Photographs Afront | 2019

Mehrdad Afsari’s photographs are a tangled web of intricate relations and interconnections pertaining to the nature of the image, representation, and contemplating reality. Photography is a medium upon which he does not thoroughly rely to arrive at absolute truth. It is, rather, a mere tool to observe and raise questions, the answers of which go beyond the ability to represent and capture reality. He assumes a contrary position by challenging the very act of seeing and representation.

The works of “Photographs Afront” are all shot by a Polaroid instant camera, which means that the process of representation is done directly through the lens. Here, however, the agent, namely the photographer, has blocked the camera’s field of vision, interrupting the representation. The subject’s will has obstructed the representation, disrupting the mindless mechanism with his decision. Therefore, there remains neither the photograph as the object of reorientation nor the world as its subject matter. There is, in fact, nothing to see: it is up to the perceiver to decide, judge, and imagine if he or she is to find any answer concerning the nature of these works. The only clue that gives an orientation of sorts to our interpretation is the title written on the lower margin of each photograph.

Thus, Afsari develops and defines the image not in terms of the two dimensional surface of the photograph, but in the threefold relation of perceiver-image-world. He requires us to see the images subjectively. Yet, he seems to be reconsidering the notion of image, representation, and observations, and also reviewing and concluding the achievements in a twenty-year period of his artistic practice. Everything is either dark or bright and relatively flat. The artist appears to be rethinking the threefold relation, throwing this structure into disarray, while the perceiver maintains his position. What is in front of him, however, is no longer “image/world,” but “non-image/non-world.”