Updated: Jan 20
Firouz Farman-Farmaian: Checking In
What are the issues and topics that most concern you at the moment that you are expressing through your art?
A burning sense of urgency, an quasi epidermic reaction to the ongoing antipodal radical worldwide tides, both materialist and-or religious, intuitively woke in me a need to express unitarian concepts, tools to help face the complexity of upcoming challenges. Robotisation of life, erosion of values (of education of the duty to memory) or multibillion new conquests such as meteorite mining and-or breakthrough science-forms such as terraforming or rewilding need to be attended. It is grand time to re-place contemporary artistic discourse as a nexus to positive change. I call it an ecology of the soul, paraphrasing Persian Philosopher Dariush Shayegan.
My last installation to date ‘Banners of the Unbannished’ (nominated to Jameel Prize 2020) is a monumental construct that emphasizes unity through the creation of imaginary tribal banners set in a sacred Sufi circle mirroring harmony.
How has your work been affected by the events of the last six months?
It evolved. Il faut etre absolument moderne as Arthur Rimbaud says.
My wife Camilla and I followed the general digital art migration along with our gallery-workshop-residency platform Nouvelle Vague Artspaces. We rapidly shut down our Marbella operation and went online with nouvellevaguerartspaces.com integrating virtual reality walkthroughs, video soundwalks and most importantly online viewing rooms following the art Basel OVR model. I developed cross border collabs with Janet Rady Fine Arts ( London ), Nava Contemporary ( NY - San Francisco ), Palais Aziza Marrakech and the Kebira Foundation ( San Francisco ) experimenting with VR + OVR online exhibits such as Lets Get Lost Let Them Send Out Alarms ( April to June 2020 with the New Form series produced under lockdown ) and more recently TRACES VR & Augmented launched at the occasion of Frieze London on October 9th 2020. It was followed by an art talk on Zoom moderated by Janet Rady covering cross-cultural and cross -format thematics with guests such as Rome based curator - art advisor Sveva Manfredi Zavaglia and German Luxury Hotelier Daniela Spoknik.
TRACES is an experimental multiformat animal curated by Camilla and I via our curatorial agency, We R The Nomads. It includes a physical show gracing the walls of Palais Aziza in the Marrakech Palmeraie, which we privately opened with a fabulous VIP diner thrown at the Palais on the occasion of the 1-54 Marrakesh Art Fair in February 2020. The show is built as a hybrid intro-retrospective conversation covering three central segments of my work: Memory, Post-tribal exploration and the presence of women in my work.
But as the world went into lockdown, we came to build its augmented digital VR edition alongside a video soundwalk - all available on the NVA website. Both physical and digital shows are ongoing through January 2021.
Subsequently we opened PATIOO Monoroom on September 17th 2020 in Sotogrande Spain - just off the Gibraltar rock - with an immersive installation by NY based Norwegian artist Anne Senstad. PATIOO is an experiential conceptual artspace: one artist one artwork. In that sense we are part of the post pandemic decentralisation dynamic.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment and what your inspiration was?
Have been concentrating on the future - towards the 2022 Venice Biennale and beyond - conceptualising, researching, studying and actively campaigning to fundraise for a vast series of exhibitions-installations that will follow the trail of ‘Permanence of Trace’ and ‘Memorandum of the Unknown Path’ critically widening the scope of my collaborative post-tribal exploration. Production will unfold through 2021. Alongside this central focus, I have set in march a certain number of conversations with innovative curators such as Sveva Manfredi Zavaglia in Rome and elsewhere around my wish to fully integrate VR and 3D Print into my practice. I believe that our approach and use of technology has to enter a virtuous creative phase circling back to nature: to walk hand in hand with our planet’s resources.
On another note also been dedicating extended creative space to FORRM, my sound + film platform. After the 1-54 African Art Fair first screening of the ‘Talkhimt Tadounit’ art-film / poem-track - created in the Moroccan Sahara as I sourced and produced the Marrakesh installation - I went on to produce ‘Strange Death of The Future’ designing the virtual soundscape for ‘Let’s Get Lost 2.0’ VR lockdown exhibition last spring.
With a text inspired by Dr Aaron Bastani’s controversial ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism’ manifesto, the work caught the attention of DC-based curator Layla Jadallah following a publication in Arab News in May and went on to figure in the Middle East Institute’s lockdown exhibit - it is ongoing through January both digitally and physically in Washington. Interest kept flowing, so from with the initial poem-track I developed two additive limited-edition cinematic art-films and an elaborate user’s manual written in collaboration with Lebanese poet-essayist Sophie Abou Chahine. An official release of the re-packaged FORRM project including a headset VR presentation is in development with Canadian curator and art advisor Sarah Rebecca Anne Belden and her blockchain powered digital art platform Unique Multiples. We are working on the idea of a physical plus virtual edition to be presented on the occasion of NADA NYC in 2021
How have your plans for 2020 and beyond been changed?
Had a super early start into 2020. Was fortunate with both ‘Memorandum of the Unknown Path’ at the Theatre Royal and TRACES at Palais Aziza Marrakech that both opened weeks before the lockdown. It later gave me mind space to operate the indispensable digital recalibration and look at the future with a deepened and refreshed outlook.
How do you think the world will change as a result of Covid-19?
Sincerely rejoiced seeing the upcoming US administration nominating John Kerry as their climate czar thus shifting central focus on next year’s Glasgow climate change conference. A lot can be done if the world acts in unison.
What are the lessons that need to be learned and behaviours that need to change as you reflect on our world at this time?
I consider being of the Tolstoyan school of determinists. The wheels of history transport us towards a general direction, that in my view has to be seen with a positive mindset. The industrial and post-industrial revolutions expanded our envelope to a point where our action as a species dangerously impacts our terrestrial holocene stability, what us humans call home. We must - and we can - awaken to the beauty and fragility of it all and connect.
Upcoming: Art Basel OVR Miami Beach Art talk
On the occasion of Art Basel OVR Miami Beach 2020 and as a follow-up to the Launch of Firouz FarmanFarmaian’s Traces VR and Augmented Exhibition originally presented via Nouvelle Vague Artspaces VR platform on Oct 9th 2020, the artist will invite Curator, Art Dealer and Friend Janet Rady on his Instagram profile @firouzfarmanfamaian to a live chat to present her Traces Artsy Selection and discuss past, ongoing and future multi platform projects on Friday December 4th 6pm GMT, 7 pm CET, 1:00 PM UTC.
Visit Janet Rady Fine Art Traces on Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/show/janet-rady-fine-art-traces-vr-and-augmented-solo-exhibit-firouz-farmanfarmaian
History and memory inform the work of Persian-born artist Firouz Farman-Farmaian, whose lifetime of living in exile in Paris, France profoundly influenced both his creative practice and individual character. "It is circumstance that ultimately shapes lives," says the artist, whose work seeks to actively engage in a dialogue with the past. As such, his compositions possess a vivacious and spontaneous energy, as well as a deeply symbolic quality, which speaks to a multiplicity of currents in politics, art and philosophy. Rooted in Persian lore, and focused on themes of nature, architectonics and the interplay between realism and abstraction, Farman Farmaian's diverse body of work is united by common motifs of movement and texture. The raw and visceral emotion of his pieces is tempered by their material properties, which are strongly rooted in a resolute emphasis on craftsmanship. Each work is the result of careful contemplation of the techniques and tools that will achieve a singular aesthetic and emotional intention. These in turn are deftly combined to create a unique visual rhythm across a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, film and music.
Lives and works in between Andalusia and Marrakech.
Instagram: @firouzfarmanfarmaian / @werthenomads / @nouvellevagueartspaces
Facebook: Firouz Farman-Farmaian / Nouvelle Vague Artspaces / We R The Nomads
The opinions and views expressed by artists are those of the artists, and do not necessarily purport to reflect the exact opinions or views of CARAVAN.