Diaspora Pavilion, Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina, Venice, 2017
Abbas Zahedi’s practice is influenced by his concept of neo-diaspora – as the predicament of being a second or third generation migrant. For the artist, this reality is no longer marked by the traditional understanding of diaspora, as a movement from the margins to the metropole; but instead, it is a process of survival within a complex and transitional state of belonging to multiple imaginal spaces.
His work critically reflects on the failings of multiculturalism, questioning methods of integration from cultural, rather than social or economic grounds. Through his work Zahedi is observing his position and formulating a mode of existence that will enable him to engage socially, whilst at the same time processing a multitude of traumatic events.
For the Diaspora Pavilion, Zahedi has produced MANNA (Machine Aided Neural Networking of Affect), a site-specific installation that interrogates the ways in which culture is consumed, shaped and appropriated in relation to technology and networking platforms. The acronym refers to a process of transformation, which he himself has undergone to cope with the affective outcomes of his predicament. Zahedi connects these ideas to the proliferation of artisanal food and drinks making, which he has adopted into his practice, as it links directly to the history of his family, who were ceremonial drinks makers in Iran.
In the space Zahedi presents a large scale print of a scene from his home in London. This features inherited and found objects that are reflected against intimate moments; correlating the privacy of domestic portraits with the hidden layers of algorithmic networks. A video loop captures fleeting memories of a figure sitting on his rooftop in Tehran as he faces a sculpture in the form of maternal memento; acquiescing the seeking of cultural heritage into new avenues of consumptive behaviour. These visual elements are paired with a sound work, in which we hear the artist manually bottling drinks – an inadvertent grieving ritual that he underwent for hundreds of hours, culminating in the production of the beverages that are housed in one of the large cabinets and also feature in his site-specific performance #FakeBooze.Source: International Curators Forum