Nazgol Ansarinia presents the exhibition Fragments, Particles and the Mechanisms of Growth at KIOSK. Through drawings, collages, sculptures, murals and works in textile, Iranian artist Nazgol Ansarinia draws a portrait of everyday life in her native city of Tehran, and of her own position within that context. She grows along with a city that now counts almost 14 million residents and whose face is rapidly changing. As capitalism’s sway over contemporary Iranian society grows ever more pervasive, there is housing shortage, the real estate market booms, houses make way for towering new apartment buildings and shopping malls, which results in a vicious paradoxical cycle of construction and deconstruction.
Each individual is a link in this process of ‘growth’ and is, like the city itself, subject to certain underlying codes and dynamics. It is the tension between her personal experience and public, regulated life in Tehran that always surfaces in Ansarinia’s work: “I have so many layers of memory from each corner of this city. Every part of this city is associated with memories from different stages in my life. I think that’s what makes this fast speed of construction so destructive in a way. It’s taking away our collective memory and individual memory with it. Neighbourhoods are changing so fast that they are unrecognizable. You feel lost when you can’t relate to a space.” (from “The Artist and their City”, The Guardian / Tate, 2016).
The artist turns a social system, an urban development or set of rules inside-out, dissects and interrogates them in order to reveal a collective consciousness or feeling in their reconstruction. In her exhibition at KIOSK, for instance, she films and analyses the demolition of a building in Tehran and incorporates the ‘traces’ of the process as video and sculpture. The video work Fragment 1, Demolishing buildings, buying waste registers how the building was torn down with shovel and pickaxe in 16 days. It is an attempt to capture the moment in between demolition and creation, and it illustrates the notion that for each new building there is an equal amount of material that is being shoved aside.
The rubble that is carried away in the video is symbolically reinstated as a new building brick at KIOSK. The rubble is laid open, sorted and reconstructed into new plaster and ceramic sculptures. Alongside these, the artist also presents a series of collages in which she weaves together articles on politics or economics from different Iranian newspapers into mosaics. The connecting thread that runs through all works in the show can be summed up with Ansarinia’s underlying thought that “I’m a deconstructionist who reconstructs the torn apart elements that show something new about something so banal that has gone unnoticed, so repetitive that it became part of routine life.” This is her way to get a handle on the innumerable mechanisms of growth that currently define this city, and to give them form.