Desire Moheb-Zandi, Fields of Reflections

30 January - 28 February 2021

21 rue Chapon, Paris 3

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Through the Skies, Screen Memories, In Between Dreams…. These assemblages that compose Desire Moheb-Zandi’s tapestries take us on a journey from Turkey to Brazil with a detour via California and the artist’s dreams. Presented by superzoom it is the first solo show of the artist in France. Her compositions create landscapes that are often abstract, often more obvious like pacific or Mediterranean sunsets. Desire observes, gathers and collects the materials that surround her: neon threads picked up in Pontal de Maceio in Brazil, some industrial plastic in New York, Some wool from a Hudson river farm, cotton threads in Turkey and even glitter in Paris. She intuitively assembles them to form a composite pallet of her formal and chromatic explorations. Two full days are necessary to gather the raw materials and prepare the floor loom. Once ready Desire dives into the composition of her oeuvre, almost without a sketch or preparatory work. She is guided by her intuition, as much as the instinct that provides the thread. This direct construction of the tapestry, thread by thread, shape by shape, places her in the long lineage of weavers – non occidental for the most – that don’t use conventional writings to compose the textile works and use rather symbols to transmit their ideas. 

 

 To understand Desire Moheb-Zandi’s process, we have to rewind to her origins: granddaughter of Uzbeks, Desire is born in Berlin and grew up in Turkey, the birth country of part of her family (the other being Iranian). She then moved to New York to study at Parsons School of Design. California, Brazil, Turkey and today France hosted the artist to live and work at the rhythm of her loom. She learned this technique from her grandmother. She taught her the ancestral know-how of a textile culture still very alive today, thanks to artists and artisans following the footsteps of their ancestors. Her grandmother was her guide. But Desire constructs little by little her own language she erected from the diversity of her cultural roots, her travels and the people she met along the way. But also, with the influence of artists she admires (Gunta Stölzl, Sheila Hicks, Erin Riley, Terri Friedman), the Turkish carpet fields of the Antalya region, Persian poems or Anatolian marble female idol of Kiliya type of bronze age Turkish sculptures. Desires works are the combinations of theses assemblages of links and threads intertwined, like fundamental liaisons of the collective and individual lives that meet into complex layouts. The thread crosses. It is traversed in turn, and the networks it forms create multiple narratives. Desire is driven by the endless possibilities offered by weaving. In Annie Albers’ own words “The reality of nature will seem to us to never end. As we observe it, it is infinite. It obeys laws that are never totally clear to our understanding. The reality of art contains its own conclusion. It establishes its own laws as the completion of the vision.”

 

In charge of the history of textile art, long confined to a customary and feminine vernacular practice, the thread is also the symbol of the transmission of a thousand-year-old know-how. Like Albers before her, Desire has "succeeded in the historic marriage of the artist's intuitive sculptural aptitude and the traditional arts of weaving". Indeed, she takes up all this symbolism of the fabric, while embarking on a free and inventive path to go beyond the frontiers of traditional weaving by using and exploring new materials and techniques of her own. The artist goes beyond the binary character of her loom to transcend the binarity of the world. She shatters the boundaries between masculine and feminine, between natural and industrial, between ancient and contemporary, between strength and serenity. Desire puts all her heart into her work and the forms come to her like words. The ritual she applies to her works, some of which took three weeks to complete, gives her immense joy, she confides. "My works are like an extension of myself, they give off and provoke strong emotions that visitors seize to reinterpret them in their own way. Visitors can also be attracted by the tactile sensation of the works presented. The artist allows us to touch them with the greatest care. Isn't this a generous invitation on his part, in a moment when touching, caressing, touching is so dreaded?

 

Josephine Dupuy Chavanat translated by Ferdinand Gros