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Right of Return

    

Right of Return

Sanaz Sohrabi | Caroline So Jung Lee | Mona Kasra | Peng Zuqiang 


April 10 to May 8, 2021 online at deluge.ca
Deluge Contemporary Art
636 Yates Street, Victoria BC

Right of Return is an online exhibition of media works by four international artists exploring revolutionary politics, diasporic knowledge and the intersection of collective memory vs. archival evidence. 

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Sanaz Sohrabi uses Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and an anonymous photo taken at the Refah School in Tehran from which to consider the myriad meanings of the Persian word “temsaal.” Notes on Seeing Double incisively dismantles and reconnects these two images to consider the friable truth of representation. In 1632 Amsterdam, anatomy theatres were a form of entertainment for those who could afford it. These public dissections gained cachet the sooner they were scheduled after the state executions which provided corpses. In February 1979 in Tehran, an unknown photographer captures a thronging post-revolutionary crowd gathered to greet Ayatollah Khomeini at one of his weekly meetings. This photograph, enlarged to its limits, reveals “otherwise unnoticeable fragments, shadows, cropped objects and figures, characters who remain untouched or indiscernible. An image whose ghostly fragments and visual residues continue to linger.” Equating this to a sort of dissection, an opening up, Sohrabi asks how we can “see these factual documents of a series of historical events otherwise, outside their original frame of reference?” 

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Caroline So Jung Lee documents a return to Korea in search of the intergenerational origin stories of the country’s nascent feminism. An interlocutor speaks of the ascending hopes for the “alpha girls” of the 80s and 90s. Raised with a belief in their own agency and a more equitable world but impeded by the seemingly inexorable forces of patriarchy and a newly fractious economy, this new generation were “expecting a world that was ready for them, but it was not.” Unsettling time, At the Bottom of the Sea shifts backwards and forwards, between the unrelenting movement of Korea’s cities, the implacable forces of nature and the furious chants of the Gwanghwamun protestors unwilling to cede their futures to the past. 16mm film grain, hand-processing and solarization both abstract and personalize these individual narratives. 

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Twenty years after her departure, Mona Kasra seeks to recapture a memory of her former home in Tehran through satellite images, aerial and 360° photography. Inbetweenness confronts this lack of resolution, as Kasra’s search for conclusive evidence is frustrated, truth crumbling under data and time. Left to the unreliability of locative efforts, Kasra must reimagine the place she knew through the simulacra available and her own senses. “I look for traces of home everywhere. Sometimes I find it in a bowl of Persian rice. Sometimes in the loud thunder reminding me of missile attacks during the war between Iran and Iraq. Sometimes I find home on the streets of Los Angeles. It all depends…I can’t get close.”

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Inauguration exposes the capricious nature of oral family narratives and official records to deconstruct the compelling and unreliable story of a failed assassination that was either the work of a solitary individual or at the behest of a revolutionary organization. The “facts” say would-be assassin George Fong, who worked as a cook in Berkeley, bought a revolver and taught himself to shoot in order to dispatch visiting Prince Zaixun and help free China of Manchurian rule. Born in the USA and radicalized by the Young China Association, Fong either choked at the crucial moment—fearing he would injure bystanders in the crowd assembled to greet Zaixun—or was apprehended by a detective from the Chinatown police tipped off to the plot. Foreshadowing the 1910 event, visuals tells the story of two Chinese-Cuban activists’ attempt to attend the inauguration of the Young China Association in San Francisco a year earlier. Ultimately, Fong’s fate remains as much of a mystery as the definitive truth in Peng’s decoding of historical facts and fictions.


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