Zahra Yazdani’s Solo

by Team ACF
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Bhavna Kakar
Zahra Yazdani’s Solo
Scripted Selves: Sutures of Signs and Symbols
Curated by Manan Shah
Preview: 24th January, 2024 | Wednesday
Timing: 6 – 9 PM
Exhibition Open till : 29th February, 2024 | Wednesday
Timings: Monday to Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Venue: Gallery LATITUDE 28, F – 208, F/F, Lado Sarai, New Delhi

Exhibition Text by Dilpreet Bhullar
The body permeable to human touch anchors its corporeal existence, not far to
implicit its emblematic value. The dichotomies – mortal/ divine,
essentialism/abstract, pure/profane and deceit /probity – scripted onto the body
make it a wealthy repository worth curiosity. Plato in the treatise ‘Forms’ sees man as
split into a mortal body and an eternal Soul. Later, René Descartes’ ‘Meditations on
First Philosophy’ reformulated this mysticism in the modern form – as a tension
between body and mind. Sifting through the pages of human history and human
nature, the triad – theologists, philosophers and cultural practitioners – have read
the body as an inquiry into signs of heightened morality, elevated aesthetic capacity
and linguistic sophistication. To embrace the body, as an epitome of nuanced
rawness and complexities is what the photographer Zahra Yazdani attempts in her
photography practice, which is rooted in the analogue world.
The finesse of skin and contortion, when combined, gesture at the political reality of
the body and Yazdani’s representation of its vulnerability and, paradoxically, its
inherent invincibility. To reach to this point, Yazdani transmutes private space into

Zahra Yajdani, The Black Room, Silver gelation
on fibre-based paper, 8 x 9.5 in, ed. 2

For queries contact: | | +91 11 46791111

an orchestrated setting. As the frozen frame transcends being just the episodic
recorder of a temporal existence, and underlines the event of a performative body, it
conflates the double worlds of reality and fiction. This reality is built on the
nomenclature of dominance: the body becomes as a site to showcase objectification;
while the fiction is founded on circuits of imagination, creating the body as an
embodiment of non-othering. Yet, for Yazdani, the art of continuing blurring does
not push it into the realm of concealment. The sutures visible across the lineage of
signs and symbols presented on the performative body bear the traces of scripts
imbricated on the scales of skin.
Akin to the subtle textures of linen, the body in the photographs seems to move and
sway, as though exercising its agency in the form of (un) folding, (dis) entangling and
(mis) appropriating. Invoking distorted points of view and utilizing grainy textures,
analogue photography, in the hands of Yazdani, serves as a metaphor to extend the
layers of the body. In other words, it is a method to destabilise the conventional idea
of a photograph as a truthful representation of a sliver of reality. The monochromatic
effect of the photograph, expounded by the hypnotic play of light and shadow,
undermines the political exigency that establishes a point of ontology vis-à-vis the
body. The immateriality of the body, in terms of the deft economy of imperceptibility,
is antithetical to the supremacist claims on material reality of the body.
The intimacy shared between the subject of photograph and camera eye does not
confine itself to relative oblivion of the private space. Private spaces, typically
shielded from the public eye, take on a new dimension when subjected to the lens of
‘staged authenticity’ (a term coined by Dean MacCannell). The photographer features
both as an observer and a director, orchestrating scenes that mimic reality but are
persistently constructed. The manipulation prompts contemplation about the
authenticity of emotions and actions within the private sphere, only to probe it as the
field of conformity and theatrics. The proximity of the private room is a witness to
the dynamic brilliance of an equal arrival and departure of the photographer in the
frame. Even with the non-discernable faces of the protagonist, the presence of
Yazdani overrides the inherent ambiguity of photography. The authorship
illuminates the tension-laden identity game of anonymity and confirmation. The
dependence and emancipation enacted on this playfield accentuate the role of the
photograph as a mirror and window. The reflection upon and overview of the
performance are attentive to our modes of perception and cognitive patterns.
Through photography, operating as a form of power, the photographer and the
subject are pushed to narrate a production of the knowledge systems about their
preferences and adherences. These enactments spearhead an alternative history,
which is another form of knowledge: one that counters what is seen as given and
accepted a history without contestation. If the crafting of these photographs lends a
visual language to the noise of the private room, then Yazdani’s art metamorphosis
them into a moment of self-revelation only to initiate a dialogue around politics of
scripts. The introspection fraught within the sutures of signs and symbols envisions a

For queries contact: | | +91 11 46791111

scope of solidarity and justice through the act of remembering. In the current times
determined by a constant urge for visual stimulation, the camera, as the observant
eye of Yazdani, addresses the streams of fragmented memory. The uniqueness of the
photographs rests with the desire of Yazdani to revisit the events of the body as a site
of history and injustice in a visual taxonomy that creates the journey of articulating a
constant struggle for resilience. Scripted Selves: Sutures of Signs and Symbols opens
the possibility of an avenue removed from the logic of systematic order to draw on
the agency of body in the face of past (in) actions and a contemporary effort to blur
the dichotomy of us versus them.

Curatorial Interjections and Intervention
Under the orchestrated settings of the private spaces, the photographic works by
Zahra Yazdani in the exhibition probes the human body through the effect of
distortion and layers. The asymmetry reimagines the points of location and
registration of the dominant scripts to let the human body have its agency. The
curatorial approach takes into account the scale of the photographs in order to cajole
the viewer to pause and ponder: remap the body as through the eye of an active
assimilator and associate. To break the monotony of the space, an eclectic visual
appeal anchored by the encases and organic drapes, accentuates a porous experience
to see the set of photographs in its entirety and individually. The curatorial approach
strategically attempts to divide the space through drapes – evoking a psychological
bifurcation or an in-between space – synonymous with the traces of lamina of a
body. Towards this end, the exhibition succinctly takes references from a book
produced by the artist. Yet is attentive to avoid a similar iteration through the

  • Manan Shah

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