Tarlan Lotfizadeh
Bearing witness to a missing testimony
22.07.2023 - 18.08.2023
︎︎︎ http://www.tarlanlotfizadeh.com

Vernissage / Opening
21.07.2023, 19 Uhr

Ausstellung / Exhibition
22.07.2023 - 18.08.2023

Artist Talk with Bassma El Adisey
13.08.2023, 16 Uhr.

Guided Tour
22.07.2023 & 18.08.2023, 19 Uhr.

“whenever I listen to a stone, I hear a song of a white dove.” Installation View at Kunstraum Aarau, 2023  / photo: Romain Gaigg

“whenever I listen to a stone, I hear a song of a white dove.” Installation View at Kunstraum Aarau, 2023  / photo: Romain Gaigg

“seven or so hours lingering on being a witness” Installation View at Kunstraum Aarau, 2023  / photo: Romain Gaigg

“seven or so hours lingering on being a witness” Installation View at Kunstraum Aarau, 2023  / photo: Romain Gaigg

"Bearing witness to a missing testimony" ist ein vergeblicher Versuch, die fehlenden Erinnerungen von sechs Steinen zu wecken, von denen jeder ein Ereignis zu einem bestAimmten Zeitpunkt der Geschichte bezeugt."

„Bearing witness to a missing testimony" is a futile effort to recall missing memories of six pieces of stones, each bearing witness to an event at some point in history.

kunstraum aarau, Ochsengässli 7, 5000 Aarau
Tarlan Lotfizadeh. Bearing Witness to a Missing Testimony (22.7.–18.8.2023)

Stones do not speak
(Bassma El Adisey)

In the seventh episode of the first season of the series « Stargate » the team around Colonel Jack O'Neill, played by Richard Dean Anderson (b. 1950), lands once again on an amazingly strange planet: In the midst of a powdery yellow desert,  fragmented  blue  crystals  lie  scattered  around  the  arrival  site.  The  research  team  initially  thinks  they  have encountered the ruins of a ritual site. It is not until later in the episode – after O'Neill is knocked unconscious by the touch of a crystal and the crystal has made a duplicate of his human form as its own new life form and learns to speak – that the gate travelers realize the crystals are not ceremonial artifacts. The earthlings learn that the stones are  the  remains  of  a  higher  life  form  that  was  massacred  and  left  in  an  open  mass  grave  before  arriving  at  this location. Why am I telling this here? We also encounter initially silent minerals in Tarlan Lotfizadeh's (b. 1984) exhibition at Kunstraum Aarau. The title « Bearing Witness to a Missing Testimony » (2023) is borrowed from Giorgio Agamben's ( b. 1942) « Was von Auschwitz bleibt » and refers to the philosopher's examination of the possibility of bearing witness to the unwitnessable in the face of the horrors of the Shoah – Agamben confronts the readers of his writing with the question of how survivors of Auschwitz can become witnessing subjects when Auschwitz itself has so dehumanized them? Lotfizadeh's expe rimental set - up is not about subjects from the very beginning. This does not make the failure that is inherent in the project right at the beginning any less fruitful. Stones do not speak, but: Why am I telling this here? In six video screenshots, edited with red tape in such a way that only the stones located by the artist in the images are visible in small peepholes, Lotfizadeh's work « those who saw the Gorgon have not returned to tell about it or have returned mute »  (2021) is the prelude to a multilayered spatial installation consisting of five parts. At the center of the work complex are six stones. Silently they outlast time and with it, space, which, according to the artist, is able to inscribe itself into everything. Purely on the basis of their pictorial form, she brings the silent extras of the video from the screen recordings into her exhibition. With the help of 3D printers, the artist assembles five of the six boulders on the Aarau witness bench. Only the title of this sculptural intervention – « whenever i listen to a stone, i hear a song of a white dove. (Mahmoud Darwish) » (2021)  – relieves the plastic copies of the perpetual silence. Nevertheless,  a  chorus  of  fervently  singing  voices  can  be  heard  in  the  distance.  They  sound  from  the  loudspeakers  of  an adjacently placed video work. « seven hours or so lingering on being witness » (2021)

is a four - minute excerpt from a recording of the seven - hour printing process made by a surveillance camera at the Tehran printing studio. In addition to  the  whirring  and  clattering  of  the  automatic  production  process,  the  singing  described  above  can  be  heard. In reference to Søren Kierkegaard's (1813 - 1855)  « Die Krankheit zum Tode » the artist mounts the socialist revolutionary hymn « The  People  United  Shall  Never  Be  Defeated »  by  Sergio  Ortega  (1938 - 2003),  played  backwards,  into  her video t o break the spell of the music . The epic - like soundscape evokes a sense of reluctant voyeurism. What are we watching here? Have we forgotten that this desperate attempt to give voice to the silent stones can never succeed? Unconsciously, our gaze falls on the print compartment with the number four at the bottom right. Nothing seems to move here, no material is applied, no vain witness emerges. Only later, turned away from the video and also mentally arrived back in the art space, the « failed piece »

(2021) appears at the back left, illuminated by a spotlight. For the Kunstraum Aarau, Lotfizadeh has expanded her installation with a series of 39 chalk - worked cyanotypes on a red background.  Darkly,  the  iron  blue  reveals  the  shades  of  a  topography.  Somewhere  hidden,  the  watermark  of  the virtual globe software has crept in, whose images had served as a template for the unknown printed landscape. Short vertical chalk strokes break through it, depositing themselves on the sheets and reminding us of the markings that prisoners scribble on prison walls – more than half of our bones consist of inorganic minerals, including lime. Why am I telling you this? Tarlan Lotfizadeh'sartistic practice is like a forensic archaeology in which the places and the people who visit them inevitably merge. How can it be that we feel, mourn, love, despair, in short live, and all this is supposed to be deposited only in our own memory?

If we believe that all these sensations determine our being, then we must also believe that  they  influence  our  environment  through  our  body  and  permeate  ourselves  as  well  as  the  things  around  us, charging them. At least, in view of Tarlan Lotfizadeh's works, we can be sure that every life leaves its traces, even if sometimes it seems that these traces are nothing more than plays of light on the hard chunks of the enduring earth. Who  pays  attention  to  the  reappearance,  is  able  to  illuminate  many  a  dark  corner  with  it. Why do I tell this here? Perhaps because stones cannot speak.