HOUSTON, Texas––On Transcending the Inhabited Space at O’kane Gallery, Houston, Texas (August 16- September 25, 2018) consists of two, related installations by the Iranian-American artist, Raheleh Filsoofi. Rooted both in Iran and the United States, her work spans the gulf between the culture of ancient Persia and international trends in art as they are interpreted in the Americas. Her conceptual approach to art, which features video and sound, enables her to address important contemporary issues, often through psychological perception. She is fascinated by the sense that place has in one’s identity and how visual and aural stimulae serve to define it.
The multimedia installation Imagined Boundaries (2016) looks at the real and artificial divisions that separate societies in America and Iran. Boxes arranged in a honeycomb with cut-out designs recall forms in Persian architecture are used as channels for looking from the present reality of the display to the simultaneous reality of another exhibition space in Iran. There are people there, too, and they look through the channel at you, the visitor, as you look back at them. Who are they? What are they thinking? Is it foreign or familiar? The installation challenges the viewer to ask what is on the other side and what the border in between really means. By fostering engagement through art, Filsoofi addresses the need for dialogue across distances that can be crossed easily through communications and transport technology, but that remain apart, largely due to rhetoric.
The Inh(a/i)bited Space (2018), on the other hand, addresses one’s sense of being in regard to place. Focusing on her own memories and perceptions of the places that she has passed through, Filsoofi builds a form of the inner mind from ceramic vessels, wires, and sounds. The viewer is invited into an environment of sound, from the music of a stringed instrument to the symphonic background of birdsong. Wires lead from one vessel to another in the same way that thoughts and impressions pass from one to another in a stream of consciousness that is akin to the rhizomatic structure of plants. The nexus of experience that the installation represents is disrupted by technology and by the rhetoric of selective travel bans that result in anxiety, psychological displacement and inner inhibitions that outweigh any sense of overt privilege.
Text (edited) from O’kane Gallery.