Showing at Johannes Vogt Gallery through February 17th, Aphrodite Désirée Navab’s “The Homeling” occupies a paradoxical space where seemingly all-too-familiar works—body prints recalling Jasper John’s 1962 Skin situated across from a series of Parisian-inspired automatic drawings—gently guide the viewer to reflect on the prospect of a violently depersonalized world.
The show’s title derives from a series of performative imprints. Partially responding to the social restrictions imposed on Iranian women, The Homeling involves wetting a chador with ink; wearing this ink-stained chador, the artist then uses her body to make impressions on paper.
On the opposite wall, Persian Abstraction continues the theme of embodiment. Drawn with ink and water on paper, the artist used one of the more trance-like methods of the surrealists (automatic drawing) to body forth abstractions which often resolve into organic shapes.
A tone of protest creeps in at the margins of these works. Concealing herself in a chador, allowing the sheer materiality of black ink in water to generate a series of involuntary forms—Navab has seemingly adopted methods of depersonalization to express the violent repression of feminine identity.
Nevertheless, the ubiquitous use of ink-based abstraction (a material stemming from Navab’s engagement with printmaking) bears traces of feminine identity only indirectly. While it could be argued that this reflects Iranian women’s ongoing conflict with avoiding display, the predominance of black and gray signals mournfulness before powers that would deny femininity any particular character. This belies those impressions which have a more animalistic energy, gracefully invoking an irrepressible presence.
APHRODITE DÉSIRÉE NEVAB “THE HOMELING” AT JOHANNESS VOGT
JANUARY 11 – FEBRUARY 17, 2018
55 CHRYSTIE STREET, SUITE 202
NEW YORK, NY 10002
The artist also wanted to talk about her large body monoprints which are the lipstick marks left behind from her twirling on the paper:
When I visited my relatives in Iran in 2001, my cousins told me that the “hejab police/veil police” used to put razor blades in tissues that they handed to women wearing lipstick and demanded that they wipe it off. Many women bled and were scarred by this brutal method. Ever since then I wore lipstick as a political gesture in my own life and in my performance-based art.
–Aphrodite Désirée Navab