Photograph away your blues

After a brief hiatus, we are back on this very merry cheery Christmas day.

We are delighted to speak about YPA’s first film maker (stroke photographer stroke multimedia guru).

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Born in Isfahan, residing and working in Tehran, 28 year-old Aliyar told me more about himself and his work over a “Skype afternoon”.  Turns out a simple Skype call just wasn’t enough.

He spent the first years of his life in Isfahan and admits to still being spell bound by the beauty and charm of the city. He credits the city for being the initial influence on his studies in Architecture. The rigidity of the discipline however didn’t allow him to answer his creative questions, so he turned to photography, then film, then video installations. His recent work “Pro.Logue” took two years to complete and is made up of six film loops projected onto elevated surfaces standing together to make an extremely meditative immersive whole. He claims the work to be a study of the passing of time but also an attempt at bringing the viewer into the moment and into the moment between moments. View the installation at Tehran’s Araan gallery here: Pro.Logue

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Still from video Pro.Logue
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Still from video Pro.Logue

Much of Aliyar’s work has been shown outside of Iran, in Europe, Asia and the US. I enquire if different audiences react to his work differently. He tells me that due to constricting regulations relating to military service, he has not left the country in a decade and does not know first hand, but then tells me of the reception of Pro.Logue in Iran’s most religious city Mashhad. “It was somehow more human, the audience was less cynical and more pure. The caretaker of the local mosque came to visit, it was very interesting. Pointing at the videos, he asked me – what is this? Why do I need to look at it? Where does it start, when does it end? It really made me think in basic but deep terms about my work. So I told him: you don’t have to look at it if you don’t want to. That’s up to you. But perhaps you can simply stand in front of it and see how it makes you feel. He seemed to like it, said it felt spiritual, and we ended up having a good conversation about it all after that.

What initially drew my attention toward Aliyar was not his calm, meditative work, but a clip called “City as Art” (Turn on your volume and watch it here: City as Art). It is inspired by what he has in front of his nose, TEHRAN – a beating, heaving chaos of a city. And yet, as if by magic, in “City as Art”, Aliyar manages to conduct the mess of Tehran into a functioning inviting pulse.

Stills from City as Art:

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I press for a back story to “City as Art”… This is not a real picture of Tehran, but at the time I made it, I think it was needed. I made this in 2012 at a moment when the city was plunged in melancholy. The sociopolitical turbulences we routinely deal with where taking their toll. It was time for something positive. I don’t know how relevant the clip is now as the mood has shifted considerably, but at the time I feel it worked well. 

Artists often have an intimate understanding of melancholy. In a photography series titled “30 Days”, Aliyar expresses the feeling with all its poetic chords. The series was made in a time of distress for him: I took 30 photographs across 30 days, one each day. It was me, my camera, my surroundings and nothing more. I gave into my feelings and simply took photgraphs, letting time simply pass. I did it for the experience, but ultimately to get to know myself a little better.

The result is a series of iconic photographs with melancholy undertones that depict life in a very complex, often contradictory but still very human city.

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Perhaps that is what makes Aliyar so special. He manages to get through the mess to the heart of his subjects, exposing beauty where no one knew it existed.

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All photos and videos curtesy and property of artist Aliyar Rasti

Copyright © 2015 ALIYAR RASTI. All Rights Reserved.

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