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The Iranian artist Farkhondeh Shahroudi used the fabric of camouflage uniforms to create a series of peculiar “Guards”. Collars, sleeves, legs – all the openings are sewn shut or to each other. Together with added pieces of fabric, the uniform parts result in weird, seemingly helpless figures. They ironically counterpoise the aggressive aura normally produced by those, in whatever army, who wear combat uniforms made of such fabric. The raise questions of protection and threat, of being a victim or perpetrator, of the task of soldiers, of the sense and justification of military measures in themselves.
In May 2005, these works were presented in a very special context in Berlin’s Museum for Islamic Art, which is housed in the famous Pergamon Museum. In his effort to occasionally open the venerable institution to contemporary art, Director Claus-Peter Haase invited the artist, who has lived in Berlin since 2001, to install her “Guards” in the room containing the 15th-century Iranian and Ottoman suits of armor. Next to the martial helmets, breastplates, and chain mail, the maimed mutants seemed especially helpless and in need of protection. They floated as if bodiless in the room – an impression that was intensified by the way the camouflage pattern of the uniform fabric seemed to ornamentally dissolve into the background of oriental carpets and tiles on the walls.
Before one reached this room, one climbed a long stairway, past photo series by the artist (including “Tormenting”) straight toward a large video projection on which one could see a scissors cutting camouflage material and the sharp steel of a knife passing across a mouth.
In an accompanying text, Claus-Peter Haase pointed out the significance that the act of sewing has for Farkhondeh Shahroudi: "The connecting, closing, blocking, and the defensive capability of the instrument, the needle, trigger feelings that go beyond the satisfaction of handicraft design. In Persian, the image of ‘Suzan/Needle’ has clear associations, understandable for everyone, with ‘Tormenting’.”
Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt
Publishers of Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art and of Nafas Art Magazine. Based in Berlin, Germany.
Farkhondeh Shahroudi: Guards
Installation in the room for Oriental Suits of Armor at the Museum of Islamic Art Berlin
29 April - 29 May 2005
Museum of Islamic Art
Am Kupfergraben 5