A Review on the Structure of a Simple Concept - Babak Golkar


 A Review on the Structure of a Simple Concept

Published on Tandis magazine, No.285
By: Mohsen Saghafy
A glance at “Soil Work”, the first individual exhibition of Babak Golkar at The Centre of Contemporary Arts of Sazeman-e Ab- Water Store
Clay, scream, Redifinition, Man, Creation, Suppression, Protest Expression, and so on…
These are the words coming into one’s mind when encountering the works of Babak Golkar. These are the handicrafts made of clay—material work with two different structural aspects: One alluding to the Man’s Creation Myth and the other symbolizing the history of man’s development trend in dominating nature. The first is a symbolic allusion to man’s nature and his creation out of clay transformed into a thinking but mortal creature by gods’ breathing into the clay and the second is a historical reference to man’s dominance over nature and making the first primitive tool enabling him to live in the ancient world.
Now, this man’s handmade product the material work of which is used to create the necessary pots for life and a means to protect his water and food changes in quality to the expression of a modern concept. It changes into entrapping or intensifying mental expression of contemporary man. The man, who not a while ago made use of his clay pottery to protect his food to survive, now faces some thing made of the same material with the same form of the ancient pottery but totally with a different function. Now he has to shut in the expression of his idea or to bounce it around. The material which used to be his creating tool now changes into his fighting tool—the one by which he can express his protest. The material which used to record the artifact (work) of his creator now transforms into the
work of thought.
Golkar’s 50 small clay “scream-pot” placed on a big table in the form of clay jars and oil-cups of the past centuries with deformed mouths do the same thing with the screaming voice of the viewers that are expected to do as their original function—that is keeping the voice in and not letting the voice go out of the screaming-pot. If we consider the scream as a symbol of man’s protest, these clay-made works show themselves in new appearances and entrap and shut in the revolt. The diversity of small scream-pots can represent the diversity of factors used for suppressing people such social norms, rules, family restrictions, suppressing political and security institutions, and so on.
In contrast with this entrapment, there are 3 big scream-pots displayed in another exhibition hall. These big scream-pots contrasting with their small counterparts do not shut the scream voice in, but on the contrary reflect and reinforce the scream voice. They are big scream-pots leaning against comfortable small slanting pillows. These scream-pots are determined not only to intensify the contemporary man’s chaotic voice, but also to expose the structure and quality of the voice screamed within itself to transformation. And… what an odd similarity it does have with modern institutions crying out the reflection of protesting voices!
 To express one’s protest, you should go to another hall located on one of the floors of the three-floor complex of Sazeman-e Ab (Water Organization, the name of gallery).  Audiences’ throwing clay at a curtain showing a video about other audiences’ throwing clay in another exhibition takes place in the same hall. Perhaps at the first look, this clay throwing looks like a game, but when we consider the thrown clay as the one the Creation Myth calls man’s nature and it is the same material for other artworks in the previous floors of the building having direct relationship with the protest expression and its entrapment and aggravation, and the audience of this exhibition is throwing clay at the picture of protest of another nation, it is possible that our attention is drawn more to the protests happening in our own country and as a result to the protests of people all over the world.
Golkar’s last “Soil Work” is a canvas painted with the print of the painter’s finger soaked in soil. The soil which in the potters’ handmade work was recording the artist’s fingerprint was the same canvas, used by the painter, now is transformed into an artwork placed on another canvas.