Technical Problem
Technical Problem is an exhibition of mixed media drawings by Vancouver-based, Iranian-born artist Aileen Bahmanipour that explores cyclical political power and cultural identity. Bahmanipour’s work draws from Iran’s mythic history such as the story of King Zahak contained in the national epic poem Shahnameh written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 CE. Zahak was cursed by the kiss of the devil with two snakes that grew out of his shoulders. According to the legend, he began beheading the youth of Iran to feed their brains to his snakes. Fearful of being bitten by the snakes, Zahak sacrificed the future intellectual life of an entire nation. The works in the exhibition reference Persian miniature painting, creating an allegorical language that shifts between the political reality of Bahmanipour’s home country, narrative construction, and personal symbolism. She elicits the contradictions between Iran’s mythic past and relationship to modernity as a utopic ideal in contrast with the state’s ongoing repressive control of its people. Medical illustrations and cross sections of limbs combined with animal and abstract forms mimic the border between the interior and exterior, and dissect the past as a reflection of the present. Bahmanipour’s work is both fantastical and meticulous, expressing a process of transformation unfolding and in tension.
My practice is characterized by an inter-disciplinary approach involving mixed media drawings and paintings that explore issues of personal identity in a narrative form. Using painting and drawing as my primary media, I create a visual critical dialogue that incorporates my own life experiences, personal identity, and cultural history through a subjective storytelling language. I refer to Persian literature and mythology; deconstruct elements of Iranian traditional painting; and manipulated appropriated imagery into a multilayered network of personal myths. In addition, I use medical illustrations and cross-sections to mimic borders between interior and exterior, and to dissect the past as a reflection of the present. I use autopsy to cut through these borders and uncover truths hidden beneath the skin of reality. I subvert scientific illustration to bring new meaning to the form. I explore chaos in my practice, teasing the borders between story, life, and reality. My work refers to a cultural past and a contemporary present, using an allegorical aesthetic to engage with questions of cyclical political power. My narratives express a mult-factored, interlocking approach to storytelling, while my artistic process pursues the possibility of a storytelling form that is rooted in both cultural history and personal experiences. My work is an act of constant revision that casts personal interpretations on contemporary political situations through historical contexts.