natascha sadr haghighian
"Empire of the Senseless II"
Opening reception: Wednesday, June 29th (6-8pm)
June 29th - August 7th 2016
Kai Matsumiya presents Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s two-channel video projection, “Empire of the Senseless II" (2006) and a series of works on paper made from luminous paint with fingerprints. The title is a reference to Kathy Acker’s 1988 novel in which Algerian immigrants have taken over a Paris composed of stray animals, the dead, and mutants. Categories of identity are mutable and undetermined; in fact they are resisted with conscious discipline in the name of self-determination. In some instances women are referred to as “cunts”; in others as “prince”; or they are referred to with professional titles, differing categories of identities, fitting the immediate ever-changing contexts of the post-apocalyptic society. In this world, business can consist of the wealthy elite committing suicide and transferring wealth to the rest. Yet, within the chaos, there is a world without repression and inhibition—the result of enlightened transgression.
Sadr Haghighian’s exhibition actualizes these themes within the space at Kai Matsumiya. A series of nouns, such as “father/lovebird; slave/painter; racist/prisoner; victim/criminal” are projected onto the same space of wall by two discordant projectors. As a result, the words are scrambled and illegible, only becoming decipherable when someone steps in front of the picture eliminating one projection, but leaving the other. The individual then becomes part of the picture with one noun appearing within their shadow on the wall, and the other appearing on the individual’s body.
After lifting the curtain onto which the words are projected, visitors encounter the artist’s text-based paintings—a new body of work that expands upon the ideas presented in the projection, which was originally conceived in 2006. The same words that compose “Empire of the Senseless II” are painted with fingerprints in phosphorescent pigment on paper with fingerprints. The phosphorescence of the paint absorbs light and then reflects it outward in lower light conditions, creating a subtle sense of illumination that increases and decreases in relationship to the immediate context and environment. Uponclose physical examination of each work, the viewer’s shadow activates the pigments, echoing the way in which the viewer alters the projection via the movement of their body.
We live within a time in which powerful interest groups and commercial entities—particularly those with ultra-conservative ideologies, values, and agendas—have unmitigated control in the determination of individual identities. Perceptions and constructions of who we are come via external sources. Multiplicities of identities are reduced to target audiences, statistics, and hashtags. “Empire of the Senseless II” encourages us to consider the origins, logic, and outcomes of identity formation.
In accordance with bioswop.net, an exchange platform created by the artist, the gallery will not publish Sadr Haghighian’s CV, resume, or biography.