Images from Iran filled with mystery, drama


Gohar Dashti,  Stateless , 2015

Gohar Dashti:  Stateless , photographs on view at Robert Klein Gallery @ Ars Libri, is a timely exhibition, given the Syrian refugee crisis. It's also achingly timeless.

DASHTI, an Iranian artist, stages scenes that blend humble detail with mythic implication. She grew up during the Iran-Iraq War; it prompted her family to move from southern Iran to the far north. Displacement was rampant. Her photos depict enigmatic tales rooted in her own experience.

She shot these photos on Qeshm, an Iranian island in the Persian Gulf with a dramatic, rocky landscape. Bone-dry straits and jutting mesas function as more than mere backdrops. These massive landforms witness the comings and goings of people as we might gaze upon the activities in an ant colony. Dashti makes large prints; the rocks so often dwarf the figures, we need all that real estate to see the story.

In one image (the works from the Stateless series are all untitled), a woman and a girl carry suitcases up a path into a cluster of pale, jagged rock formations. They have stopped to look back, but the woman covers the girl's eyes with her hand. We see a mother who doesn't want her daughter to suffer over what's left behind, yet who cannot herself bear to leave without a parting glance.

Another photo echoes Michelangelo's The Pietà. A woman clad in black cradles the body of a man across her lap. She sits at the bottom of a canyon, engulfed by its walls; we cannot see the sky. The canyon's dark caves resemble a skull's eye sockets. The landscape seems a metaphor for the woman's grief, a parched hell from which she cannot escape.

Everything in these images looks parched. In one, many people stand in the distance at the foot of a pair of mesas, bearing buckets. In the foreground, a blanket covers some spent beast. Iran has been in a water crisis for several years, a situation that threatens to provoke more upheaval. Dashti's photos ground in a love of place, and they mourn losses that seem to never end.

Gohar Dashti,  Stateless , 2015

Gohar Dashti,  Stateless , 2015

upcoming art fairs...

Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY
April 14 - 17, 2016

Somerset House, London, UK
May 19 - 22, 2016

Robert Klein Gallery // 38 Newbury St Boston MA 02116
Tuesday - Friday, 10 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday, 11 AM - 5 PM

Robert Klein Gallery @ Ars Libri // 500 Harrison Ave Boston MA 02118
Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 6 PM
Saturday, 11 AM - 5 PM