As Sir Cropia enters into his seventh decade, he oscillates between manic aspirations for a diminishing future and melancholic reflections on a vexed and variable past. Consequently, the moving images that constitute Installment VII, visible through apertures that are at once windows and eyes, form a compelling analogue for Sir Cropia’s own psychological state. Placing the spectator in Sir Cropia’s restless shoes, the spectator does see, but only at the mercy of Sir Cropia’s mind’s eye. Thus, just as a tension exists within Sir Cropia’s self-assessment, so for the spectator a comparable tension develops between his/her point of view and that of our nefarious protagonist. As such, the romance of travel by train, as suggested by the parade of level images on the windows’ far side, quickly gives way to the realization that one has been kidnapped — perhaps by Sir Cropia’s own hand.
Issues of isolation and self-imposed exile are investigated in this video. Violent gestures are juxtaposed with references to domesticity and icons of “civilization” such as high-rise buildings.
Investigation of traditional and contemporary obligations and expectations of a first generation American is the central focus of this video. The main character reflects upon the compromises essential to assimilating to another culture, which often prohibit the realization of traditional practices.
Though grounded in the aesthetics and culture of ancient Persia, this video is best understood as an abstract meditation on the concepts of loss and longing. Centered on the repetitive, even compulsive behavior of a single, unidentified figure as she continuously rakes the sand with her fingers, Raheleh suggests the need of this kind of memorializing ritual, while at the same time pointing toward the inadequacy of any such gesture.
Though many scientists and cultural theorists have come to critique the association of science with progress and depoliticized objectivity, scientific discourse and research nevertheless retain many of the privileges connected with these ideas. My own research, often modeled on and about the very idea of scientific research, assumes this privilege precisely for the purpose of calling it into question, even as I use it in order to articulate a set of ideas which require precisely this kind of protection from both political and religious intolerance. My relationship to these issues is necessarily complex, and is still more so now given a political climate in which certain views are increasingly suspect. Indeed, we live in an era in which some speech is increasingly censored – often with the most extreme consequences for the speaker, and as such my own work is of necessity as veiled as it is explicit, as personal as it is political and as critical as it is tolerant. In short, it has been the challenge of my work over time that it develop a language complex enough to accommodate my own highly complex relation to this contemporary tangle of science, politics and theology.
Laleh Mehran – Denver Colorado