This is Not an Eggplant

Katayoun Amjadi

In her work I Pity the Garden, the Iranian poet Forough Farokhzad grieves the loss of the family garden, the world’s garden, and through passages in the voices of her father, mother, brother and sister, describes how despair has infected all that were nourished by its soil. The poem features prominently in my 2019 multi-media installation The Garden: Recalling Paradise. The garden here serves as a metaphor for the nation, for the land, for the earth itself, and for the collective “we the people.”

My MCAD/Jerome installation, featured here, consists of two bodies of work that build on my earlier work and that were conceived in the dawn of the cold season of January 2020: This is Not an Eggplant, a multimedia installation, and Diaries of a Village Potter, four visual poems.
 


 

This is Not an Eggplant (2020-22) installation proposes that the threat of ecological failure is intertwined with the dark rifts of the political landscape that continue to shape our personal and collective lives. The present, held in abeyance, is deeply rooted in history and yearns for a better future, the possibilities of “what if?” How can an individual imagine otherwise when the collective is turning aside? Why is this “we” so disparate? What can bring us together? Art? Poetry? Protest?
 


 

This is Not an Eggplant, 2020-2022
multimedia installation at MCAD Gallery
laser-cut steel, cast porcelain, 18k gold luster, water, oil, coins, blood meal
 


Collectively titled Diaries of a Village Potter, the following are four visual poems that are linked one to the other as introspective meditations about a world on the brink. Simply spoken, they are the reflections of a village potter, the storyteller.

One of the concerns I always carry in my practice is the efficacy of the work to reach the public and affect the dialogue and engaged awareness that I seek with the world at large. Currently it is even more so. The question raised now is the sufficiency of what I do as an exhibiting artist, and indeed what it means to “exhibit” in today’s world.

My approach to answering this was to review recent and current work as a trove to be mined and reshaped to gather the stories I wish to tell into a format of exchange that is lighter, more nimble and versatile while still carrying the core messages of my work.

I’m looking for alternative ways of creating affective experiences with the audience without relying on physical presence and manipulation of space. To that end I’m experimenting with the manipulation of different media in order to create new short videos with poetic voice-over narratives as a digital method of distribution.


The Village Potter, 2020
 


The Village Potter, 2020
HD Video | 07:28
Politically Engaged Art Amid Multiple Pandemics Webinar at the University of Minnesota

This work uses selected footage from The Names We Change interview recordings and expands and grounds the question of “what’s your name?” in today’s political climate.
 


The Village Potter Reprise (Eggplant), 2021
 


The Village Potter Reprise (Eggplant), 2021
HD Video | 06:23
Virtual Studio Visit with The Brooklyn Rail on Instagram: On the Spot with Katayoun Amjadi