The Three Graces
In this series I exam the manipulation of the feminine body through the nude artworks from the art history. Nudity and censorship are the focal point of my research. I transform the bodies from the real presentation to the abstract forms. This transformation starts from the projection of reality to representation of fantasy. In other words, this is a journey from the figuration to abstraction. With the aim to redefine volumes to create new juxtaposed forms, I will be exploring how this impacts the representation of gendered form and space.
In January 2016, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, visited Italy and signed a seventeen-billion-euro business contract with Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi. The official meeting was held in Rome’s Capitoline Museum, with the museum’s nude statues covered up as a sign of respect for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The covered statues made this otherwise relatively ordinary news item controversial, especially in Italy and Iran: in Italy the act of covering the statues had plenty of opponents, while Iran’s government seemed well pleased.
Soon after Rouhani and Pope Francis met at the Vatican, a spoof photo appeared on social media depicting the two of them in front of a nude painting: The Three Graces, by Peter Paul Rubens. Through this Photoshopped spoof image, the official meeting became more controversial than the subject it was convened to discuss.
I have chosen the story of this image as my focus for the first part of this project. Using Rubens’s painting and the Facebook spoof, I will explore several phenomena, including Muslim belief and the banning of nudity, the Italian authorities’ decision to cover the nude statues, and the seventeen-billion-euro deal between Iran and Italy.
Bahar Taheri 2016
Quotations appear to visualize and describe events that have happened in the past. However, they are not capable of explaining what has passed around that space, time, and place. If quotations are honest, they deliver the real incompletely, if not they mix with imagination. When quotations appear in the vast social-historical scale, they convert an important part of the history to the collective memory.
Historical images seem to be the visual appearance of historical events. They are common images of what has been recorded of those specific events in the public mind. Pictures are collective memories. However, they narrate particular moments despite what has happened before and after. Pictures are determined simulations of facts and cannot recall what has happened in reality completely and perfectly. This disability provides narrators the chance to distort and even change reality.
Pictures can mix with imagination, sentiments and individual beliefs, and so they can separate from their context and transform into brand new stories. The collective memory is interrupted. We look for unreachable truth in pictures and memories. The collective memory is built on unreliable images and incomplete quotes.
Bahar Taheri, July 2014.
Marz-e Por Gohar (The Land Full of Treasures)
I intend to demonstrate the historical, political and social events in my homeland using the symbolic object of the crown to represent the potions of power in relation to what has been going on behind the scenes, either in favour of or against, the established source of authority in the form of monarchies and royal dynasties.
I have used the flag as an object representing national identity that conveys the historical background of a nation. The flag, through which I intend to show several over-lapped layers of social events and evolutions in the history of my country, is tattered, in pieces of fabric, or is used in a way which it is not visible completely. The audience, who may not have a certain or a clear idea about the flag they are facing, will act as the dominant outsiders, who have been always influential in the shifting situation of my country. They may see the flag, or juxtapose sheets of fabric in a way they imagine or prefer it to be.
Bahar Taheri, 2013 (statement in advance of exhibition).
There is no way to communicate
We wear sunglasses, hats, masks, … to keep safe from people’s eyes and their judgments.
We have worn out these covers; so they don’t protect us any more, since these masks they have become symbols. Brands are only to place emphasis on our hiding masks. So that we would be able to conceal our real selves with glory, rapture and ease, and show off fake faces.
We are looking for more personal space and privacy in public life, while we share our personal details on the social networks. living in the virtual world somehow disconnect us from the real world.
Crowns represent authority and power through their charming visual forms. Crowns act as elements that have been used for their symbolic force by the very few elite in any given society, such as figureheads and monarchs.
I intend to demonstrate the historical, political and social events of my homeland using the symbolic object of the crown to represent the power in relation to what has been going on behind the scenes, either in favour of, or against, the established source of authority in the form of monarchies and royal dynasties.
Bahar Taheri, 2013.
A narration on the women of my homeland
The emphasis on women’s clothing and its patterns illustrates feminine identities in modern Iranian society. The absence of head and feet is expressive of a continuing perception of the female gender as a second, inferior sex. As a result, any effort to illustrate female identity individually cannot rely on looking directly at her facial expressions and is only possible indirectly, by studying a figure’s gestures.
The presence of traditional Iranian tiles on clothing demonstrates the inescapable provenance of a modern woman’s cultural background as she prepares to move forward.
The pregnant woman illustrates a stage of female life in which the body itself becomes an obvious expression of her identity.