“It seems as if we have yielded to the Victorian system from long time ago and even today we follow that. A royal sanctimony shows off on our hidden, silent and hypocritical sexuality” Michel Foucault
Ramin Etemadi Bozorg returned to Mohsen Gallery this May with the collection of We Have Observed Love.
When we step into the gallery some seductive parts of body, which are twisted into each other, are awaiting to surprise us. The excitement while facing with the forbidden dialogue of pleasure is the theme of this exhibition. To counter the dominance of censorship dialogue, the artist in this collection takes advantage of a similar weapon, namely the censorship itself. By crossing out the body parts and by bringing in non-risky and generally asexual organs like limbs, Etemadi wisely depicts an “illegitimate” affair in a “legitimate” framework.
In his previous two collections of Etemadi, I mean “the Documents of Ramin Etemadi Bozorg” and “the Documents of a Tragedy” he has formed the direct participation of audience of the artwork; however, in the present collection this participation exists in another form. The viewers’ imagination power was supposed to guess the artist’s omitted parts and hence a challenge would be created when faced with every artwork, as if they are completing an enticing jigsaw puzzle of the creation. Non-risky parts of body, like arms and legs, are twisted into each other and engaged in making love and they invite the audience to watch the absent presence; in fact the effect of what is not seen but is part of the relationship of these bodies which are silenced and left out.
The realm of sexuality in the contemporary Iranian artists’ works is an uncharted and perforce less-trodden territory. While reviewing the ancient history of Iran in the labyrinth of the One-Thousand-and-One Night Stories and the relationship between the masters and maids, the butlers and the women in Harem those representations could be traced in the literature and also in a number of paintings, especially the paintings in the Isfahan school. It shows the reigning silence over sexuality, at least in the realm of art, is a relatively contemporary phenomenon. But to break the silence in collections, as is the case in the recent collection of Etemadi, is an outlet from the dialogue of power which is dominant over the dialogue of S-E-X. In here when we talk about power, we necessarily don’t mean the power which imposes bans and restrictions on behalf of the religious or legal authorities, but a power which is formed at the heart of social culture and has imprisoned sexuality, confines it to homes and denounces any function apart from reproduction and seeks to organize the relationship. A function which, in Foucault’s views, leads to more sexual drives by creating restrictions. In fact, the audience of this exhibition are indirectly invited to take a sneak peek at some angels of privacy at one of the most public institutions of the society. In essence the appeal for this forbidden affair stems from the very characteristic.
Ramin Etemadi Bozorg in this collection takes us to watch an anthem of freedom. The feeling after this exhibition is similar to the feeling after confession; pleasing and lighthearted. Michelle Foucault in this extraordinary work, The History of Sexuality, writes: “… but maybe there is another reason which makes the relationship between S-E-X and power based on suppression so much satisfactory for us; something which may be called the speaker’s benefit. If sex is suppressed it means it is sentenced to restriction and omission and silence; merely talking about it and talking about suppressing it is a willful violation and he who uses such a language, puts himself outside the realm of power, infringes upon the law and, though in small amount, facilitates the prospective freedom.”
Like the Sun
Throws away the mask
And shines on the rooftops and every door
Like a manifestation
Shines like a lightning
And when it fades away
The human being rises up