Ted Baker KSA

On Top of the World Farhad Moshiri in talk with Nik Nejad: A Dialogue on Identity Crisis & Artistic Conflict

One of the most influential psychoanalysts of the 20th century, Erik H. Erikson (1902-1994) coined the term identity crisis. His legacy lies within his basic developmental premise that conflict is negotiated in the context of relationships and identity crisis is the confusion of roles, or the identity, which he identified in 1970 as “a subjective sense as well as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity, paired with some belief in the sameness and continuity of some shared world image.”

With a world concerned more with the appearance of belonging rather than the actual sense of possession, today’s generation of globalized youth have diluted their cultural identity through the borderless world of social media and the limitlessness of the World Wide Web. Diaspora becomes an archaic term of the past as we hide behind virtual identities that are as superficial as the photo-shopped profile pictures that represent them. The artist becomes less of a creative and more of an avatar; his work an extension of this commercial persona rather than a limb of a creative being that once severed, will rot and decay.

Nik Nejad is an emerging Persian artist based between Dubai and Los Angeles who refuses to amputate his “limbs.” Exploring a multitude of mediums, from painting and photography, to audio-visual short art films, Nejad is the epitome of his lost generation—in search for an identity that sets him apart, yet connects him to a greater world image. Art critics have described his work as products of an incestuous marriage between Jackson Pollock and Chuck Close. From a common obsession with Facebook, to a wisdom well above your average late-twenty-something creative, Nejad possesses an astuteness toward a contemporary world going through its own political and financial crises that works only to push him deeper into the rabbit hole of today’s quest for authenticity.

Farhad Moshiri needs no introduction. With more than twenty solo exhibitions under his belt, international acclaim, and the titleholder as the first Iranian artist to sell his work for above one million dollars, Moshiri’s identity extends beyond his visceral body. His identity has become his crisis; fame has become his enemy, making anonymity, his only refuge, now obsolete. Born in Shiraz, Iran, in 1963,Moshiri’s search for a perspective unfolds much like a Luigi Pirandello play, where “the theater is in the theater;” Moshiri is the artist in the art.

The following dialogue reveals an intimate conversation between the two artists, who albeit only two decades apart,
represent a paragon of their respective generations; yet share a common drive to stay genuine, yet relevant.

Nik Nejad: Many believe that your aesthetic has a certain freshness that makes it stand out from the rest of the Iranian art scene. Were you trying to stand out from the rest?
Farhad Moshiri: I do try to think and analyze before I create. Iranian contemporary art became interesting to western viewers when it started to comment on society, when it came out of abstraction. It was giving an image of society that was really not being seen, or if it was being seen it was being misrepresented in the media. There was a building up of curiosity due to lack of information that was coming out of Iran and artists felt that creating art that was inspired by certain social phenomena was getting all the attention. I was on the same boat. It is relevant to be socially conscious during these times, not to be starting a revolution but also I believe it is important that you do not cut yourself off from society. If you cut yourself off from society and you are not living anywhere else then it is very difficult to say something that is communicable.

Does your Iranian identity play a major role in your work?
Well I didn’t sit down and make sure there was something Iranian about my work. Many artists have said that they do not see any Iranian in my work; I do not argue that. Now we see a global mind-frame where you are borrowing
from anywhere. Iran itself is borrowing from anywhere, when you go to the bazaar you find products from around the world. It becomes very complicated. That’s the idea about my work, it questions that Iranian aesthetic and mixes it with a lot of other identities, which generally people do. It’s almost like an experiment.

Article By Marriam Mossalli – Oasis Magazine