Jam-e Jam or cup of Jamshid seems to be legendary or supernatural in terms of the reality and functionality for which it was defined about 7000 years ago. According to Persian mythology and mystical texts, the Jam (cup) was made by wise men and filled with an elixir of immortality. It was believed that all seven heavens of the universe could be observed by looking into it. Jaam e Jam was also a resource for dreaming, mind directing and storytelling for its people and bounded thoughts of materiality with ideas of empire, reminiscent of the Jan van Kessel painting “Americque”.
For this project, I decided to dig into the archives and look through the MSU Special Collections, MSU Maps Library, and websites such as Wikipedia, CNN, Reuters, and Voice of America as source material to begin work on this concept between knowledge and how we interact with knowledge. Furthermore, as an Iranian, I wanted to challenge my previous beliefs about issues regarding Iran-US relations, the reaction of people to those relations, and to concepts such as racial discrimination, proletarian rights, civil rights, etc. From the small amount of time that I have lived and studied in the United States, I’ve learned that despite these political and cultural conflicts between the two countries, people are inevitably close to each other as human beings and are chose in their desires. One of the reasons for these disputes and malice may be due to the lack of proper knowledge and incomplete information shared or made accessible to another. To better understand this knowledge gap, and to better understand the causes of this lack of information I decided to analyze archives and media, images that circulated widely with important cultural impact. I selected 15 images from cultural, social, and political events of these societies that had intersections between people, identity, property, power and civil rights among other subject positions. Noting the intersectionality of people within societies could allow for new opportunities of connection that would enable a common language of discourse to bring more unity among people. By enabling this discourse, an intersectional framework allows for strategies that resist political conversation and decisions that have historically divided people.
In relation to this project I was interested to investigate the relationships between knowledge, decision-making, and media between these two societies, and how understanding and misunderstanding have been created. In this work I begin to explore questions that ask who has a benefit, what is the role of the media, who is directing this event, how are they represented to their people, and how are these events and conflicts are archived? How can these archived make the future? In this project, I tried to activate viewers through participation to begin to break down the systems that have enabled a split between the two communities. I asked viewers to make a decision, to select from a group of cards made of transparent acrylic that featured a wide range of images including the history of slavery in Iran and the U.S., Civic demonstrations, and street protests against gender discrimination and immigration laws. Participants were thus entered into a game. As they read and studied the set of images provided, participants were asked to make the best choice to insert into a wooden box. In this first action, where they develop themselves unconsciously, they learn and illuminate their dark parts where selected and overlapped images reveal intersectionalities and similarities for the instances when participants actively read the given material before interacting with the object/box (the piece) there will be less room for hostility and malice.
As part of this project, I hope to remind viewers that they are responsible for all the issues and events surrounding them. Embedded in the work is a mirror for viewers to see them self placed on top of the box. Through their selections of images, and how their hands interact with the object, certain events and images are made visible. By choosing and paying attention to the events around us, or by ignoring and becoming indifferent to them, we make the destiny of our world and alter the course of history.
Practice in Hybrid Visual Culture and Human Intersections, and Relationship between Iran and US
Interactive installation to invite visitors in gallery to educate them about a political issue as well as produce collaborative art through combination of images collected from media.
Wood, digital print on acrylic, electronic board, fabric, mirror mosaic.
Kresge Art Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI