Dubai-based artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian work collectively to create expansive installations composed of artworks and artefacts. Taking the form of visual poetry by incorporating and disorganising objects from the Powerhouse Museum collection, this project, includes artefacts such as Skylab space debris, a donkey’s hoof, anatomical models, ceramics, and textiles. Commissioned for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, their project titled, I Prefer Talking to Doctors About Something Else, makes a sweeping arc across the themes of grief, the body and healing. Humans, animals, food, adornment, medicine and other technologies entwine in this visual composition, which includes the video work, Porkhani, by fellow Iranian artists Javad Azimi and Hamid Hosseini.
In considering this installation as visual poetry – as a form of reading and being in the world – the process has involved selecting handcrafted objects in dialogue with industrial and technological ones.
My Shadow and the earth’s
Come down toward me, sky, come rest
in my narrow grave,
on my wide brow,
and become faceless and without hands,
without rattle in your throat, without a pulse.
Come down, draw your shape as two,
my shadow and the earth’s.
The multiplicity of objects (there are 89 collection objects in total) are juxtaposed with various writings – scientific texts have been chosen to coexist with poetry and philosophy.
Through the layering of materiality, knowledge and information, we strived to create an environment in which reading poetry and other discursive modes are equally as important as experiencing the objects on display. Along with the objects and their didactics, texts by various poets, writers and thinkers on the subjects of grief, hole theory, otherness and natural history are included, such as Adonis, Wisława Szymborska, Judith Butler and Walter Benjamin.
The sensory experience is amplified by walls painted in fluorescent yellow, with a thin strip of a glowing light snaking through the space, inspired by daily urban life and its current sense of urgency. In some places emergency tape is strung up.
Intermittently, the sound of singing permeates the installation as the video work by Azimi and Hosseini documents a Porkhani ritual – a healing ceremony performed by the Turkmen people of Northern Iran. As a form of traditional medicine, the songs and performance are rooted in ancient shamanistic beliefs to heal mental and physical illness. The ceremony in this case was conducted for the endangered Caspian seal species, which is now under threat due to hunting, over-fishing and other human-induced environmental impacts.
We have constructed a psychic and physical space that moves through grief, reflects on otherness and concludes with a healing ceremony for the wounded earth. This intrinsically collaborative process encompasses friends, museum staff and audiences.
Written by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, Katie Dyer