Inside the Collection

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian: I Prefer Talking to Doctors About Something Else

Exhibition view with Soviet-era satellite in the foreground. On the same plinth are a selection of models from casts of horse jaws and in the background a large-scale video projection. The walls are painted fluoro yellow and have LED strip lighting.
Installation view showing Soviet-era Cosmos‑782 Bion satellite (replica), made pre-1985 (MAAS Collection 97/2/5). Shown with selection models from casts of horse jaws made in Sydney pre-1902 (MAAS Collection E3414-7/1), and Porkhani, 2017, video by Javad Azimi and Hamid Hosseini, Powerhouse Museum. Image courtesy of the Biennale of Sydney, photo: Zan Wimberley

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,
ithout rattle in your throat, without a pulse.
Come down, draw your shape as two,
my shadow and the earth’s.


Detail of the Brent C model offshore oil rig, show lifeboat, details of cranes and other machinery on the platform in red, yellow and aqua colours.
This model shows in detail a Brent C model offshore oil rig and production platform used by Shell UK Exploration and Production Ltd, made in the 1970s (MAAS Collection B2451). It is made at a 1:1000 scale and was beautifully restored for the exhibition by Powerhouse Conservators. Powerhouse Museum, image courtesy of the Biennale of Sydney, photo: Zan Wimberley

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.

Exhibition view with an aluminium table in the foreground. Different ceramics are arranged on the table, which has hazard tape around its perimeter. In the background are ceramic bird feeders an antique wooden table and silk worm moth model.
Installation view showing in the foreground the Event Horizon table, designed by Marc Newson, 1991–92, manufactured by CZMIL for POD Edition, France, 1992 (MAAS Collection 93/340/1). Shown with a selection of ceramics from the MAAS collection from Australia, England, China, and Japan. Powerhouse Museum, image courtesy of the Biennale of Sydney, photo: Zan Wimberley

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.

Exhibition view showing a portion of a large-scale video projection in the background, depicting Turkmen healers performing a ritual. In front of the projection is a vitrine displaying a pair of tall boots.
Javad Azimi and Hamid Hosseini, Porkhani, video and sound, 3:42 min, 2017, shown with Inuit boots for a man, depilated sealskin, maker not recorded, Greenland, 1850–1900, MAAS collection H4448-1027. Photo: Katie Dyer

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.

Photo of a group of staff in the gallery space. The walls are painted fluoro yellow and a variety of Museum artefacts and a ladder can be seen in the background.
Last day of the installation with Ramin, Rokni and Hesam #RRH, Vanessa Thorne, Tim Morris, Julia McKay, Katie Dyer and Kate Ford. Powerhouse Museum, image: Kate Ford


Written by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, Katie Dyer

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