Asymmetrical Authority & Historical Kaleidoscope stages photography against photography. Parham Taghioff’s photography challenges the apparent complacency of image-making with the conventional narrative of Iran’s history, questioning representational historiography itself by rendering visible the movement it captures. The images take up the photographic representation of paradigmatic political events and reproduce them with a twist. Folds, cuts, and patches of color mark images of the Revolution and the war with Iraq, for example. The marks challenge the viewers photographic familiarity of these events while reflexively staging the manipulation that is internal to photographic representation. The resulting images challenge the viewers’ access to history and questions the reified significance attributed to key events. They open a space for the viewer to follow the photographs’ self-conscious (re-)representation of the past as distorted and colorfully opaque, and as such susceptible to investigation and re-imagining. In its invitation to imaginative inquiry, Taghioff’s photography shifts the locus of image-making from the familiar to strange, from actuality to potentiality, and from representation to critique. Asymmetrical Authority & Historical Kaleidoscope registers the unfolding of an historical crisis of representation at a moment of its acute manifestation. Staging this crisis, it provokes an open-ended response.
Milad Odabaei, Ph.D.
Anthropology, McGill University, December 2019.