Taba & Shooki | "Over There": Dastan's Basement

19 February - 12 March 2021 The Basement

A solo presentation of works by Taba & Shooki.

Installation Views
Press release

Dastan presents “Over There”, an exhibition of works by Taba & Shooki. The exhibition will open on February 19 and continue through March 12, 2021. This is the third exhibition of Taba & Shooki at Dastan, following “Tales of Interdisciplinia: The Curious Company of a Very Long Tail” (Dastan’s Basement, January 2019) and “Memebrain” (Electric Room, 19/50, December 2017).

“Memebrain”, their first collaborative project, was an interdisciplinary multimedia installation consisting of a recorded performance, animation, paintings and three-dimensional works. In “Memebrain”, the artists created a space within the exhibition space, a trend which would be continued and expanded upon in their next exhibition, “Tales of Interdisciplinia: The Curious Company of a Very Long Tail” in which a number of different territories were created to present a multi-dimensional narrative. The current project follows a similar approach, and recycles the same wall-like structures uses in the previous exhibitions, reusing and reshaping them to create territories within the exhibition space; an alternative world designed to take the viewer into a visual and narrative path. 

The subject matter of this exhibition is the mountain and its depictions. Yet, here the mountain is a mere form and an excuse to project the artists’ personal experiences unto, so as to create a unique experience of it. Visiting the mountain, one encounters new experiences that are fundamentally different from life in the city. 

Following their previous approach, over the recent year, the artists focused on the topic from several different points of study, including mythological, symbolism and semiotics, and moved on to design a multi-disciplinary and multi-media context comprising painting, three-dimensional work, interactive and kinetic pieces, video and animation. Such an approach, while evident in the general outlook of the show, remains discernible in each of the pieces, as each work features a unique intermixing of media. 

The mountain experience is often perceived as a sublime, elevated and unreal experience. Nevertheless, in recent history, this experience has morphed into a type of entertainment, while the mountain has also become a place for extraction of materials, moving away from their archetypal concepts of a sacred place and a source of inspiration. In this exhibition, this metamorphosis has become a motivation for the territorialization/de-territorialization of the gallery space, to present layers of their narrative. 

A large painting symbolizes the grand, wide, and panoramic view one feels while overlooking the territories below, and seeks to cover the viewer’s field of view when entering the show. 

The parchment-paper walls, or “membranes” as the artists refer to them, recycled from the previous show, this time stand against a naturalistic depiction approach and are covered with artificial and vivid colors, since “as art seeks to depict nature more objectively loyal, it becomes more artificial”. The membranes have created a hallway, defining a part of the exhibition as a confined territory. Like the archetypal sacred or inspirational remote caves in history, this narrow path symbolizes the journey inside a mountain and into the earth, or the inner world of the artists. 

The interactive pieces in the exhibition, on the other hand, stand for the aforementioned recent change in our perception of the mountains: from being sacred to becoming objects of entertainment. Moreover, they symbolize the return journey from the mountain to the city, standing on the open plain and taking a few deep breaths farewell. 

Taba Fajrak and Shokoofeh Khoramroodi (Taba & Shooki) are an artist duo based in Tehran, Iran. They began working together in 2016 after meeting during a collaborative urban art project at Niavaran Cultural Center. The duo’s collaborative effort started with an interest in the representations of the self in art, which is reflected in the omnipresent imagery of their own figures in their pieces. Implicit in their work is the idea that self-reflexivity and performativity of the artist’s life and artistic conventions tend to be original sources of creation. Trying to defy any neat categorization in their work, they believe that everyday life is a potential subject matter for art. They have depicted and recorded themselves in their pictures and videos, narrating the stories and their experiences as they work together as a duo. Discerning between interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary practice, the duo’s project is to make use of different techniques and media to form an interconnected body of work which encompass a wide range from animation, video, live and recorded performances to paintings, illustrations and three-dimensional large-scale installations. Taba Fajrak (b. 1989, Tehran, Iran) is a performance artist, dancer, and researcher. She is a graduate of English Language and Literature from the University of Tehran. She continued her studies in nonsense literature and non-verbal performance, obtaining a master’s degree in English Literature from Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran). Her pieces have been featured in several exhibitions and public performances. Taba frequently works in collaboration with other artists from a range of different disciplines. Shokoofeh Khoramroodi (b. 1988, Hamedan, Iran) studied Painting at the Faculty of Arts & Architecture (Azad University, Tehran) and Yazd Faculty of Art & Architecture. Focusing mostly on drawing over her career, more recently she has experimented in animation and multidisciplinary work. Shokoufeh’s drawings, paintings and animation pieces have been featured in more than ten group exhibitions, as well as a number of collaborative projects.

The artists would like to thank Mehran Afshar, Ashkan Zahraei, Mohammad Hossein Gholamzadeh, Siavash Naghshbandi, Tala Azarakhsh, Zahra Rostamian, Tahoora Ayati, Mehdi Navid for their support, and the team at Dastan’s Basement including Sam Roknivand, Parmiss Afkham Ebrahimi, Melika Zandi, Alireza Kazemi, Iliyar Mehrabi and Roshan Takallomi for their help during the show’s setup.