Embroidered patchwork on quilt
300 x 160 cm
It is as familiar as it seems to be strange when thinking of a traditional representation of a fragmented history in a mélange timeline; this is quite similar to the new logic for many online platforms nowadays to engage the user with multiple stories from different times at once. “Commonwealth” is not that different of this approach where it presents three major currents that have shaped Iran’s history: religion, monarchy and engagement with the west as a historiographical ornament.
This interplay is writ large in the visual arts, as traditional “pardeh” or storytelling curtains, which had begun by depicting the feats of Iran’s heroic kings, were begun to be used more and more to narrate religious stories surrounding the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. Whilst serving an important artistic and folkloric function, these “pardeh” were an important form of religious propaganda, allowing for vivid and emotive narration of key holy events, maintain fervor in believers and thereby securing popular support for the incumbent religion.
The artist patched a series of historical narratives and (mostly) flatten them into a surface where their overloaded meanings are reduced to visual elements. The enormous size of the piece is majestical, however it is in paradox of the blankness in the center. All the elements are moved to the periphery and the center of this quilt presents traces of removal and censored. Although the work as a whole is seen as a system for storytelling, the center of the piece (the place for the supreme ruler, the sovereign, the king, the emperor) is removed and made this part of the story unaccessible