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Massy Interviews / Yasaman Moussavi + Elmira Sarreshtehdari

As South-American curator and theorist Suely Rolnik would propose – the world is in convulsion, and so are we. In face of the sinister global landscape that shapes our political, aesthetic, and symbolic worlds, Massy Arts hosts between Nov 15 – Jan 12, A Wish To Voice, a group show curated by arts coordinator Rafael Zen with works by visual artists Nadia Alikashani, Darius Kian, Parvin Peivandi, Mehran Modarres-Sadeghi, Ellie Fernandes, Yasaman Moussavi, and Elmira Sarreshtehdari.

Questioning the embodiment of macropolitics by the individual, the excitability of political speeches on/in/by the body, and the place of the artist facing the uprising of reactive/conservative forces by state-nations, this show asked South American and Middle Eastern visual artists living in Vancouver to exhibit works that represented a wish to voice, or a wish to change.

The Massy Arts Gallery is located at 23 East Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver.
The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to 5pm.
Entrance is free, and masks are mandatory.

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To celebrate A Wish To Voice, Rafael Zen interviews Yasaman and Elmira for Massy Arts, investigating the role of poetic works in critical times, and asking: what can art do about a crisis of the soul?

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Yasaman Moussavi + Elmira Sarreshtehdari / We use thread and needle as if we can mend the wounded body of our history

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Rafael Zen – Why did you accept the invitation to be part of a collective show on the theme of “desires of voice, and desires of change”? When you look at the work you are bringing to this show, what do you think they say about the present? Do they scream, or do they whisper? What dialogues are you hoping to establish?

Yasaman + Elmira – The invitation to this thought-provoking exhibition coincided with the current women-led uprising in Iran. After a few weeks of being mentally and creatively frozen, we, Yasaman Moussavi and Elmira Sarreshtehdari, started collaborating on a textile project based on these distressing events.

This work became a representation of our embodied and overwhelming emotions tangled with our everyday life living in Canada. We intend to use this exhibition not only to get engaged in a dialogue with the audiences, specifically regarding the critical situation in Iran but also to create a larger conversation relating to the contemporary human condition by finding commonalities with other artists in the exhibition.

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RZ – One of the inspirations of the curation for this show was a text by Suely Rolnik that starts with: “the world is in convulsion, and so are we”. How do you think this political, ethical and aesthetic moment shapes/influences your work as an artist that carries intersectional identities? How do you feel about your process in the present, now, November 2022 in Canada?

Y+E – Although being very difficult, we had a sense of urgency to react creatively to the complicated political condition in Iran. Imitating the conversations revolving around the pieces of news received from social media, we initiated an ongoing tactile and performative art project that extends and expands gradually.

The scope of the information that we are constantly consuming does not let us have enough time and mental space to fully digest the situation. As if we are obligated to move from each image text or announcement to the next piece of news appearing before us without any hesitation.

As a result, we found a necessity for a fast-paced form of art-making to illustrate the ever-unfolding and unfinished nature of this situation.

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RZ – In critical times, what is the role or potency of art facing fascisms, capitalisms, colonialisms, isms, isms? I think I am trying to ask that recurrent question: what can art do about a crisis of the soul?

Y+E – From the Covid 19 pandemic to the recent challenging time in our home countries, our collaborative practices have been a way to make a better understanding of the crisis we have been experiencing.

The way in which ideas and knowledge of events change, evolve and/or vanish is embedded in the dialogic act of exchanging pieces of art between us. Similar to the unprecedented occurrences unfolding in front of our eyes, we follow our materials to take us to the next step. Layers upon layers gather as we revisit our mutual painful memories and encounter unknown circumstances without a clear future residing on our political horizon.

We use thread and needle as if we can mend the wounded body of our history and move towards recovery and healing of those we have lost so far. Surging out our discordant parts like a cancerous limb and replacing them with patches as a reflection of hope.

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