The exhibition gathers photographs from two series, Water & Persian Rugs and Knot, each composed of 12 photographs staging a traditional Persian rug, a pretext for creating extraordinary situations and establishing links between History and contemporaneity. This motive, which stakes the Arabian Nights, is deeply related in our collective consciousness to what we are used to call ?The Orient?, a completely Occidental concept.
Beyond this phantasmagoric reappropriation of the rug, this one has indeed an important place in Persian culture, as a matter of fact the art of knotting comes from a millenary tradition closely linked to the art of gardening called ?Pardis?. This word in pahlavi designates a closed garden, and comes from the Mede ?Pairi-daeza?. This is how flourished, during the Sixth Century, the art of garden-rugs decorated with floral and geometric motives, representing paradise and referring to Persian mythology and literature.
Jalal Sepehr, attracted by the Persian rugs? esthetic and historical value as objects representing Iranian culture, uses this motive to create surprising scenes where humor takes an important place. Each photograph is meticulously conceived by the artist to the finest details such as the setting, costumes or even in the choice of the ?actors?: loved ones, friends, artists who are given precise scenic indications. This staging which is present in every photograph goes hand in hand with a certain narrativity, for example in this piece from the Knot series where we can see on the roof of a house a group of men and women of different ages rolling rugs, like a ritual we cannot understand. Another photograph presents a man sitting crossed-legged in front of a pile of rugs, unfolding them like the pages of a book telling the story of his life.
These two series are raising the question of confrontation, and of course of what links tradition and contemporariness, such as this photograph from the Water and Persian Rugs series where a man in a suit, turning his back on the viewers and facing the sea, is sitting on the edge of a shore covered in Persian rugs. The man could be interpreted as a direct reference to our era, while this ally of rugs, preceding but also following him, evokes a perpetuating tradition.
In a world which sees its myths and markers disappear, it is fascinating to see in Jalal Sepher?s photographs a fixing point: the rug and its numerous functions, the one you trample with your footsteps every day, whether it is covering the room floor, or used as a decorative element, used for prayers, or even a frame for ancestral motives, it is to Jalal Sepehr a ?knotting place? where History, poetry, literature and humor are conversing.
?Most of photos contain a mixture of tradition and modernity features that create kind of conflict and contrast that exist in daily life of people not only in Iranian society but also in some Middle Eastern countries. These are the main challenge that I face in my previous projects and also in my new series that I am working on recently. The frame shows a man seating in a pier covered by rugs; in my opinion it represents the border between modernity and traditional world. I think this photograph reflect the term of ?Overseas?.
- Jalal Sepehr, 2015.