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A Review of "Tattered Masterpieces" by Negar Farajiani 

Author : Mehrdad Mirzaie

Reading Time : 5 Minutes

Original text in Farsi by Mehrdad Mirzaie

Translated to English by Omid Armat

In order to create her artworks, Negar Farajiani has used various mediums and materials during different periods of her career path. In her exhibition titled "Tattered Masterpieces" at Inja Gallery, she invites the viewers to visit this piecemeal presentation of materials. This show is made by the juxtaposition of four series including photographs, and pieces of fabric. 

The significance of the artist's works is recognized in the production process. Objects that she eventually put on display for the viewers act as reports or documentation about her thoughts and the process she went through in order to visualize her concern. She said about the exhibition:  "The works you see within this small space, are different pieces of result I acquired from the search that I have carried out over many years besides my other projects."  She has tried to appropriate some of the pieces by manipulating them in a methodical way. One of the series displayed here consists of pieces of fabric on which she has printed miniature painting images in a way that can hardly be recognized. As she has explained, in other cases, after finding and printing an image, she started to rip the fabric until the final artwork is formed along the fabric's tears. 

Installation view of "Tattered Masterpieces" at Inja Gallery 

At the beginning of an article titled "The Melancholy Angel", Giorgio Agamben explains the function of quotations by referring to a quote from Walter Benjamin, German intellectual: "The particular power of quotations arises, according to Benjamin, not from their ability to transmit that past and allow the reader to relive it but, on the contrary, from their capacity to make a clean sweep, to expel from the context, to destroy". Benjamin also said that the past can be seized and fixed only in the form of an image which has been detached from its context; just like a thunderbolt in the sky.  

Negar Farajiani | Untitled | 2020 | 48×68 cm 

Farajiani's fabrics are found and created pieces derived from history; from a culture and a geographic area in which fabrics had crucial importance since the ancient times. She says: "Fabric is the only material which cannot be repaired. It decays and disintegrates into powder!". Negar Farajiani is fully aware of the material's nature and the delicate qualities it provides to engage with this subject. The hanging fabrics or, in her own words, found pieces and their images are obviously related to the other series in the show that are formed in the political-historical context of this geographic area.  

Farajiani tries to represent historical images that have emerged in a different form in the architecture of this region. She has created a metaphoric comparison by juxtaposing these series. This may be what Benjamin talked about: seizing the past in a transient moment.  

In another series which is made up of small photo frames, visual documents of images painted on walls or other parts of historical buildings are presented. The images are severely damaged. Looking closer, one can perceive the effects of erosion, the passing of time, damages caused by humans, or any other form of deliberate destruction because of censorship. It is important to note that here, too, Farajiani has collected the pieces. She has not taken these photographs herself; rather, these are documents which she detached from their original context and placed in this series. A repeating line is visible throughout the show. Like an archeologist, Farajiani is looking to extract historical-political images from the deepest parts of the culture and nature of this specific region; for the viewer, these images may not mean anything at first sight, but the relations will become clear once they visit the third series.  

In the third series, Farajiani has depicted her idea about Persian gardens in the form of staged photographs; plants that have been deformed due to unsuitable conditions or blight. She has created an image which is unfamiliar for the viewer; this is one of several cases of defamiliarization in the "Tattered Masterpieces" show. What appears interesting here, is the connection between Persian garden and the damaged paintings of mansions. These paintings now can be redefined in relation to the concept of Persian garden.  And finally, miniature images that are rendered on fabrics and then deliberately damaged by tearing.

In this series, Farajiani has represented a close relation between culture, nature, and humans by dispersed collaging, or quotes. These images are heavily political; the politics which, through history and time, has grown roots in this region and has passed from one period to another. The image represented by Farjiani may be regarded as a contemporary one: fragile, decayed, and spoiled!