inches
Augmented Scroll, the process of making the scroll in my studio, Palo Alto, CA
3 drawings from Augmented Scroll
Cyber Attack, 2021, digital illustration and print on ceramic tile, 12×12 inches
The word reads Hamleh Cyberee in Persian (Cyber Attack) using Kufic script.
Political Tension, 2021, digital illustration and print on ceramic tile, 12×12 inches
The word reads Tanesh Siyaasee in Persian (Political Tension) using Kufic script.
Covert War, 2021, digital illustration and print on ceramic tile, 12×12 inches
The word reads Jang-eh Penhaan in Persian (Covert War) using Kufic script.
Suspicious Explosion, 2021, digital illustration and print on ceramic tile, 12×12 inches
The word reads Enfejaar Mashkook in Persian (Suspicious Explosion) using Kufic script.
Sanctions, 2021, digital illustration and print on ceramic tile, 12×12 inches
The word reads Tah-reem & Godrat in Persian (Sanctions & Power) using Kufic script.
Nuclear Power, 2021, digital illustration and print on ceramic tile, 12×12 inches
The word reads Godrat Hasteh-ee in Persian (Nuclear Power) using Kufic script.
Topkapi Scroll, 97 ft x 13 inches, late medieval Iran, housed at the Topkapi Library, Istanbul, Turkey
The document includes 114 architectural drawings, vaults, and tiling patterns.
Left: my drawing, and tile designs, 2021
Right: patterns that I used as the source of inspiration from the Topkapi scroll for my works
The nuclear site, Natanz, Iran
The tomb of Abdossamad at the Jameh Mosque of Natanz was built in 1304 shows the Kufic script and tiles using the Persian blue. Abd-ul-Samad was an Ilkhanid era Sufi of the 13th century.