Two years have passed since Nazgol Ansarinia held her last solo exhibition at Green Art Gallery, where her investigation into the very fabric of the built environment of her native Tehran manifested itself in works such as Membrane, a 3D casting of the wall of a home that had been demolished. In the intervening time she has become more and more affected by the incessant demolition and new-build projects across the city, the ongoing cycle of construction and deconstruction that’s a result of the capitalists government’s attempt to modernize and commerialise the city. It was the chief subject of a major solo exhibition Fragments, Particles and the Mechanisms of Growth, which the artist presented at KIOSK in Ghent from December 2017 until February 2018, with many works travelling to Dubai this March.
The exhibition Demolishing Buildings, Buying Waste includes a combination of drawings, collages and sculptures, offering snapshots of this cyclical process and the constant reuse of the same materials. A video work Fragment 1, Demolishing Buildings, Buying Waste records the demolition of a single building in Tehran that took 16 days. There is a sense of brute power and relentlessness in the way the task was carried out with just a shovel and pickaxe.
I watched the original Green Art Gallery in Jumeirah be demolished by a bulldozer, I happened to live on the same street at the time and we had recently been evicted from our villa. There was something truly heartbreaking about a place filled memories and history being turned into dust – sadly this is a reality for far too many people in the world today. What is terrifying and what Ansarinia feels it is so vital to highlight is how it has become the norm, as she says: “something so banal that has gone unnoticed, so repetitive that it became part of routine life.”
Green Art Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, March 19 – May 3, 2018.
Featured image: Nazgol Ansarinia, closeups, photo by Rachel Gruijters, Green Art Gallery.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, page 28.