The Rain Doesn’t Know Friends From Foes: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

January 26 – April 28, 2019

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian work collectively to create installations, paintings on paper, and stop-motion animations that transform found materials in order to recast and critically examine contemporary history-in-the-making. The Dubai-based Iranian artists’ animations are composed from thousands of individual works on paper, in which they collage and paint over printed stills from internet videos and television newscasts. Detaching this imagery from its original context to estrange its meaning, their works interrogate the entertainment value of the news and the voyeuristic role of the spectator as a passive consumer of mass media spectacle.

The Rain Doesn’t Know Friends From Foes—their first exhibition on the West Coast—will include selected works on paper and a survey of their animations to date, including the US debut of From Sea to Dawn (2016–17) and Macht Schon (2016). Both videos intervene in the photojournalistic representation of migrants crossing into Europe, interjecting painterly patterns, fablelike animal imagery, and surreal mirroring effects. In From Sea to Dawn, these alterations serve to disrupt the Western moral codes (especially the sentimental, romanticizing pathos) embedded in the photographs, while in Macht Schon, they allegorize the actions of Hungarian journalists caught on video tripping fleeing migrants.

Also included are Big Rock Candy Mountain (2015), in which artifacts toppled by ISIS militants thwart their censors by mutating into fanciful mythic beasts; Letter! (2014), which amplifies the performative, media-induced hysteria of a protest by the radical activist group Femen; Reign of Winter (2012–13), a grotesque adaptation of the coverage of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding that underscores the arcane, densely coded nature of ceremonial spectacles; and Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (2010–11), in which media imagery from the 2009 Iranian demonstrations is transformed into a sordid pageant of monstrous animalistic humanoids. The latter was inspired by Bijan Mofid’s satirical musical play Shahr-e Qesseh, or City of Tales, which was written in 1968 as an allegory about the strictures of pre-Revolutionary Iran and adapted from traditional folk tales. Turning this tactic on the present moment, the artists’ videos and works on paper foreground the irrationality and violence that underlies our hypermediated reality and many societal conventions.

Ramin Haerizadeh (b. 1975, Tehran, Iran), Rokni Haerizadeh (b. 1978, Tehran, Iran) and Hesam Rahmanian (b. 1980, Knoxville, Tennessee) have lived and worked together in Dubai since 2009. They create work independently and together in a collective that constantly grows and contracts to incorporate friends, writers, and artists. Their installations build upon their perception of life as theater while also exposing their process. Generally, their proposals begin with the “creatures” the three artists become, physically and mentally, through their work. Placing emphasis on the importance of “reporting on our time,” they wish to bring attention to the urgencies of the present moment while opening up questions over a spectrum of subjects such as views on art and culture, gender fluidity, and power mechanisms. The collaborative has presented solo exhibitions at Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin (2018), MACBA, Barcelona (2017), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2015), and Kunsthalle Zurich (2015). A monograph of their work, entitled Ramin Haerizadeh Rokni Haerizadeh Hesam Rahmanian, was published by Mousse Publishing in 2015.

The Rain Doesn’t Know Friends From Foes: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by Amanda Donnan.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian. From Sea to Dawn (still), 2016. Single-channel video (rotoscopy, color, silent), 6:21 min. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde.

Rokni Haerizadeh. Reign of Winter (still), 2012–13. Single-channel video (color, silent); 8:42 min. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde.

Rokni Haerizadeh. Letter! (still), 2014. Single-channel video (color, silent); 6:32 min. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian. From Sea to Dawn (still), 2016. Single-channel video (rotoscopy, color, silent), 6:21 min. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian. Big Rock Candy Mountain (still), 2015. Single-channel video (rotoscopy, color, silent), 3:52 min. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde.