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Perhaps All of the Sky Is Unable to Turn A Page of This Tightness of the Heart

Golnar Adili


Booklyn is pleased to present “perhaps all the sky is unable to turn a page of this tightness of the heart,” an exhibition of prints, collages, and a new artist book by Golnar Adili.

Since 2009, the bulk of Adili’s work deals directly with the extensive personal archive of family letters and documents that she found upon the death of her father, a member of the Iranian intelligentsia who was forced to flee in the wake of the post-1979 revolution.  Adili negotiates these textures of her personal history as one might a quilt formed from the clothing of many garments.  Glimpses from literature, Persian poetry, and Iranian cultural and political history coexist amidst a palpable emotional subterrain.

“There is so much here that my father clearly knew I would eventually see.”

The exhibition at Booklyn focus on two series formed from this material.  One is a selection of large hand-made prints redacted from an impassioned set of letters that Adili’s father wrote to a lover: the writings exist as a repeating set of the Persian vowel “yeh,” which resembles the upcurve of an ocean wave.  Assembled in a visually similar shape are a set of epigrammatic collaged drawings that Adili has culled from family photographs of hands.  A new artist book arranges these works together into an attentive, notational visual language, contextualized by Adili’s own writing.

Endless gestural repetitions of hands, fingers, and the occasional forearm are mitigated by a constellation of threads of graphite and the patterning formed of aligned images.  Adili examines such visual movements as might a scientist studying the habits and patterns of a species.  So too the collages nod back to the photographic studies of Eadweard Muybridge.  The obsessiveness is devotional: endearing, affectionate.  A psychological and physiological portrait study of the father.  Through this emergence, it is at once a specific father; her father, and yet one who figuratively approaches an archetype, existing simply as a person whose presence remains only in words and papers, in the memory and investigative imaginings of another generation.

In this way the work exudes a resilient universality, bringing with it questions of identity, memory, loss, place, and translation; seeming bedfellows of an unconquerable longing to understand one’s history.

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