Chapter Five (last chapter):Devine Intervention (2014)
Statement of the catalogue:
Divine Intervention like the other chapters of the Verisimilitudes Project is a sort of confrontation with Iranian history and deliberation on the meaning of identity. This time, however, it happens by motifs carrying for their part burden of our religious beliefs. An arrangement of intermediary elements that are the fruits of historical and aesthetically experiences of our ancestors in understanding the Holy Cause and an indicator of their metaphysical demand.
The archetypes that even today live before us and share an inevitable part of our live.
The icons of Divine Intervention are all constructed like the nature of the photos, although each one of them is subject to its specific historical narration. These narrations have come out of the religious rites and rituals observed in every corner of this land. In this sense, the imagination of the artist is always interconnected with bygone memories, so deep and far that sometimes it is very difficult to discern through them the distance between truth and untruth, original and unoriginal, belief and disbelief, faith and blasphemy. If we manage to pass through this narrow gap, we will surely feel the need of the modern-day man to a miracle more than any other time.
The Verisimilitudes Project comes to an end with the pictures of this chapter. In the past decade I have never confined myself to a linear path. Renowned film editor Graham Lee believed that everything starts in the middle. I think we can generalize this notion to the end of the stories.
The past that has not passed
Mohammad Parvizi Interview Mehdi Moghimnejad
Parvizi: For me, interview with an author is not merely a quest or a temptation for decoding the signs and symbols in a work of art. Rather, in its most desirable form it is a question and answer attempt for exploring reasoning behind experiences. I would like to know why you have called this chapter Divine Intervention.
Moghimnejad: First of all, I would like to say that the most influential way for understanding my works is this that they are articulated and within the context of the project. The entirety of Verisimilitudes project can be taken as a sort of confrontation with the history. In this sense, if we neglect the first chapters– that despite common themes they do not follow a single subject matter – in the rest of the collection I have pictured the history of this land with its rich motifs. These elements are sometimes cypress trees, some other times signs of architecture and miniature belonging to various periods of history. In Divine Intervention we have religious and ritual signs and symbols. I name it Divine Intervention because I believe that the elements of this collection are all intermediary elements that define religious deed of human being and his/her resorting to the Divine power and the Holy Cause.
Parvizi: Working on identity is your major concern in the collection of works you have displayed so far. The works suggest that you pay more attention to collective identity than individual identity. Is that right?
Moghimnejad: I agree with you. To be precise, I should say that although collective and individual identities are interrelated in practice, I would like to see this relationship from the whole to the part from a structuralist point of view.This may be somehow in contradiction with postmodern philosophy that according to Gilles Deleuze each human being is a subculture himself. But I am of the opinion that history is prior to us. We must not forget the fact that one of us inherits the traditions of our ancestors, most important of which being language, at birth. Add to this the culture we grow in. Therefore, putting apart our personal dispositions, we should know that our individual identity cannot be apart from our collective identity. Perhaps individual identity wants to keep itself apart from collective identity intentionally – realization of which shall be a matter of much discourse – but cannot neglect it. Yes, I do believe in collective identity and historical memory strongly but this never ever considers past as a deterrent, passive, dogmatic or fatalistic factor.
Parvizi: It seems to me you are challenging with a sort of nostalgic feeling toward history in the first period of your works. In the Cypress Tree line chapter your interpretation of history is poetic: pictures are poetical. Perhaps due to the “Cypress Tree” element the aesthetical aspect is stronger than the critical aspect. To this point, I believe your narration of history and historical identity is linear. It happens to me that your next chapter – Found History – deals with history in its worthy concept. Found History displays various layers and makes the viewer remember his past. Photos are instances of historical memory. But in Divine Intervention the viewer is not merely taken to the past, rather he/she is helped to watch it. Although the elements carry their historical load, they are terrifying. In other words, they are both intermediary and terrifying. Here, the history in which we live is seen as a myth. How intentional is this distancing effect in observing history?
Moghimnejad: I definitely approve that in the heart of Verisimilitudes project there is a shift from nostalgic view toward the world to a distancing effect. In Divine Intervention, this distancing effect has found a broader conceptual experience. In the course of making these photos, I saw myself
boosting the magical aspects of these icons and I believe it is where the magical aspect of this narration shows face, where the elements manifest their hidden energy through their ritual functioning. Perhaps it is one of the most obvious ways for understanding the truth about myths. If we accept such a mythical function, we must remember that myths always carry an inherent reality and seek a media for manifesting themselves. Here, religious elements guide us toward metaphysical areas as intermediary elements through imagination and illusion.
Parvizi: It is difficult to work with historical elements, signs and symbols in a land where history is put on sale or lampooned. Where do you divide your path from them?
Moghimnejad: I divide my path exactly from where the power of imagination gets to work. In this chapter, I have tried to bring my imagination into conformity with history. Perhaps it is interesting to know that every single frame of these photos has a historical tradition narrated from generation to generation orally. Therefore, personally I believe that I have acted sincerely in recreation of spaces. It is a very difficult task indeed, but not for someone whose approach is nothing other than this, and everything happens naturally in his works.
Parvizi: The domain of your works is “past”, but not in the sense of time spent, rather, the sort of past that has not passed. Why do you insist on taking the audience to the roots or to the past periods again?
Moghimnejad: I have a quotation in my mind that says past is more surprising than the future. This is my outlook of the world. I see all phenomena, and most important of all the human being, in a historical arena. For instance, I would like to say I am 3037 years old instead of revealing my calendar year. I want to meet historicity of existence via the history of the life of human being. This will be prevalent from now on in my works and perhaps to the end of my life. It seems to me that this way, human and the existence around him/her will appear to be more meaningful issues.