WAIKATO’S HOME OF FINE ART
Tehran, Iran b. 1949
Siavash Momeny depicts everyday objects wrapped in newspaper. Though their surface is masked, the objects are clearly recognisable. A pram, bicycle and a sewing machine are some of the objects used. By covering an object such as a bicycle, it becomes universal rather than particular. The viewer sees a bicycle from their memory, not from the artist’s studio.
Objects from our past are locked in with our memories and associations. We connect things we no longer use with periods in our lives. When these items were wrapped and put away, the newspapers used to protect them were current. It is another reminder of not only our personal memory of the object, but also the wider association of that period in history; what was happening around us at that time. Though disguised in newspaper, the wrapped object offers a more complex story of that point in time than the item alone. A childhood item wrapped in news that lay outside of one’s then insulated world, may offer in hindsight a greater perspective on those in your life at the time, and the things that happened around you.
The sight of recognisable forms wrapped in newspaper also communicates the idea of moving from a place, or a period in our lives, and perhaps a changing mental state associated with this move. This veil of newspaper provides a cursory covering for the object but the protection offered is tenuous, suggestive of a metaphor for the human condition and symbolising the protective layer we try to cover ourselves with when we are vulnerable. In reality there are no cast iron protective shells and we are forced to persevere regardless.
The images also speak of the transient nature of news and how it is presented and consumed by readers. The news of the September 11 attacks in the United States sit next to the Job Vacancies, illustrating that endeavour does not cease because of world calamities and that all personal experience is unique. There is an often incongruous juxtaposition between text and object. Seemingly innocent items that offer joy or comfort are covered with headlines about war, financial undertakings, both successful and unsuccessful, child abuse and religious commentary. This disconcerting tool of combining personal property with international news drives home the reality of these events.
Inferences of migration and change are prominent themes in Momeny’s work. Originally from Iran, Momeny studied at Tehran University before immigrating to New Zealand more than twenty years ago. Since moving to New Zealand Momeny has been working as a Designer of several large design firms in both Auckland and Wellington.
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