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1971, Tehran. Lives in Tehran and Stuttgart.

Solmaz Shahbazi’s light box images are culled from previous wanderings, testaments to the ambiguities of time and place. Taken in different cities of this region, her subjects are perhaps first and foremost how we collectively relate to photography, revealing their enormous ability to frame reality, shape and define the sphere of the inclusive, and perhaps more importantly, the exclusive. The city features as an anonymous, a-contextual entity. People are all but absent, as are textual and cultural references that would root her images in time or place. These images are about the non-importance of place, origin and the ambiguities embedded within the reproducible image.
Shahbazi’s enquiry culminates in two videos made in İstanbul that expose the (im)possibility of seamlessly penetrating geographies that can never be one’s own. Found in the gated communities on the outskirts of the city of İstanbul – in Kemer Country, Bahçeşehir, Optimum and so on – are enclosed societies of people, their desire perhaps emblematic of a brave new İstanbul and its newly created areas of detached identity; as much as it is a show of concern in change, rendered obvious by their choice to inhabit zones of enforced separation in simulated modernities, away from the crowd.
Over Shahbazi’s images we hear a discussion, almost clinical in nature, between the artist and three Turkish academics. They answer Shahbazi’s queries about these satellite residential structures, laying bare her naiveté and wonder. Ultimately, the discussion presents these gated communities as an entity unto themselves, both at odds with one perception of normalcy, and yet constructed as perfect formal repetitions, they conform to an internationally endorsed norm.

Vasıf Kortun


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