About Video Performance “Come Closer, Closer… Closer than this?”
Ali Ettehad | Curator, Writer and Critic
There something happens in artist’s mind – a narration- he does not share with others. There exists personalities in Parvizi’s mental background whose secret life has overflowed for a few moments and the addressees take part in that for a couple of minutes. The narrative of mental world is naked and as it comes to the surface (is expressed) censorship mechanism begins. From inside the strong system of censorship it is the joint codes which grasp the duty of meaning transmission; a factor that is dependant most on the work and addressee’s “isomorphism”.
A girl (Negar Mostowfi: the main character in the performance), in a disordered monolog, utters words resembling single and irrelevant pieces of a puzzle. The guide map for falling the pieces into place is “isomorphism”. According to perception of the forming texture of work, the addressee gets joint codes and decodes them. Hence by decoding, the objective image forms in front of the addressee gradually. Yet “Come Closer” is not about meaning transmission, but mostly censorship, lie and projection. The performance is about anything but the “direct transmission of concepts”_ a corrosive and comprehensive expression which in the performance is the mechanism of delaying perception. Once entering the work’s atmosphere, the addressee hears Negar’s voice who requests in an endless repetition: “come closer”, and she herself answers: “closer than this?!” When the questioner and the one who answers are reduced to one, the nature of the question disappears. For a moment the addressee imagines that the girl’s voice is calling him or her, but later, the verbal communication between the speaker and addressees is cut by the girl’s next statement which proves him the girl’s conversation to be an inner one.
The monolog of “delirium chamber”; a name chosen by the artist for the first chamber but is not shared directly with viewers, is a rear-guard action to describe an event that has seemingly led to catastrophe. In a closed frame and an image being exaggeratedly enlarged, and with staring eyes, Negar recounts her meeting in a winter day in a cafe whose local features are unknown. She utters her own statements, another two men and also her mental voice. The sentences are incomplete and sometimes meaningless, but the relationship among sayings, speaker’s tone, repetition and the added elements to girl’s digital picture (her face) provides the possibility of a significant relation approximately. Accusation, force imposition, fear from secret relationship, etc are all the codes making the addressee engage Negar’s puzzled narration by means of the subject “isomorphism”. Although the abovementioned elements make the process of meaning transition a little easy, another element is attached to performance so that mechanism of “delay” dominates the work’s structure once more. The cello player! A girl whose face and body are covered, sitting in a glass cage exactly above Negar’s monolog video. Her playing blurs some parts of the monolog and sometimes covers the speech completely. Negar is in the last saloon behind the glass with Iranian women’s prison clothes and it seems as if the one standing before her –on the other side of the glass- is not the addressee but the investigator. Negar passes investigation stages anxiously; an investigation during which we don’t hear the questions but we encounter too many answers. “A senior college student”, “16th street, plate 4”, “you pushed it”, “my eye prickled!”, “there was smoke everywhere that day”, …. Parvizi has developed a coherent narrative in the mind_ a packed one. Then he places himself in psychoanalyzed person’s position; as if the therapist has asked him to release the rush of statements in method of free association until they move across the addressee’s sentences. Dispersed statements attach to the artist’s socio-cultural texture quickly and they start their work for decoding. For instance those which are joined with “jealousy” and “treachery” discourse or attach “smoky and firing streets” to Negar’s narrative are all considered keys to decipher the work. Although offering such decoding elements, “come closer” still is delaying the process of meaning transmission; since most of the signs applied in the body of work are those floating signifiers which do not only refer to the signified but also changes their meaning thoroughly by shift in the work’s ground and yet they recall another conversation. But what is all this delay for?
Projection and delay in meaning transmission are both familiar and extensive archetypes of artist’s culture. Parvizi talks about a culture where the system of collective unconscious judiciary categorizes roles of great historical narratives into two general groups of black and white. The agent of evil will always remain the same. For example the greatest Persian epic and mythological poem is the one where antagonist is external [to non-Iranian meaning] or has been put aside from its natural system by means of an intoxicating substance or magic. In simple words, the universe is created in absolute discipline and “the other one” ignores this order. Parvizi challenges a cultural system in which there has not been compiled any “affidavit” for about a millennium. On the other hand, to delay meaning transmission is also the dominant pattern in Persian literature and wisdom. The discourse and coded writings in this realm go as far as whom standing outside the author’s surroundings will not know much about his discourse. Challenging these two archetypical factors (seem to be the case for people of a particular region in the world), Parvizi targets a more general idea too. The totality of “Come Closer”_ whether from viewpoint of theme or its objective creation_ is an icon of “looking for the lost ideal”; looking without any result. With sudden displacements, change in height, stairs going up and down without reason, and the corridors meandering in absolute darkness, the addressees between the two mentioned saloons will reach nowhere. If we regard the video-performance narrative and also the performer’s live performance as reconstruction of “the symbolic”, then the totality of the exhibition with its labyrinth installation will be an image of “the real”; a labyrinth postponing the act of achieving “the lost ideal” every time. Hence Negar’s second question (closer than this?!) will find such an answer: yes, closer, but I will never reach you!