Let Us Believe In The Beginning Of The Cold Season

My series “Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season” consists of life-size photo prints of a diverse group of women. Starting with photographic prints, I paint, collage, and sew onto portraits of women, responding to the textures of their clothing and faces with paint, thread, and real human hair.  I explore the symbolism of pattern, drawing parallels between ubiquitous American plaid and Iranian weaving, textile, and text. Working with human hair helped me to connect with their reality because hair is something we see in everyday life. After all, it is just a mundane part of the human body.  My approach to human hair in this work is very different. Human hair is usually appreciated on human heads, when detached from the human body, it evokes disgust. I made patterns with hair by sewing on top of the portraits to make the usual disgusting unattached hair as something beautiful. Working with different types of hair also connected me with a diverse group of people. Hair is the common thread in this series of work but not the only one. In some of the works I use other elements to cover faces. So covering or veiling is a key concept I am working with.

Much of my previous work has served as a critique of the enforced veiling of women that I grew up within Iran – many times through different expressions of the naked female body. Through nuanced details of visual culture, I examine how power structures can be read in the choices, habits, and tastes of individuals. Women’s faces and bodies are my primary subject, and I work with clothing, hair, patterns, and veils to extend and explore the expected boundaries of self-presentation. By selectively hiding and revealing parts of the face and body, I examine how culture shapes the ways we dress, talk, hold ourselves, highlighting the subtleties of self-expression, and self-policing between cultures.

This collection has been shown at Mom gallery in Austin, Texas in 2015, Asian American Resource Center 2016, SECAC member exhibition in Pittsburg in 2015, People Gallery at Austin City Hall in 2016, Viridian Artists Gallery in NYC in 2017, Irving Arts Center “6th Annual Juried International Exhibition of Contemporary Islamic Art” in Texas in 2017, and Barrister's Gallery on 2019 in  New Orleans, Louisiana. 

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©2020 by Sara Madandar