Intersections: The Artists and their Work
An inter-faith artistic collaboration involving three women artists - Irene Barberis, Parastou Forouhar and Jane Logeman - each from a different faith, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
-In the year 2000, Irene Barberis came to me at the Jewish Museum of Australia with the idea for a cross-cultural exhibition, seeking two other mature women artists from different cultural and religious backgrounds who would, together with her, celebrate their different cultural origins through their art and through the use of texting their art.
-The summary of my work in the show, I really am interested in language as abstraction, as a kind of mantra. A kind of repetition where you can see a pattern, where you can actually experience something visual first before you understand it as a word, a real word. I also want you to, or I would like the viewer to experience the colors that I use in relationship to the words. In other words, in the show there is a word "hibiscus" in Hebrew, and I've repeated the word over and over again and I want the viewer to have the experience of remembering or relating the color of the flower.
The creative process behind my work has been a duration of 40 years. And I started working in language, specifically in Hebrew, in the early, mid-80s, and it evolved into other languages. In this show, I'm presenting a group of work in different languages as well as the plagues in Hebrew.
My first experience with working in Hebrew was when my son was developing the process of getting bar mitzvahed. I wanted to present him with a book. Because I was very interested in his repetition and his chanting, and that in line goes with my work. I do a lot of repetition with simple forms, simple structures.
So I presented a book of the alphabet to him along with some of my abstract linear structures, and that sort of set off a development in Hebrew for me. I was interested in the letters. I was interested in words.
Now the relationship between my work and the other two artists in the show is that we reflect our differences. We blend and reflect. And I think what's interesting here is that this is an open forum for, perhaps, even contradictions and dialogue.
-These words are transparent, and they have an ethereal look. The transparency when a light shines through it creates a very interesting shape on the wall. So if you look at this place, you'll find that the words are able to be read if you can, in fact, define where the beginning and the ending of a word is.
A little like Carolingian script, where in those days they had no spaces between letters. And as I was writing, I was aware of this. So I would be writing and then joining the words up, so really it's like one great, big, long word.
Breath, breath, breath is about life. Breath is common to all mankind. Without breath, we don't exist in actual fact.
I like the idea in the scripture especially, because all my work, the source is originally from biblical texts. And then I take them and then I remake them and place them in a much more contemporary context, and the ideas that are held in this. Scripture contains first breaths and last breaths-- they're very important.
So I take the artist's breath, and the artist as I see is like a transistor. An artist transists ideas-- they take ideas, they develop them and then they put them back into the community. So breath being an integral part of humankind becomes an integral idea in humankind. And I like the depth, I guess you would say, of the idea of breath, and of using my breath to blow up my inflatables.
-I come originally from Iran. Since 1991, I've been living in Germany, in Frankfurt. The works that I have done for this exhibition, one is the written carpet. That is the Farsi, that's the language of Iran. Calligraphy on the floor coming up to the walls of the exhibition in combination with the small, ping pong balls all written which are all over the floor. And another big work that's some kind of a big zag called "Safari."
Living in Germany, I got used to the German language and it became my language of everyday communication with the other people. So my own language became with the time just as a memory-- something that you know it is here in your mind, but not the way to communicate with the people. So it became more and more like ornament, like a pattern-- beautiful pattern that you have with you but you don't use it as a functional idea. At the beginning, it was just communicating. So I think this work is based on that idea of living in a foreign language and thinking about your mother tongue in a distance to it.
As I said, I come from Iran. And as I started to study art, it was just a few years after the revolution in Iran. It was a very tough time. And the influence of religion became more and more into society.
So not as I was living in Iran, but leaving after my studies to Germany, I started thinking more and more about my background and started working with the elements of my cultural background as religious texts, as the visual elements which are connected to the religious background of my culture.
And you know, for example, the work "Safari" that I'm showing in this exhibition, it is made of traditional fabrics. Some of them are religious fabrics that people use during the religious ceremonies to put on the walls to signalize that something richer is happening in this room. So you know that is very interesting that with-- during the time that I had, a physical distance to this all elements, visual elements, I started using them more and more in my work.