Region/Concept: Middle East, Myth
Sub-Concept: Revolution, Forgetting, Virtual Sacrifice
Description: Photographer Azadeh Akhlaghi recreates famous death scenes and murder scenes leading up to the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Revolutionary traces; re-conjured hysteria; virtual martyrology. Are these photographic spectacles acts of morbid nostalgia, fascination, mourning, or a double murder? In that same line, are re-enactments of historical atrocity intended as a form of repetition or distortion (or even erasure), aligned with memory or forgetting? To re-envision the most celebrated corpses of the past, staged with meticulous detail, such that each coffin opens a portal into a time of militancy, struggle, and brutal enchantments. These miniature replicas of a culture’s highest death-checkpoints seemingly restore the beautiful insanity of a utopian/dystopian hour. And still, beneath the surface-appearance of tribute is always the charade and the mockery; after all, can we not perceive at work here a more insidious strategy of desecration, defacement, and banishment of such events to the hollowness of representational universes. No longer tragic, no longer haunting; without even the imitative loyalty of the museum or the mannequin. These vistas are just absurd in their artificial bleeding. No, it is not clear that the accursed visitations of the photographer are meant to honor or redeem the fallen, to iconize the sacrificial leaders of elapsed generations; if anything, we may be faced with an artist who employs the aesthetic zone in order to carry out a second killing. Now held hostage within the purgatory of simulation, where one can only look (but never believe), once-profound scenes of resistance keep their façade of significance all the while having lost their power to ever return. Meaning-evacuation; substance-evacuation (no longer even symbolic, just shown). They are within the display case of the hyper-real now, mirages whose original affects have long since vanished, gutted by an artist who uses flagrancy (melodramatic anguish) to conceal subtlety (imperceptible disappearance), and who thus works behind the curtain of tradition and false courtesy to make sure of just one thing: that the past holds nothing over the future.

Jason Mohaghegh