Flag #19 "Memories Without Recollection"
Mixed media textile
203.2 x 116.8 cm
Sara Rahbar was born in Tehran, yet was forced to leave with her family during the period of immense upheaval that followed the revolution in Iran and the start of the Iran-Iraq war. This distance, this proximity is developed by the artist, based on memory, longing and inertia in inhabiting tensions of dual disjuncture. Rahbar studied in London and New York, and now spends most of her productive life between Tehran and New York. In this going back and forth, an apocalyptic memory has been revised in her reworking of traditional materials into proto-contemporary textiles and textures of national belonging. The symbol of ideological and nationalistic violence, the Flag, has been one of the main focuses of her collage conversations and contestations.
In one of her recent statements, she states, “Our foundations lay, but our houses have burned to the ground. Building castles in the sky, for a species that cannot fly, brick by limb we tear it down. Thinking that we are moving forwards, yet moving backwards all along. Gajar woman and golden toys, we wait for dawn.” Even within this contemporary evocation, across borders and palpitating with barbarism, her constant vigilance regarding the fallen past and an unrealized future remain the means of her economic reality and her imagination. The global neighbourhood, she inhabits, where disenfranchisement through plight and flight are becoming important, offer fragments by which we understand the configurations of the US version of free trade and democracy.
Text By, Shaheen Merali