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A Review of Mehran Mohajer's Show

Author : Amir Esfandiari

Reading Time : 4 Minutes

Original text in Farsi by Amir Esfandiari

Translated to English by Soheila Habibi

Encountering Elusion


In June 2021 Mehran Mohajer's show entitled "Scaffolding"  was held at Plus 2 Gallery. Mohajer started photography in the 1980s and his works have been presented in many group and solo shows in Iran and abroad. "Scaffolding" includes his selected collections which had been published in a book with the same title by Nazar publication in 2020 and now is presented at Plus 2.

According to Mohajer, this collection includes photos taken recently. He states in the preface of the book: "These photos are not selected from the series, except  for one or two."  In other words, we face a collection of single photographs which have not been included in other series or collections of the artist since they have been captured. Not being included in any collection, is the main characteristic of the "Scaffolding" series. This issue is obvious in the audience's first encounter with the collection, including the title. The very basic definition of scaffolding is "being fastened together"  so it can signify and reveal the photos'  juxtaposition.

The interior space of the gallery is filled with enough light for showcasing the pictures. Photos are installed in single, double, and triple groups, placed next to each other or at relatively short distances. Even the installation doesn't change the elusive essence of the photos. Photographs are taken of isolated objects or objects placed side by side or on each other, such as bricks, tables, and wires, as well as their shadows, lights, and reflections. Photos are somehow accidental and passing. They're not fabricated; rather they are the photographer's superficial approach and the state of being a stroller encountering shadows, lines, and so on. Here, the photographer explores and reflects on the photographed moments and objects and perhaps it can be said that he is busy studying them. More than addressing the existence, this study is seeking the deconstruction of existence and even making it meaningless. 


Mehran Mohajer | Installation view of "Scaffolding" at Plus 2


Single photos have specific and clear titles; like Shield, Screen, Shadows, Stairs, and other likewise names. But they interfere with what they look like. They are not determined by namings, but rather they go beyond their specific framework; The nomination here goes against itself and questions this framework. The objects in the photographs (wire, table, lamp, etc.) do not attribute themselves to what they pretend to be. This brings the audience into a suspended situation in which the elusive nature of the collection will be introduced better by strolling. The result of this suspended situation is a kind of confusion. The photos have no answer to this confusion but seek questions in each and every moment. They are not after finding or introducing and showing a new appearance but they try to turn the static gaze of the audience into a dynamic one, and on the other hand, escape from what the image and language are trying to determine.

Mehran Mohajer | Scaffolding | 2013 | digital print on epson traditional photo-paper | 16 × 24 cm

Scaffolding is a suspended situation between this, that, and those as well. A situation that the artist is aware of and names it the  "indefinite freedom." Using his photographic and linguistic abilities, the artist does his best to avoid determination (both in naming the works and in the photographs in which words and letters are used). Photos here are trying to have no label, make or get no meaning, and sometimes look absurd and meaningless. This does not show them as aggressive and furious, but they take on a thoughtful face. They do not seek revolt; rather, as mentioned earlier, there are questioners who make the audience think. The process of meaning avoidance and making a suspended situation in artworks, sometimes occurs in seeing and photographing the reflection of light on a specific physical surface, sometimes by placing two or more objects together in a frame, sometimes by stacking objects and casting a shadow over an object, and sometimes by seeing different angles of one or more objects. This photographed visual content covers a wide range and does its best to show objects and places.

The "Scaffolding" wanders and breathes in such an atmosphere. It makes the audience think, explains its questions to them, and expects them to align with what the collection is ignoring.