In a radical departure from her usual practice of site-specific projects, Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s first solo exhibition in London is a selection of works from the last fifteen years. She describes her practice as a continual process of interrogation and unhinging of socio-political hierarchies and conventions; of seeking to defrock and destabilise systems of representation and authority. By placing the works alongside each other for the first time, Sadr Haghighian draws out new perspectives and connects the various debates and questions raised by them over the years.
In her exhibition for Carroll / Fletcher, Sadr Haghighian’s richly detailed, collaborative investigations utilise a wide variety of media, such as video, slide projection, sound, websites, photography and actions, to explore issues as diverse as the control and manipulation of the world’s scarce resources; consumerism and corporatism; identity, power and class; and the structures and rituals of the professional art world.
de Paso (2011-12) – originally a site-specific commission for MACBA in Barcelona – has been re-contextualised to investigate the impact of the European Union’s deregulation of the aviation industry in 1992 and connections to the history of London’s water supplies.
In 2000, Sadr Haghighian was awarded the BDI (Cultural Circle of German Industry) Ars Viva Prize. In response, she invited the Ars Viva selection panel to a meeting at a bus stop in Berlin. The meeting became a collective performance around the rituals of knowledge production and image-transfer, during which Sadr Haghighian gave a lecture, applied a drawing to the information panel at the bus stop, and handed out slide viewers from a metal suitcase. The entire situation was filmed and photographed by an ‘under-cover agent’ from across the street.
In The Microscope (2006) the eyepiece of a microscope from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) is replaced by a speaker emitting a synthesized vocoder version of Every Breath You Take. Adjacent to the microscope, a booklet details a conversation between Sadr Haghighian and Evelyn Fox-Keller, professor of History and Philosophy of Science at MIT and author of The Biological Gaze (in which Fox-Keller examines how concepts of looking generate what the scientist actually sees under the microscope). The conversation discusses the construction of reality based on what one sees with the mind’s rather than the body’s eye.
The show also includes the research for Trail (2012), Sadr Haghighian’s participation in dOCUMENTA (13), supported by Carroll / Fletcher. For this project, she constructed a footpath on a slope made of debris from World War II, parallel to the Ehrenmal, a monumental staircase that connects the park to the city centre and commemorates the German soldiers who died in both world wars. As the visitor descends the trail, onomatopoeic animal sounds in different languages emanate from nearby trees and bushes. The sounds were recorded with residents of Kassel. www.d13trail.de is a web-based trail that accompanies the physical one.
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