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On Mohsen Shahmardi's Solo Show at Emkan Gallery

Author : Amir Esfandiari

Reading Time : 3 Minutes

Original text in Farsi by Amir Esfandiari

Translated to English by Omid Armat

"Sequel" is the name of the recent exhibition of photographs by Mohsen Shahmardi (b. 1979) held at Emkan Gallery from September 21 to October 15, 2021. Shahmardi's photographs have been displayed at many galleries and other art spaces in Iran and abroad.  

The "Sequel" series includes a variety of photographs. They are arranged as single photographs, installed in portrait and landscape orientation. Some have colors and others are black and white. A vast range of subjects are pictured in these photographs: from different spaces and landscapes, which had appeared in his previous photographs, to close, detailed shots of body, flowers, etc.; and yet this is not where this vast range ends. He does not search for a specific point to focus on. That is why in "Sequel" we can also see photos taken through a window (of a house or airplane), photos of animals, birds, and remote places. One part of this series includes photos in which the horizon is clearly visible, while in another part of it some close shots are presented. This creates some kind of paradox which is fully apparent from the beginning, along with another incompatibility caused by color and black and white photos sitting next to each other. This discord also extends through the combination of other elements.  


Mohsen Shahmardi | Installation view of "Sequel" at Emkan Gallery 


The aforementioned incompatibility is even visible within the photographs. Looking closer at the photos, we notice the separation between different elements. In most photographs, one element clearly appears as opposing other elements. For instance, in a photo of a horse tied to the rear side of a pickup truck, the opposing element is even more apparent. The horse and the truck are detached from their background and do not belong to it. The same situation is also seen in a photo of a transmission tower located in the middle of an area covered with a scattered texture of plants. Here, the tower is the separated opposing element. This [conceptual separation] appears repeatedly, but in various ways throughout the "Sequel". Separation or detachment of elements (mostly from their background) suggests a discord between them and the situation in which they exist. However, this incompatibility does not always appear in the same way. In other cases, elements are visually separated from their background; sometimes it is a specific car, and sometimes it is the color of a flower which distinguishes and presents it as the opposing element.  

Mohsen Shahmardi | Untitled | 2020 | digital print on matte epson paper | 24 × 36 cm

What has been said about the "Sequel" make us try to be incoherent. Incoherence is the specific characteristic of this series and it never turns into an evaluative property. Rather, it appears as an idea of terminating the pivotal importance of a single issue. Various subjects and locations are displayed in the "Sequel", but it is actually limited to specific matters, as any other series of photographs would be. However, in other aspects, this series tries to present itself as comprehensively including every possible matter. The idea of incoherence helps "Sequel" to suggest and include matters not actually presented in the series; matters that appear far or close, sometimes colored and sometimes black and white. These matters are also similar to the photos of this series; simple and pure and not trying to appear as hollow flashy things. They don't seek complexities and they are not arranged relatively in order to complete a puzzle.  


It is impossible to think about "Sequel" without taking its uncaptured photographs into consideration; that is the images which come to mind subsequent to the photographs of the series. There is no beginning and no end to the "Sequel" and it does not even look for them. It associates with a sense of being always in the middle, of moving and staying in the middle. It points to any direction without giving any thought to it and simply continues to extend.


Mohsen Shahmardi | Untitled | 2017 | digital print on matte epson paper | 24 × 31.5 cm