Dariush Nehdaran’s Amphibology, a series of monochrome photographs, is currently on view at the Elga Wimmer Gallery, an exquisite look back at the Iranian artist’s journey through the past 14 years. Curated by New York-based cultural producer Roya Khadjavi, the photographs are divided into seven series titled The Stopper, Unconscious, The Life of Rope, The Life of Shadows, The Woman, Urban Rivers, and Self-Portrait.
The Bridge, Life of Shadows series, Digital Photography/Gelatin Silver Print, 16x24 inch, Edition 2/5 + 2AP, 2011
Step into Nehdaran’s world that is awash in themed and self-portrait photographs in addition to an immersive video installation in The Life of Shadows series. Think about walking through the gallery and seeing your shadow projected onto the door as you enter a room dressed in white and grey walls and lit with video projectors. It is here that the artist gives life to the visitors’ shadows, achieving this effect with the use of a camera featuring a wide-angle lens that he mounts on top of the ceiling. “To accentuate and give life to the shadows, I have rotated the images by 180 degrees to be able to present the casted shadows as the main subject to the viewers. This created eﬀect is what I call the life of the viewer’s shadow,” Nehdaran said in a statement.
From his early experimental works with his grandfather’s camera, such as the series mentioned above, to his current large-scale video installations that leave viewers in awe, the exhibition is a testament to Nehdaran’s will to turn his childhood struggles into his greatest strength. In an interview with Maryam Ekhtiar, Associate Curator of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he stated, “I can honestly say that the blurred quality of my photographs represents my childhood days when I could not see things clearly.”
He went on to say, “When I look back, I see contrasts between my childhood and adult life… I, therefore, consider ‘sharpness’ and ‘blurriness’ to be the two opposite poles that define my life and photographs. I believe that juxtaposing the two in one image can make a strong statement and tell a compelling story.”
Untitled, The Woman series, Digital Photography/Gelatin Silver Print, 12x18 inch, Edition 1/5 + 2AP, 2010
Nehdaran’s photographs are a result of countless hours of waiting to capture the “right moment.” Marked by spontaneity and painterly finesse, the exhibition reveals his ability to manoeuver the lens of his camera like the strokes of a paintbrush, unsurprising as his family has been closely associated with painting over the years. The close attention-to-detail evident in his works, along with his manipulation of focus and orientation, brings mundane objects, scenes and shadows to life in a riveting manner.
Held in collaboration with Roya Khadjavi Projects, the exhibition is an intimate and profound exploration of the self and is, in many ways, unique in its approach towards photography.
Dariush Nehdaran’s ‘Amphibology’ runs at the Elga Wimmer Gallery until 23 May. Elgawimmer.com