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The Maids

28.10.17 - 07.01.18

The Iranian collective formed by Ramin Haerizadeh (Tehran, 1975), Rokni Haerizadeh (Tehran, 1978) and Hesam Rahmanian (Knoxville, 1980), a group of artists established in Dubai who have collaborated since 2009, won the 2nd Han Nefkens Foundation-MACBA Award for Contemporary Art. The jury considered that the work of this artists’ collective differs from today’s dominant tendencies in art by their recovery of the importance of experience and sensuality in their works, which focus on contemporary politics with wit and irony. Their playful installations blur individual practices through their immediate visual impact.

On show at MACBA is their artistic proposal “The Maids”, a multi-part exhibition created in response to the city of Barcelona, and the result of a two year process the artists call “an assembling of a collective body”. As artists, collaboration is central to their practice; their goal is to create more equitable forms of artistic exchange by inviting different makers to contribute freely and independently to ongoing works in progress.

For the project, the artists sought out Joan Baixas, the renowned Catalan puppet artist and stage director whose work they have long admired. They also extended invitations to artist Niyaz Azadikhah, who has been leading community-based women’s sewing workshops in Tehran; John Cole, a robotics engineer who specialises in sensors, and an international group of writers, including Mandana Mohit and Sohrab Mahdavi. “The Maids” showcases the product of these exchanges, such as the robot-driven puppet (designed by Baixas and Cole) that opens in response to the behaviour of gallery visitors to reveal a patchwork of embroideries by Tehrani women and Afghan women refugees on the theme of everyday fears. The puppet faces a wall-sized assemblage of poetry, painting and drawing that incorporates “Unfaithful Poems”, a series of subjective rewritings of contemporary poetry produced in collaboration with writers and translators. Also on view are three video works: “To the Left to the Right and Around” (2016), “From Sea to Dawn” (2016–17) and “Moving painting”, plus their performance-based video work “The Maids” (2012–15), which, like the exhibition, borrows its title from the eponymous 1947 play by Jean Genet.

“We make a space for friends to bring their own approaches”, the artists say. “It’s important for the process to be open-ended, and the ideas of the invited people into the project become organs of the process.” In this case, the notion of fear introduced by Baixas in relation to systems of control resonated with the artists own interest in the question of power, and the ways that the powerful and powerless switch their roles, time and again, or what they call, after Genet, “Madames and maids”. “What’s in the space between the controller and the controlled?” Baixas asks. “A system we call behaviour.”

Until 7 January 2018


Plaça dels Àngels, 1
08001 Barcelona. Spain

T/+34 934 813 356

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