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Living Room is a video depicting a seemingly blank wall within a domestic environment. As the six-minute video progresses, it reveals marks left on the wall by furniture and pictures that have been removed from the room. The traces then slowly disappear, but then reappear as the video repeats. The work is installed as a one-room installation, in which the video projection fills one entire gallery wall. The looped video’s languid pace and silence encourage the viewer to contemplate the slowly changing imagery.
The work was borne out of an experience that Ansarinia had when she returned to Tehran in 2003 after studying in San Francisco. She was struck by the amount of air pollution in her home city. Two years later, when she helped her parents move house, she ‘was amazed to see how the space stripped of its furniture and occupants still carried a visible presence through the imprints of the furniture left on the walls as the result of exposure to many years of Tehran pollution. In another sense, the marks on the wall were no longer just marks but had become inseparable parts of the walls and carried the memory of a space once occupied and lived in.’ (Conversation with author, October 2009.)
Ansarinia made Living Room by taking a number of still photographs of the walls in her parent’s former home, which she later configured into a video. The recording of the marks of household dirt and of the city’s pollution can be seen as referring to not just the history of the artist’s own family but to the experiences of people living in Iran, which underwent many changes following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In this way the theme of Living Room - where changes made by the passage of time and pollution are witnessed in faint traces - can be seen as metaphoric. Ansarinia has said, ‘my work is always focused on the environment that I live in, portraying very ordinary, everyday life and my position within that context ... I’m a deconstructionist who reconstructs the torn apart elements that show something new about something so banal that has gone unnoticed. So repetitive that is becomes part of routine life.’ (Amirsadeghi 2009, p.74.)
Hossein Amirsadeghi (ed.), Different Sames: New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art, London 2009, p.74.
Hammad Nasar, ‘How Things Work: The Practice of Nazgol Ansarinia’, Tarjama/Translation: Contemporary art from the Middle East, Central Asia and their Diasporas, exhibition catalogue, Queens Museum of Art, New York 2009, pp.28–9.