INTERVIEW WITH ARMIN AMIRIAN
November 15, 2016 - Lisa Pollman
Please tell us about your early creative influences. Were they restricted only to photography?
First, we should see what the purpose and meaning of creativity is. Does creativity simply mean creating work or perhaps the use of different techniques and merging them? Maybe the nature of this word has another and unique concept and root? I don't know.
You are asking about a time past that I have to describe in the present and the now. I don't know if it was creativity back then or not! I can say that all the internal and external factors that exist as mental and spiritual receptions did have an impact on me and that my current work is a result of what is happening now, along with the help of current techniques. So, I suppose everything has had its effect on my current work today.
You grew up in the culturally rich city of Isfahan. Can you please tell us more about the city and how it’s rich history has had an impact on you and your artwork?
Yes. Isfahan is a city rich in culture, art and architecture. It has impacted upon me like it has many others. But in the heart of this culturally rich city, aspects of cruelty, discrimination and the desire for power are also visible. All over this architecturally rich city, you can search and find a cruelty and destruction. Next to a mosque with its unique and great architecture is a house with a destroyed roof and wall. A certain apathy surrounding the environment exists here.
You were previously a documentary photographer. What did you like best about this medium? What was the most challenging?
The society and the environment have made (and still do) a stage and scene for me. I choose a frame and an angle, then record and take it with the camera. At first when I got a camera, I practised like this for almost 6 months. If this means I'm a documentary photographer or not, I don't really know.
When and why did you decide to move away from being a documentary photographer and become more of a visual artist?
As I said, I don’t consider myself a documentary photographer but this change (ie what keeps me doing my work in the style and techniques that I am doing) is that within the depth of the picture, there are also to be found the depths of life, humanity, events, history and culture. I have included these aspects of human nature as well as using symbols and typology in the work.
My reason for choosing this is obvious and simple: the nature and depth of the story cannot be seen or said simply by facing society, looking at the people, the buildings. Unless you are a part of that thing, for example, you have not lived it and understand that the reason of poverty is not bad and poor economy, or not having a job... but is something else.
In an article found on the website Lomography, you stated that you often use the aspect of “carrying” in your work. Please explain.
A mother carries the child, then gives birth to him. We open our eyes. A worker carries weight. We turn our heads. A father carries on his shoulders. We walk and carry the bag of school books. We work and carry the stress and pressure on our shoulders. We carry our appearance and look. We talk about weight, pain.
Carrying is my feeling about this life that we, everybody in every corner of the world, are all doing and are involved with - from carrying the idea on our shoulders to even the day when there is no life left within our body and others should carry the coffin.
This image and the example of this idea symbolises us being in chains and involved and tangled. Having loads and not being free. Even though we want to be free. I don't say that I want to have the words of the free and freedom under the weight of different words and ideologies, even theosophy and philosophy of East, but I think it's a nice feeling to be free and unattached.
In the same piece, you mention you were considering directing and producing a short film. Please tell us more about this project.
The name of this film is The Product but unfortunately it hasn't been produced or made yet. I was thinking that it would happened much sooner but the present conditions have not made it possible.
In your biography, it states that your work is not a “documented, real-life scene”. Please explain. What is the process behind your work?
The time required to take and produce each photo is at least 72 hours of continuous work. When you look at my pictures, you may think that a professional producing team is beside me and under my control - similar to the projects all over the world in cinema and stage photography. But it's not like that for me.
Cinema and photography output is something that requires various people and processes. In addition, it requires its own team to produce the final work. But for me, my emotions, my look and view, my ideas and my mind are formed in my loneliness and being with my own self. Being by myself leads me to life's truth. I get away from the momentary situation and events and reach the truth more through my loneliness. This aspect of loneliness has been with me for years, and even sometimes has become the main factor for me not to work.
In your works “Analogy 1” and “Passive Role”, your subjects face away from the camera. What is the significance behind this?
These frames are like windows, in front of the picture, and a picture that is in front of an event or a scene.
How do you hope to merge your personal interpretations regarding contemporary social issues with Iran’s distant past and its present - is there indeed a meeting place between past and present for you?
Any factor that has caused the strengthening and progress of an event has the power and potential to destroy or ruin with the same amount and extent. History and identity are part of the reasons of and factors for human growth and development but without knowledge and understanding of the other part or aspect that is not the truth of the story, this same history and identity can be dragged to the edges, ruining thought, intellect and idealism.
Unless there is perception from different points of view and angles -phenomenology, typology and symbolism, aesthetics and understanding the picture's elements, visual communication does have value but lacks the important element of inducing true feelings.
Each of my images consists of light order and diffraction – with each light representing a feeling and each feeling, a concept and meaning. I merge techniques and feeling in my works, which then blossom into an "interpretation". Interpretation is a personal and powerful view, but through finding similar or dissimilar factors that have the same and similar phrases in an equation, and by showing this, it results in an emotion that forms the basis of thinking growth. Maybe if "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce" choosing its tragedy or comedy would depend on and be related to that society's dress and form. Here, the first similar factor and the first changing factor, and the first past and present connection are the nation / its people (society). My purpose and target is therefore the people.
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