Sanaz Mazinani

Sanaz Mazinani’s latest collection of photographic works challenges the viewer to be aware of what they are really looking at. We spoke with the Iranian born artist.

Mazinani is currently based between Canada and San Francisco. Her photographic works and projects deal primarily with social issues often bringing in elements of her Iranian heritage.

She has long been concerned with the dissociation that occurs between the experience of an event and its photographic record. Her latest exhibition, titled Frames of the Visible, takes images of war sources from the Internet, restructuring them to alter our perception and experience of the images.

(f) How does the central topic of war relate to the exploration of perception in the Frames of the Visible series?

(SM) To me knowledge is often directly linked to perception. When you want to buy a new pair of boots or a car you start to notice that same item everywhere. All of a sudden you have special radar for that particular thing. Having a focus allows you to perceive the nuances of that particular object. And since we live in such a digitally saturated world we get a great deal of our information through online sources. But unless we are already tuned in, we can miss it all. So for me it is important to question what is made visible to us. And to wonder how aware I am of war.

(f) What role does the concept of time, play in your work?

(SM) It takes me a good deal of time to make the work. And I find the process rather meditative. When I begin making one of the pieces I get completely absorbed into it. Almost immersed in the image and the subject. I feel rather energised when I finally zone back out and see what it is that I have actually produced.

(f) How does your Iranian heritage influence the patterns within the images?

(SM) I began making this work after an extended trip to Iran, where I visited numerous architectural sites. I saw some incredible designs in structures such as mosques and palaces through out the country, and once I was back in the studio I started to make these patterned works. I had already been working with sourced imagery, but had left for the trip without a clear plan on how to express my ideas about the digital networks through which we connect to our information.

The breathtaking forms of Islamic ornamentation had never before entered my work, but after the trip in 2010 I began reading up on the ideas behind these symmetrical geometries that are such an important part of so many nations and ethnicities in the East. I was blown away to find out that the patterns stand in for the idea oftransformation’. So that when we see a repeating form, the surface becomes a window onto the infinite, a doorway into other possibilities. And for me this was a rather poetic gesture to speak about the limitlessness of our digital world and the potentials of a more utopic existence.

(f) The exhibition mentions a ‘globalised world’. How do you believe different cultures will respond to these works?

(SM) The 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Rumi, wrote, “Speak a new Language so that the world can be a new world”. I believe that visual language is exceptionally positioned to communicate, and that the artistic medium is powerful for that reason. Art can cut through and communicate on its own terms, challenge censorship and the status quo, and can speak more directly to her audience.

The remainder of 2014 is a busy few months for Mazinani as she looks to projects for early 2015. She will be creating a new public installation for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and taking part in a group exhibition at the di Rosa Museum, Napa, USA titled ONES AND ZEROS, that will look at the digital revolution and its infiltration into our lives.

Mazinani’s exhibition Frames of the Visible is on display Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York until Saturday 24 May 2014.

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