Lights! Camera! Inaction.

Where have all the people gone?

MHD5215_1

MHD_5371

 Who made time stand so still? Why is it so damn silent in these pictures?

70x95-Mounted-Inkjet-print-on-Velvet-Photo-Paper-3-Editions-1AP1.jpg1

Suspense, is a feeling best served by Mehdi Abdolkarimi in subtle but sharp contrasts of light and shadow. He conjures it up by distilling extreme contradictions in a single frame. In his series “Siah Vahsh” (see pictures below), there is drama, but nothing happens, there is movement but everything is still, there is excitement, yet everything is empty.

HORSES

DOLPHIN

“Siah Vahsh”, is a Twin Peaksy photography series of animal statues captured with long exposure and occasionally a torch. The photographer had no crew, no extra lighting and definitely no staging.

ZOO

The pictures have been taken at night, in and around Tehran.Yet capturing anything in Tehran at any time of day without cars, people, and generally all sorts of presence is akin to a miracle. I ask him how he managed to create these pictures that are so devoid of urban life in a city that is bursting at the seams. “It wasn’t easy. Being there on those very rare moments when everything was finally still required a lot of waiting, alone at night, often in the middle of a highway crossing, twice I had to flee robbers and dealt often with the inquisitive police.”

2-HORSES

Why then work at night? “It all started with me walking the streets by night in the hope of more peaceful walk but also a different perspective. I started discovering these odd obsolete statues, neither here nor there, devoid of their original decorative intentions, out of place and in a limbo. At night they seemed to take on a life of their own. I found them very inspiring, a reflection of the mood prevalent at the time. So, I persevered, searched, and sought out as many of them as I could. I work alone and don’t choreograph my work, preferring to discover my subjects instead. All that I am looking for is out there, I just need to spend enough time tracking the streets at night (laughs). 

EAGLE

Capturing stillness and suspense already became a hallmark of Mehdi’s work back in 2011 when he did a series titled Home (see pics below). Despite its name, the series feels impersonal, detached, like a roadside motel in a bad 70s movie. A place of transience, secret meetings but certainly no home.

IMG_0001

Untitled-12

He tells me more about the series: “A while back, I was forced to leave town and had to stay at this holiday home which didn’t belong to me, I was alone, couldn’t leave, had to stay put, but I also couldn’t change a single thing in the house. I was staying there but certainly not living there. I wanted to capture this feeling of being suspended. Neither here nor there.”

IMG_0003-1

IMG_0003

To me Mehdi’s work is filled with a melancholy driven by drama that can’t get out. He possess a sharp observant eye which captures contradictions, but also an uneasy silence. Until very recently, Iran was a county whose destiny and future was, at best, unforeseeable. It is no wonder that a feeling of limbo is the omnipresent backdrop to Mehdi’s work.

MHD_7978
Bahman 2013

Mehdi Abdolkarimi is 30 years old and lives and works in Tehran.  All photographs are courtesy of the artists and all rights remain reserved.

Advertisements

One thought on “Lights! Camera! Inaction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s