Against the Sun: The photographs of Tahereh Fallahzadeh and the exhibition architecture of Fia Backström

Tahereh Fallahzadeh and Fia Backström
Curated by Hadi Fallahpisheh and Phoebe d’Heurle

Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | 6-8pm
Exhibition dates:
June 5 – July 6, 2019

Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York is pleased to present Against the Sun: The Photographs of Tahereh Fallahzadeh and the exhibition architecture of Fia Backström, curated by Phoebe d’Heurle and Hadi Fallahpisheh, on view from June 5 until July 6, 2019.

This show unites two photographic processes, the work of Tahereh Fallahzadeh and Fia Backström. As one of the few female photographers to pursue unorthodox and experimental photography as a mode of fine art while working in an academic context in Iran, Tahereh Fallahzadeh’s work asserts a politics and an emotional resonance unique to the history of photography.  Fallahzadeh’s mostly small scale traditional darkroom photographs combine elements of collage, photograms, and chemical marks through intuitive processes in a distinct manner that feels as much rooted in the history of photography as it is in a contemporary discourse. Fia Backström’s work encompasses a diverse range of mediums including photography, writing, installation and performance through which she agitates the social life of language and materials.  Her work oscillates between different discourses relating politics, authorship and the capacity of images to generate meaning.  Backström’s work has often included unconventional exhibition designs, performative work, and frequently exists through collaboration or the incorporation of others directly into her own work.   

The exhibition Against the Sun utilizes Fia Backström’s exhibition architecture, the Flexible Image Arrangement System, as the primary method for how the show displays the work of Tahereh Fallahzadeh.  Backström’s unique structure suggests a way for photographic work to be taken off of the walls and thus fundamentally shifts a traditional viewing experience.  The F.I.A. System consists of steel structures that stand independently within the gallery space with up to five metal arms constructed specifically to hold framed two-dimensional work. The stands can exist independently or can be connected together to form complex constellations within a gallery space; physically destabilizing a historically standard photographic exhibition.  In this show, framed photographs that span the last twenty-five years of Fallahzadeh’s photographic work hang from Backström’s exhibition structure. Fallahzadeh’s unique silver gelatin darkroom prints range in size and technique and grapple with the everyday contradictions of womanhood and daily life.  For this exhibition, Fallahzadeh has paired each black and white print with a selection of fabrics from her everyday life.  Fallahzadeh’s decision to incorporate vibrant colorful fabrics with her photographs on the occasion of this show animates both her imagery and the visual effect of Backström’s display architecture.  In the context of Fia Backström’s work, which has challenged artistic conventions over the past three decades of her career, Fallahzadeh’s work further complicates and unsettles the way we look at photographs.

Tahereh Fallahzadeh (b.1968, Iran) is an artist based in Tehran who, while working within different modes of photography, has constructed a deep relation to ways of representing, reflecting, and expressing selfhood. She has taught photography in art institutes for over 20 years, and has had various group shows in Iran.

Fia Backström (b. 1970, Sweden) is an artist based in New York. Working in diverse mediums including photography, writing, installation, and performance, Backström agitates the social life of language and materials. Her practice maintains a longstanding inquiry into the glue of collectivity. Recent solo projects include The Shape of Co- to Come at ABF, Stockholm (2016), and ME have to be turned upside down to become WE at Zinc Bar, New York (2014). She has participated in group exhibitions at institutions such as MoMA PS1 (2015), MoMA (2010), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (2008) in New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010); and Tranzit, Prague (2008). Backström was the subject of a survey at the Artist’s Institute in 2015 and represented Sweden in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). Her work can be found in the collections of Moderna Museet and the Whitney Museum.

Hadi Fallahpisheh (b. 1987, Tehran, Iran) works primarily with photography, as well as performance and installation to destabilize visions of a stable and singular subject. Often commenting on conditions of displacement, his work questions the ability of representation to convey truths, revealing the gaps between public perception and personal experience. Fallahpisheh moved to New York in 2014, and received an MFA in Photography from Bard College in 2016. He is a graduate of the Creative Practices Program in Photography at the ICP, New York. He has presented work at venues including PAGE Gallery, Kai Matsumaiya, Off Vendome, ICP, and Callicoon Fine Arts, and in Tehran at Delgosha Gallery, Dastan Gallery and Maryam Harandi Gallery, among others.

Phoebe d’Heurle (b. 1987) is an artist and curator living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Her curatorial work troubles the boundaries between fixed genres and set authorship. One of her most recent projects was the curation of the multidisciplinary exhibition Other Hours at 601Artspace in 2017. She is currently preparing a curatorial and artist project for the Shed’s Open Call entitled She Models for Her a project that conceptually reframes the work of the artist Suzanne Valadon. She holds an MFA from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and a BA from Hunter College and has been the recipient of grants and scholarships including a visiting scholar at the Center for Contemporary Arts Kitakyushu, Japan and Congress Bundestag Scholar in Germany. She has presented work at different spaces such as the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, P exclamation, Ogura Gallery Japan, Situations NY, Hercules Art space, and Shenaynay Paris.

This exhibition is part of a series of guest-curated exhibitions at Baxter St at CCNY resulting from an open call for proposals, and is made possible in part by generous support from public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Steven Amedee Framing, and Yarden Wines.