Titled Regarding the Pain of Others, Iranian artist Majid Biglari’s latest exhibition currently on view at Mohsen Gallery presents a site-specific installation featuring 60 burnt and damaged wooden boxes placed together in three columns. Water runs through them and spreads the scent of burnt wood across the gallery’s Pasio floor, creating a multisensory, immersive experience.
The exhibition surveys the age-old narratives of conflict, rupture and destruction that shape everyday life. It also takes a piercing look at how capitalism and the media shape perceptions of reality. Biglari explores these themes to unsettling effect, using materials such as Plexiglas, iron, glass, and water in addition to his usual use of wood, broadening the scale of his works and emphasising the inevitable process of erosion and destruction.
The artist’s use of Plexiglas is telling – he places a sheet between the installation and the viewers as a way of letting them reflect back to themselves and create their own meanings. Biglari’s exhibition takes a cue from American writer Susan Sontag’s book of the same name, which dwells on the idea that photography doesn’t do justice to the pain and suffering of those struck by war eventually desensitising us to their plight.
The work is imbued with empathy as each piece subscribes to Biglari’s views on the media’s ‘normalisation’ of wars, terror, death, catastrophes and natural disasters as well as the thin line between ‘reality’ and ‘truth’. He also reflects on the role of museums and their power to form authentic, unadulterated narratives.