In the ODD Gallery: Aileen Bahmanipour

June 28 – August 10, 2023 * Extended until August 19th

Artist Talk + Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 28, 7:30PM

The ODD Gallery is pleased to present an interactive drawing and sculptural installation by Aileen Bahmanipour. IT IS MEANT TO BE READ contemplates issues of regulation and information access and includes a series of handmade papers resulting from the deconstruction and reconstruction of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Exhibition statement

I’m interested in the agency of a material and the ways in which it can take over the autography of a person or group of people. I investigate manuals as transparent utopian sources of information that afford the promise of showing us how systems work. I question if a Constitutional Law could be a manual with similar promises.

IT IS MEANT TO BE READ is an interactive drawing and sculptural installation that includes a series of handmade papers from deconstruction and reconstruction of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and contemplates issues of regulation and information access. It digests two categories of source material and teases out the formation of information in the act of reading, writing, and archiving.

The installation is a self-destructive archive system: a “transparent” filing cabinet and collection of diagrammatic imagery which was found online and selected for its tendency to bypass internet filters put in place by the Government of Iran. By painstakingly removing the negative spaces in these printed images and stacking them in transparent folders, I conflate figure and ground, creating new visual forms. The viewer is invited to flip through the collection gathered inside a modified filing cabinet that has been made see-through by the removal of its exterior panels. From the lower drawer of the cabinet, plastic tubing administers a slow drip of anti-archival, acidic ink that will, over time, rust on the acetate and mar parts of its imagery.

Exploring the materiality of the paper and paper-making process as a matrix and ground that embraces the image/figure/information, the series of handmade papers studies an English translation of The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In one approach, I shredded the Constitution and reassembled it with twisted knotted lines, attempted to create a new imagined constitution, a possibility for a concrete poetry, a possible new meaning or interpretation. A more cryptic series are 55 pages that record the fingertip movements that were made in still-wet fibers of handmade paper pulp, with each imprint attributed to my bodily gesture and memory as I typed the Constitution into the keypad of my underlying tablet computer.

 IT IS MEANT TO BE READ invites active interpretation of reading manuals (be it a constitution of a country or an exploded view of a machine) with their promise of transparency and sharing knowledge about how a system works from inside, despite the opacity of its facade.

AILEEN BAHMANIPOUR is an Iranian-Canadian visual artist. She is currently living and working on the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples, known as Vancouver, and in Bella Coola Valley, the traditional territory of Nuxalk people. She has received her BFA in Painting from the Tehran University of Art and her MFA in Visual arts from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She is currently a member of the Continuing Studies faculty at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

Bahmanipour has exhibited her works internationally as well as in Canada, including her solo and group exhibitions at the GlogauAIR (Berlin), Banff Centre for the Arts, Alternator Centre for the Contemporary Arts (Kelowna), Vancouver’s grunt gallery, Two Rivers Gallery (Prince George), and Aaran Art gallery (Tehran). 

She is the recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant in 2017, the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Artist Fund in 2019, the Early Career Development grant from BC Arts Council in 2019, the Linda and Richard Singleton Endowment Fund in 2022, the Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council’s grants in 2021and 2022.

photo by: Dennis Ha

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.