Desire No Shackles
Diane Carriere, our artist/blogger friend in Canada, and fellow artists are presenting a new show in Chicago at the d'Last Studios and Gallery at 1714 S Ashland, Chicago, Oct 7 - Nov 11, 2006. The show, entitled "Desire No Shackels", features the work of Amir Normandi, Maryam Hashemi, Marcia Middleton Kaplan, Tim Arroyo, Rosy Torres, and Diane.Diane has focused her work in the last few years on the conflict between the forces of fascism and Islamic fundamentalism, and the strong desires for Freedom and Liberty. Of particular interest has been the plight of women and children, the bringers of life and the most vulnerable.The current show has been planned for many months, but recent censorship events have placed an additional importance on the work of the assembled artists. As Diane has written:
Even in the Age of Information, it would seem that not all information is created equal: the closure of a successful 3-year-old production of Mozart's opera 'Idomeneo' because, said Berlin police, it posed 'incalculable risk' of inciting Islamic fundamentalists to violence is a stark reminder that censorship throbs with power while the lifeblood of art is wrung dry. Last year, outrage from Muslim students led Harper College, located just outside Chicago, to remove an exhibition of works by Amir Normandi depicting the oppression women suffer in many Islamic countries. Partly in response, Normandi, himself an Iranian-born Muslim, has curated a new exhibition of works by local and international artists, 'Desire No Shackles/ Imagine No Borders', to examine oppression and the notion of borders in Islam and other contexts.The work of Amir Normandi, an Iranian, is often none too subtle. The images are forthright and unapologetically confrontational. One cannot ignore the crossing of boundaries as in "Women's Rights by the Book". The woman holds a book, presumably the Qur'an. The holy book of Islam gives permission to men to break the barrier of human decency by beating their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers, treating them as meer objects. The woman in the image crosses the boundary between being the object on display and being a real human being by reaching out through the picture frame.In another, we are shown what lies beneath the all concealing black shroud of the burqa that holds women in a portable prison. The same rigid religious ideas that keep women in thrall to the will of men also envelopes the entire state of Iran, Islam, and all who submit their freewill to the god, al'Lah. No matter what is used to hide, shield, cover, or mystify our outter selves cannot even begin to shackle what is inside, the glory that is our 'self'.In "Rose", Tim Arroyo demonstrates the ephemeral quality of reality and life. He has created a beautiful red rose in a vase using smoke and digital photography. The image slowly wafts into oblivion as all matter must, reabsorbed into the greater connectivity of the cosmos.Diane presents a stark fact of life of life under fascist Islam. The execution of women is a common occurrance in Iran. Tradgically, it is too often the only way a woman can escape the prison of the burqa and the shackles of Islam as depicted here in another masterwork. Seemly two women have been hanged - one clothed in a burqa with eyes blindfolded, the other naked with eyes closed, but unblinded. Are they really different women, or the same woman - one a body in death, and the other as the freed spirit. As with all of Diane's work, the layers can be peeled like an onion revealing far more than is evident at first glance.I would encourge anyone in the Chicago area to stop into d'Last Studios and Gallery, 1714 S. Ashland Avenue, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., Phone: 312/922-1400.