Identities in Movement - Gohar Dashti
co-curated by Artemis Akchoti Shahbazi and Daniela Veneri
“My feeling is that everything is still in the past, that we didn't really change much, we just repeat the past in different ways. I think my work is talking about my experiences that maybe will be future experiences of someone else.” - Gohar Dashti
Gohar, what projects you are working on excite you most and why?
Now I'm really enjoying working on new upcoming catalogue in Milan.
What are your most important goals as an artist?
Keep working and feel free when I make artworks. I feel joy and euphoria when I am making art.
What moves you in your work?
The process of producing art is what is really enjoyable for me.
Who are your most important partners and interlocutors?
My husband Hamed who is an artist and art advisor.
What unites past, present, and future in your artistic practice?
My feeling is that everything is still in the past, that we didn't really change much, we just repeat the past in different ways. I think my work is talking about my experiences that maybe will be future experiences of someone else.
What kind of contribution would you like your work to have? What is that you want to tell people?
I utilize staging in my artistic practice, to focus on a range of social and political issues pertaining to the complex relationship between identity, citizenship and the meaning of home. Drawing on my personal interest in anthropology and sociology, as well as my experiences of growing up in a country debilitated by multiple wars, I use photography and video to discuss how the intimate relationship between mankind and nature can create new narratives related to issues on global migration. I reflect on my experiences of living between Iran, the United States, and Europe; exploring how cultural diaspora and nature are delicately connected.
For me, nature remains my touchstone no matter where I am physically. Landscape plays a powerful role in my experiences, which I view, both as an unexpected protector and an astute messenger of a world out of balance.
What you think is the role of arts and culture today?
I think arts open the way for people to understand much more about what happens in the world. Art and culture can have an important role in society.
I as an Artist never offer any solutions for such cultural and social problems within my works but I do try to raise these issues through an over-play of the social realities.
Our planet has been dealing with a public health crisis spreading all over and museums, exhibitions, arts, and cultural sites, have been closing the doors in many countries. What is your feeling about the consequences of this pandemic, how will it influence our approach to producing, sharing, and experiencing the arts?
I think public art can have an important role now, because it's outside and people can really engage with it. It's a good time that even museums start showing works outside their buildings. Considering the audience as part of an art project is also a very interesting idea.
What do you think changes when art is showed outside of museums?
What changes for artists is the audience, because the audience of a museum, which is a cultural house, is different from the audience that you can reach in street. Art is for all people.
If you were able to change one or two things in the area of responsibility of artists, art curators, institutions, cultural producers, exhibition platforms, what things do you think would create the most value and benefit for all?
Artists would have much chance to have a free or affordable Art / Home studio in all cities.
I would change the art marketing and try to make art for the public more.
How would you imagine applications processes for artists residencies?
I would suggest institutions to research about artists a that point, as an artist I could write a motivation about why I'd like to go. Sometimes I just need being in a quiet atmosphere and an art residency is an opportunity for me to research, create, reflect and make my art. In this opportunity, I could get acquainted with artists in various fields and learn from their experiences. These learned things would greatly influence my artistic creations since the art is directly related to life and when artists are in one place they all affect and learn from each other.
Gohar Dashti received her M.A. in photography from the Art University of Tehran in 2005. For the past 15 years she has been making large scale photography with a particular focus on social issues. Her work references history and contemporary culture, as well as the convergence of anthropological and sociological perspectives; employing a unique, quasi-theatrical aesthetic, she brings to bear a diverse intellectual and cultural experience to illuminate and elaborate upon her perception of the world around her.
In her most recent works, Dashti has explored, through her highly stylized, densely poetic observations of human and plant-life, the innate kinship between the natural world and human migrations. Fascinated with human-geographical narratives and their interconnection to her own personal experiences, Gohar Dashti believes that nature is what connects her to the multiple meanings of ‘home’ and ‘displacement’, both as conceptual abstractions, and as concrete realities that delineate and contour our existence. The result is a series of quirky landscapes and portraits, as lush as they are arch, inciting questions about the immense, variegated, border-eschewing reach of nature – immune to cultural and political divisions – and the ways in which immigrants inevitably search out and reconstruct familiar topographies in a new, ostensibly foreign land.
Gohar Dashti’s works have found homes around the globe in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C.; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), Chicago, and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris. She has been awarded numerous art fellowships including a MacDowell, Peterborough, NH (2017), DAAD award, Berlin (2009-2011) and Visiting Arts (1Mile2 Project), Bradford/London (2009).
Note: This interview was published on Rondò Pilot, issue no. 1.0, 2020.