AB GALLERY LUCERNE
Phone: +41 41 982 08 80
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Tuesday to Friday: 2 - 6 pm
Saturday: 11 am - 4 pm and by arrangement
AB GALLERY ZURICH + AB PROJECTS
Phone: +41 41 982 08 80
Mobil: +41 79 69 805 69
Wednesday to Friday: 12 am - 6 pm
and by arrangement
Surprings reactions by the audience of the performance art "No Exit Lucerne" by Iranian artist Shahram Entekhabi on the Rahaussteg Lucerne. With caution tape the crossing between the theatre of Lucerne and the townhall was blocked for the pedestrians - and rarely anybody got upset about it. Except the authorities - they have filed charges.
AB GALLERY Lucerne 2011 -The solo exhibition "Rhizome" by Iranian artist Shahram Entekhabi (* 1963 in Borujerd/Tehran, lives and works in Berlin) takes its starting point from his involvement with the system of rules in the urban space and the complex of perception and self-perception from a migratory perspective that he deals with for more than ten years.
Beyond that, the show focuses on Entekhabi´s ironisation of the cultural practise of veiling in Iran and his "overpaintings" that he applies on fashion magazines, posters, advertisements, and postcards since 2001 in order to veil all female figures reproduced in those printed matters.
For the first time, the Entekhabi also presents a brand new body of work of drawings on paper, which transfers Entekhabi´s ever virulent reflection of socio-political matters into an associative and symbolical space.
Information on the exhibition...
AB GALLERY Zurich 2011 - The solo exhibition "White lies and some promises" by Iranian artist Shahram Entekhabi (*1963 in Borujerd/Iran, lives and works in Berlin & Tehran) showcases several critical works by the artist
"Some decade ago I started to cover the bodies and faces of females in fashion magazines, erotic posters, or ads with some black paint. I "dressed" them in a tchador, so to say. This was an ironic gesture in two directions: on the one hand towards a particular censorship practice inside Iran after the revolution that included the covering of female bodies and faces in the books and magazines of public libraries. One the other hand it repeated the fear of the West to be "islamisized" and its conscious or subconscious practice to marginalize Muslim women in tchador or headshawl by seeing them as victims of their circumstances.
For the past years, the tchador as well as the burka or the head shawl as such became the symbol of an ongoing public dispute between the defenders and offenders of this particular "dress code" within the European societies, as well as within the societies of the Middle East that sometimes regard it as a possibility to express aspects of an Anti Western identity based on some blown up words from the Qur'an.
The piece of fabric was over and over filled with meanings and opinions that in my perception as a result, its meaning as such moved towards zero. This is the reason for my Golden edition. Its gold does not refer to the precious metal but to the glitter of total emptiness, to the pure surface.
It is a common tradition in Russia and Asia for the bride and groom to take wedding photographs in scenic places. In Kaliningrad wedding parties usually come to Kant’s tomb to lay flowers and drink champagne. The performance of Shahram Entekhabi focuses on this phenomenon. Assuming the role of a martyr, the artist visits Kant’s tomb with 72 virgins, who he will select with his "parents", to accompany him in paradise as was promised to martyrs in some interpretations of Islamic teachings. The women, of all shapes and sizes, are dressed in black dresses, each with a white flower in hand. Besides evoking the idea of the black widow as the fanatical Muslim female martyr, the black dress refers to the colour of grief, common in European cultures. It also hints at the fact that the marriage in paradise is only possible after the death of the martyr as well as the death of the virgins.
Similar to Shahram Entekhabi’s previous projects, the ‘72 Virgins’ photograph and performance-video project features the artist Shahram Entekhabi deconstructing the stereotype of ‘The Other’, migrant foreigners and those on the periphery of society. In doing so, ‘72 Virgins’ highlights the clichés about Muslims by casting a critical view to notions of masculinity. It also questions the ideals and realities of roles and promises as (mis)interpreted and instrumentalized by ideology, religious discourse and society to rally and recruit people for political gain. Indeed, circles within contemporary Islamic debate claim that this practice has no authenticity and is constantly contended. The project also engages in a critical, albeit humorous, view of rites of passage like marriage which usually takes place between birth and death. However for martyrs, their marriage (to 72 virgins) takes place after death.
Recalling Kant’s Categorial Imperative which holds that an act can be moral if universally accepted by all, 72 Virgins offers a tongue-in-cheek view of the establishment of knowledge. Here, it might be possible for the Jewish/Christian Western male to consider reaching 72 virgins in paradise as a form of religious sacrifice and honour, due to one’s innate sexual desires and wishes as well as the rich sexual imagery rooted in Judeo-Christian traditions.
Everlast, Lupe Fiasco, Vinnie Paz, Busta Rhymes and Ice Cube all converted to Islam. Shahram Entekhabi calls them his ‘superheroes.’
The men’s posture is reminiscent of how rappers usually pose in public. Each of them is occupying their own separate ‘stage’ (i.e. canvas), yet all five are linked to each other by means of a broad yellow streak on which one finds the inscription “CONVERTS.” The figures are pieced together by different-sized refined ink drawings of objects (pistol, cowboy boot) and persons (religious figures, naked women).
In Entekhabi’s work American Hip Hop artists are heroes and they are the ones representing Islam. This is provocative; Americans entertain a highly ambivalent foreign policy vis-à-vis the Islamic world and rap lyrics are notorious for their materialist, sexist, violent nature. What does this tell us about our common perception of Islam?
The concept of converting to another religion leads to the question of how free one is to choose his/her own religion. How is identity shaped around understandings of different religions? What do these individuals represent and to whom? Observed from afar they seem clearly defined and framed; looked upon in a more detailed manner they are complexly constructed ambivalent figures.
Sophia Ayda Schultz, 2010
School of Oriental and African Studies, London
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