Abbas Zahedi (b. 1984, London) constructs multifaceted situations that explore the imaginal basis of contemporary reality. Often taking his own life as a performative point of departure; his proposal of neo-diaspora for the Diaspora Pavilion in Venice (2017) sought to disrupt notions of origin and settled identities.
Zahedi’s use of digital and digestible objects, such as images, lemons, green-screens, beverages and bread, reflects critically on representation, as a precursor to subject subjugation. This serves as a way to question social and geographical relationships and how technology functions to normalise western modes of representational logic.
His current research imagines the body as a live archive, synthesised from environmental intensities that play with bits of matter and bits of data until they achieve something that coheres and becomes meaningful (informative). In doing so, he seeks to constantly enmesh and engage visual, aesthetic, linguistic and poetic objects with biological, ethical and economic ones.
This investigation inhabits a metaphorical space, in which individual bodies echo and resonate with the broader socio-political and historical contexts that are constantly (re)producing them. With this approach, Zahedi seeks to collapse essentialised tropes and binary divides with the willingness of impatient necessity, derived from utilising Technologies of Otherness.
Zahedi is currently studying an MA in Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.
"Conceptual Survivalism is a meta-mode of being,
seeking to (re)configure The Order of Things,
as *things* that need doing."
The evolution towards a framework of neo-diaspora is an effort to process and de-historicise my experiences of digestion, death and displacement. Taking place alongside installations, performances and images, highlighting Technologies of Otherness amidst hyper-connected realities. This method has developed its own poignancy in light of recent social and informatic shifts. Thus my phrasing follows on from this; expressing that I can no longer relate to notions of (geo)diaspora in the traditional sense - as a movement about margins and metropoles. But instead, it now confers an entanglement of survival, within a complex and transitional state of belonging to multiple imaginal spaces. My earlier practice of stone-carving, geometric drawing and calligraphic sketches, emerged out of a desire to learn the cultural syntax of my iranian and islamic heritage. It then became a process of crafting shapes, which I could photograph and use to explore the poetics of my own writing and performance. In experiencing this transition - towards-and-away-from an order of forms - I realised that my draw to the past was the result of a very present preoccupation with identity, expressed as maternal DNA activation. This rendered my curiosity towards establishing embodied processes, which could inhabit latent potential and bypass my scientific training. A shift that enabled access to contemporary notions of art, philosophy and poetics; forming the basis of a neuro-diverse approach to research. It was at this stage that I realised many neo-diasporic psyches do not inherit the Kantian leap - a pre-requisite to modern practice. So I had to endure the trauma of the abyss, plus ongoing negotiations with ancestral trajectories. A good deal of my current work seeks to expand my understanding of world beyond representational frames, via imaginal re-programmings of islamic and avestan cosmologies. Opening up space for a discourse of intuition, on dissolution and performative subjectivity. My desire to go beyond the image, moves me to render language as a solvent for significance. The resulting pursuit enters at the limits of hyper-fluid consciousness - a critical juncture where one diasporic phase morphs into another. This paves the way to orientate myself without the need for a sense of Self. Whilst still allowing for the embrace of meta-signifiers, which are fully immersed, intimate and free to move in multiple simultaneous directions.