A Note on “Asymmetrical Authority”*
I. Using history as a force in art is to coordinate, reconcile, and combine two far away realms, as one is rooted in knowledge and the other strives for truth. History is the realization of humans’ insatiable desire for learning, and then writing and waiting for the repetition of this wisdom to certify the power of humans’ self-sufficient intellect. Art, however, comes after philosophy to curb and end this burning desire. With the aim of knowing the world, wisdom completely depletes life of its fervor, converting it into a predictable, cold, and lifeless entity. Philosophy and art come to the stage with a similar claim, but look for truth and, in so doing, infuse the Earth and life with love and desire. They are, in this sense, prioritized over the obsessive desire to know, gain knowledge, and achieve wisdom. History, philosophy, and art are all realized with the aid of images; they are all the consequence of the reflection of the image of life in humans’ mind. These figures and images of the world pass through humans’ eyes so that they can imagine a repeated image of what they believe they see, thus making knowledge and perception possible. This process seems like deception. Science, the result of an endless desire for knowing the world, denies this delusion and does not tolerate the acceptance of such deception; this belief destroys its foundation entirely. On the contrary, art knows at the outset, and does not hide, that it is the result of delusion and deception, a mere reflection. In confessing to its dependence on images and the recreation of sensory creations, art is more honest that cognition-based knowledge. The confession to being a lie makes art truer than science. Art is rooted in a truth which is courageously fed with the confession to the aesthetic delusion of others.
It seems that these works aimed to re-estimate the aforementioned difficulty of combining history and art as a force for creating works of art. Therefore, the artist has formerly and repeatedly tested this theme. Previously, he has demonstrated in another collection that he is aware of history and its conceptual or visual manifestations. To me, this fondness of history is the result of his concern for the reiteration of truth. This reiteration takes place on two sides and two fronts: once for the self, as an internal dialog with the self, and once for a person other than the artist himself. He astutely employs the abyss resulting from the chasm in and conflict between truth and knowledge, art and history, in order to echo in this vacuity a more genuine and long-lasting element of this dichotomy, that is, the truth, over the dialog it has begun. In these works, his voice is in fact a voice resulting from the combination of dispersed echoes singing l’air du temps. Thus, as unique subjects, he considers it necessary to continuously recount for himself and the person out there what he knows and finds of truth in the essence of historical events and, in so doing, relies on feelings and intuition. Here, truth, in its most genuine form, that is, the aesthetic form, creates a long-lasting image of a material situation over the course of history in the collective memory of people. As a result, this continuous reiteration of truth to the self and the other reflects the genuine truth of human nature because it is realized in the form of a work of art.
III. In his most recent collection, Parham Taghioff follows his previous concerns. He finds images from the media; provides a new reading of old narrations in a different context; and then, converts the outcome of this new reading into an effective form of art with the help of searching and experimenting with new media. In this way, his works remain image/picture-based. Now, he has turned to pictures of important events in contemporary Iranian history. It is always expected of pictures of this kind to present explicit and undeniable information in the form of objective documents of a historical reality in the near or far away past. However, he intentionally depletes determining part(s) of these pictures of this information. The result is shocking. Due to the absence or lack of an important part of a whole, a picture which must have transferred information so as to allow others to provide a value judgment has become a bothersome factor for surprise, confusion, exasperation, and thinking. Faces, situations, locations, and times, although looking familiar, cannot be recognized. By modifying the codes of passing to the world behind the images, the artist disrupts the mechanism of precise understanding and recognition (remembering), so that it would be possible to revive and create a new concept in an altered context of re-examining the history out of the pain and confusion resulting from teasing the memory. In so doing, he provides a fully conceptualizing approach to photography, but even then, he does not let go of his aesthetic concerns. What he has provided in this collection still reflects his devotion to and his constant love for the language of photos and images; symbolism, and coding and decoding it; and awareness and fondness of the discovery, expression, and recreation of truth in a context called history.
(This review was written by Hamidreza Karami for publishing in the catalog of Parham Taghioff’s solo exhibition “Asymmetrical Authority” from November 30 to December 14, 2018 in Aban Gallery, Shiraz, Iran.)