Avisheh Mohsenin was born in France and moved to Iran as a child where she grew up and attended university before moving to the U.S. in 1997. In the U.S. she obtained a Masters in Economics and started her art career by taking classes and experimenting with various mediums. Avisheh’s work has moved from photographic compositions to sculptural mixed media pieces involving found objects, hand-fatigued magazine cutouts, light-boxes, and image making using acrylic, pencil, and collages.
R E S U R F A C E
Works on Canvas and Board. Archival Prints
Avisheh Mohsenin – 2018
Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston in August of 2017 submerged my home art studio in its waters for days. The blow of the destruction of the memorabilia, family slides, and artworks was one similar to the violation felt by a loss. The attempt to save these damaged photographs and artworks proved to be a futile exercise. In the heat of the moment as I started a familiarization process with this new kind of loss, something happened: I entered into a creative state working with the muddy images, discovering them in their new state. They were no longer the images of loved ones but surfaces with sophisticated lines and colors as if made mindfully and with intent. The accidental effect of a ravaging accident was a silver lining.
The “excavation” part of this series presents the reborn images in form of reprinted archival
photographs. They are the product of a slow marinating in a mix of photo chemicals and flood water. As I excavated through years of pre-digital photos I asked myself: why have I kept these photos in boxes for years? Looking at them, what do I really see? What was their role in documenting or reinterpreting memories? What happens now that I don’t have them? What do these photographs mean in the context of how photography has evolved today?
The “reinterpretation” part of this series includes collages I have made using the damaged images. Not long after examining questions about attachment, materialism, and memories, like a drunk pouring another glass, I was at the store buying art materials, printing hundreds of photos of the damaged photos and cutting them. The collages are the results of this exercise of recreating and not letting go. They are made entirely with images related to the aftermath of Harvey.
Some of the collages are reinterpreting the destruction. Putting pieces of doors and windows and chairs on top of each other on a canvas felt like rebuilding. Saving an image of a seriously damaged artwork by another artist felt like revering their creativity. The abstracted images of covered furniture were in a way helping to be in charge of the devastation, not its victim.
Are these collages a crutch to prevent my memory from editing itself? Or are they means to help go through the loss? They have served as both. Time will tell more.
Houston, Texas – 2018