Mosie Romney: it's not My Music | Shoora Majedian: DAMAVAND دماوند 👀

1700 S Santa Fe Avenue, #160, Los Angeles 90021
May 07, 5 PM - 7 PM — ends Jun 18, 2022
it’s not My Music is its own echo. In here, witnessing becomes a form of authorship. Drawing from their vintage photo archive, Mosie Romney looks, corrodes, grows, and imprints found memories into new worlds. Their canvases are woven with magic—forms, figures, and ideas disappear and reappear within them. Subjectivity and the act of seeing and hearing become a metabolizing process that destabilizes the known, fixed states of mine/yours/ours/theirs. This is a Black collective production. This is call and response, this is the sample, the beat, the loop, the meme. It’s not my music, it’s ours!

The exhibition, Romney’s second solo with Nicodim, emerges underneath the nighttime magic of Hecate. Impossible spaces assert their dominion within and beyond the gallery walls— time and identity are compressed, distorted, opaqued, vaulted, organic, exhibitional—they produce their own fantasy acoustics. Sound and possibility are in abundance here. Bodies old and used morph into new, taking spirit-form. They explode through logic and time, caught mid-transit journeying through and opening portals. The music cracks, breaks, deconstructs, destroys in tradition and reverbs towards freedom.

What is the sound of a color? A lo-o-o-o-ok? How do you say “???” in real life?

Romney’s process breaks the boundaries of the archive, memory, truth, reality and fantasy. The audience becomes the player, the player becomes the director, the director becomes the subject, the subject becomes the scene. Characters vibrate on the brink, and break past their realms. People, creatures, spaces fall out of the works to look and see. They digest, frame, piss, fart, and sing out the worlds around them. Through mirrors, reflection, and refraction, we watch them experience and remember themselves. They, too, are authoring and we, once the audience, are allowing ourselves to be seen and made material. We are all transforming each other and leaving empty spaces behind.

When a flow is suppressed, an eruption is inevitable. The intensity of the imminent burst of Damavand embodies a sudden motion and vibration, an eventual change. The fire sparks in my fingers, the water ripples in my eyes, and they merge with my brush. My brush is Damavand; it is ready to blast. It is prepared to form a metamorphosis.

– Shoora Majedian

Mount Damavand, an active stratovolcano beneath Tehran, is the most elevated peak in Western Asia. Its cultural significance stems from Persian mythology and the text The Shahnameh, an epic poem written by Ferdowsi between 977 and 1010 CE. Mount Damavand has thus come to represent Iranian resistance against despotism and foregin rule in Persian poetry and literature. Geologically it is a paradox—the flowing lava inside the volcano is contrasted with thick layers of ice and occasional mist that blanket it.

Shoora Majedian’s artistic practice mirrors this divergence. She examines personal memories while also considering both the emancipation and restrictions of her figures and the spaces they inhabit in her paintings. A comparative language emerges in the works, influenced by her embodied experience pre-and-post-migration and her own childhood—she emigrated to Canada after spending her first thirty years in Iran. Painting from memory rather than reference allows Majedian to experiment with the fluidity of the medium through color and mark making, centering herself more distinctly inside the worlds of her canvases.

Though Majedian’s subject begins with moments distinct to her heritage, she also includes identifiers and utilitarian objects that are immediately relatable. Most of Majedian’s practice starts off this way, as she negotiates a comparative storytelling pulled from and related to her past and present. Association With Fire (2019) brings to light the artist’s relationship with her grandfather, a baker, who she describes as a religious man, ever-fearful of the afterlife. Majedian created two versions of this scene, a work on paper and a large work on canvas, each loosely depicting his flatbread bakery in Tehran. Heat envelops the composition of both works, the elder man’s form absorbing into the intense smoke emanating from a burning brick oven. Majedian captures the labor of the bakery in conversation with visual articulations of hell through fire and smoke, sin and eternity.

It is the small, uncomfortable moments that excite Majedian. Where some find security in the routine aspects of life, she sees uneasiness and complication. Born during the second year of the Iran-Iraq war, the artist characterizes her upbringing as one where multiple sociological, historical, and political crises converged. Her paintings unpack the complexity of what she calls her “social memories” of that time, living in an immediately post-revolution Iran. While each painting tells a distinct story, Majedian balances relatability, shock, and discomfort, to pose questions about generational memory combined with painterly experimentation.

Text by Rachel Keller