PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES Online Exhibition / PRISKA PASQUER VIRTUAL GALLERY / Curated by Tina Sauerlaender (peer to space)
In the exhibition, Mohsen Hazrati involves the visitors in the process of creating words and meanings. Along the way to the virtual gallery, visitors choose their avatars in the shape of letters from the Latin alphabet on a sheet of paper. In this way, each visitor embodies a letter and represents its meaning. In a mirror at the PRISKA PASQUER Virtual Gallery, they encounter themselves and other avatars and they jointly create new words. Though it appears as a mirror, it is actually a stream being recorded by the budgerigar bird sitting beside it. In Iranian culture, the budgerigar bird, perched on the hand of its owner, picks a written note out of a stack of cards containing quotes from the famous Shirazi poet Hafiz. For its reader, the text functions as a divination. This method of telling the future or finding answers through randomly chosen text passages is called bibliomancy. It posits that there is a mystic connection between the individual and the text in that moment of selection, since the individual will interpret the text according to their needs and wishes. Instead of picking paper notes, the budgerigar bird in Hazrati’s installation draws its inspiration from a huge PDF document, thus symbolizing today’s digital books and their corresponding knowledge.
The artist liberates the gallery from its grounded existence and turns it into a free-floating place in the sky. A majestic bird hovers above the gallery. The winged giant not only evokes the Phoenix, but also the Persian Simurgh, the king of the birds, which serves as a symbol for the self-knowledge that can only be reached when adhering to virtues like kindness or benevolence. The bird’s appearance reflects the colors of its surroundings and therefore metaphorically encompasses the whole space. Circling back to the idea of our avatars creating words from letters, the mystic bird symbolizes that not a single letter or person is of too much significance. Together, we create, shape, and constantly transform our own narratives