ZAHAK-NAMEH
   
“Zahak-Nameh,” is characterized by an interdisciplinary practice involving a series of mixed media drawings and paintings that explore issues of cyclical political power and cultural identity rehearsed in narrative form as personal mythologies that I experience in Iran, where I have been searching for my historical identity through my life experiences and in my aesthetic practice. Iranian society, too, has been wrestling with the challenges of reconciling its historical identity with its present reality. Iran's history is mythical, a labyrinth of stories with ironic and metaphoric roots in reality.

Painting is the medium I have chosen to discover my cultural past and contemporary present. Through my art, I dissect the past as a reflection of present using an allegorical aesthetic to engage with issues of cyclical political power. Language is my primary connection to my cultural history. For this reason, I started my research in identifying identity with Shahnameh, ("The Book of Kings," 977-1010) by Ferdowsi. I became interested in the story of Zahak, a king who, by the kiss of the devil, was cursed with two snakes that began to grow from his shoulders. According to legend, he started beheading the youth of Iran to feed their brains to his snakes. Fearful of being bitten by his own snakes, Zahak sacrificed the thinking power of an entire nation. Zahak's story seems so similar to contemporary Iranian society, in which the government suppresses new ideologies just because of its fear of losing central political-religious power.

Re-Contextualizing this specific myth along with my multiple references to Persian miniature painting and its compositions, I knew from the start that I didn't want to make "Iranian Art"; I wanted to coexist and interact with my history, to live in the present. Thus, through my artwork, I express myself as a subject in the act of "becoming" rather than "being." I reconstruct reality through an allegorical subjective language nurtured by Persian literature and Middle Eastern mythology. By creating a multilinear storytelling network, I develop a discourse between political reality, narrative construction, and personal symbolism. I use historical lithographed medical illustrations and cross sections to mimic the border between interior and exterior, to explore the representational cycle of political power, and to dissect the past as a reflection of the present. Autopsy allows me to cut through borders and uncover truths hidden beneath the skin of reality. In the traditional Persian illustrated books, the space of the page breaks to make space for either image or text. Sometimes this breakage makes a hierarchy of what seems to be ergon and what is parergon. With the similar formula, I break these frames of Ergons and parergon in a way that now they are transformed into different layers in my work, each layer affects the other.

I see my work as both a continuation of traditional Iranian painting and a contemporary critique of history. Through subverting scientific illustration, I give the form a new context. Similarly, through appropriating the style and composition of traditional Iranian painting, I deconstruct the medium.
   
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