As a precursor to our Six Pillars exhibition at Hundred Years Gallery next week New Players, New Roles – British-Iranian art, we’re reposting artist Nooshin Farhid’s interview on Resonance104.4FM from in 2008.
Farhid’s videos employ varied subjects and scenarios that are threaded together by a connecting sense of agitation and tension.
In this interview we tentatively discuss the processes around how Farhid’s ideas form, which perhaps not surprisingly, hark back to her own experiences as an immigrant settling in the UK. The unwillingness to settle for what is on offer, something that is evident in all her work, reflects Farhid’s views on the current state of society, politics and ideology. Though not overtly political, (for ‘this inevitably enables privileged authority to manipulate the artist into the cul de sac of irrelevance’), her work picks away at those daily familiar stabilising forces within the space of the everyday, while also attacking the same rigid forces in contemporary art itself. Being an MA tutor at Central St Martin’s, and showing so widely and internationally as she does, Farhid is embedded deeply in the art world at a place that allows her multiple-viewpoints from whence she can reflect in her work.
Farhid’s eclectic and conceptually nomadic practise uses the camera as a notebook to collect fragments of random events and chance meetings that collectively question the comfort of normality and conformity. Farhid appropriates other ‘lower’ forms of popular media: soaps, reality TV, Bollywood, MTV… all raw material welded together in fragments, each one ‘activating and qualifying its predecessor’. This process produces a contemporary surreal space that re-presents the familiar in that which can appear astonishing, perplexing and that invites the viewer to reconsider norms, cause and effect and raw truth. In her most recent work Shallow Water, Deep Skin, featuring political activist and entomologist Shahin Nawai, Farhid reaches a peak in her observations of the human disconnect by melding together the swarming world of nature with human kind’s own busy, teeming concerns.
Most of all, Farhid herself turns out to be steely yet humorous, and working on a territorial plane of her own making. In New Players, New Roles Farhid shows three stills from a film of a mourning of Muharram procession, in which men typically beat their chests and lament in chorus. The still reveal a third entity in the scene, one the protagonist and the viewer might both perceive, or not.