The piece consists of a number of reproductions of works of Western art: extracts from books from the library of the University of Fine Art in Tehran, where Leila Pazooki studied painting. It was between 2004 and 2008 during various trips to her native town that she secretly collected the pictures, amongst them Nymphs of the Spring by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Edouard Manet’s Olympia and Ingres’ Violin by Man Ray. The censorship is sometimes brutal here, or awkward where the flat translucent areas of coloured gouache render the “embarrassing” elements of the artwork more obvious and desirable.
Whether it is applied to images from journalism or art, censorship provides a marker for a society’s values, aspirations and taboos. In the sound piece that accompanies the photographs Leila Pazooki gives a voice to an authorized censor, revealing the ideological motivation behind the piece but also the aesthetic choices and techniques that guide these subjective “reworkings”.
And the displacement of these found images effectively puts their status into question, challenging museum conventions and the concept of originality in art. Removed from their political and religious context, these documents become iconic when the artist mounts them in antique gold frames . It is only then, that these images that have been reproduced a thousand times, reveal their unique and singular craftsmanship, as if this gesture was no longer destructive but rather creative.
Irène Burkel /nadour Collection website
Translated by Theodora Taylor.