Tehran-born and -based artist Nazgol Ansarinia explores the systems and experiences that shape contemporary Iranian life. Through a vast range of media including sculpture, video, drawing, and installation, Ansarinia draws connections between observed realities and their entangled political, environmental, and socioeconomic issues.Read More
Ansarinia holds a BA(Honours) in Graphic and Media Design from the London College of Communication (2001). In 2003, she graduated with an MFA from San Francisco's California College of the Arts.
Nazgol Ansarinia frequently responds to systems and their associated physical forms, examining their relationships to wider social contexts. Research concerns include Iran's water crisis, pollution, international politics, media, and Iranian architecture.
Responding to ongoing changes in her built and natural environments, Ansarinia frequently revisits subjects in her practice, reimagining new iterations in different mediums as they complement her concepts.
For the video Living Room (2005), Ansarinia responded to the air pollution in Tehran, which was noticeably worse upon her return from studying abroad. Comprised of images of Ansarinia's parents' former home, the video slowly reveals an apparently blank wall to be covered in dust and marks from pollution, leaving gaps where furnishings had been removed. Highlighting environmental issues while quietly contemplating the passage of time and the inhabiting of space, Living Room exemplifies the artist's ability to index entwined environmental and social histories.
Ansarinia has stated: 'My work is always focused on the environment that I live in, portraying very ordinary, everyday life and my position within that context ... I'm a deconstructionist who reconstructs the torn apart elements that show something new about something so banal that has gone unnoticed.'
Ansarinia's interest in architecture and the built environment is reflected in works such as Membrane (2014), a 16-foot suspended paper frottage of the wall of a two-storey Tehran house that had been demolished. Like a shedded skin, Membrane stands as an ephemeral, minimal relic of Tehran's accelerating urbanisation.
Similarly, 'Pillars' (2014—ongoing), a series of cast resin columns partially sliced open to reveal inscriptions of text from the Iranian constitution, testifies to the evolving socioeconomic climate of Iran while inhabiting a symbolic architectural form. Myrna Ayad writes for Artforum: '[Ansarinia] elegantly pokes fun at today's Iranian nouveau riche, who celebrate their heritage in a contemporary and kitschy manner by building homes with pillars as exterior details in an attempt to enrich their surroundings.'
Iran's exponential rate of growth and urban development is further explored in Demolishing buildings, buying waste (2017), a collection of ceramic bricks based on demolition detritus. As gentrification rises, Ansarinia contemplates the aesthetic and social implications of construction, as well as the rewriting of an historic cityscape. Dilpreet Bhullar has written in STIRworld: 'The debris to which these miniature-sized "demolished buildings" refer to, is an erasure of Ansarinia's memory of the city.'
Ansarinia is recognised for her ongoing visual enquiry in relation to swimming pools, stemming from research into a suite of private pools commissioned in Tehran in the late 1960s.
Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the pools fell into disrepair, with many remaining empty and inoperative today. Ansarinia's responses have ranged from casts in concrete, plaster, and resin—seen in The Inverted Pool (2019), Private Waters (2020), or Connected Pools (2020)—to observational video, seen in Dissolving Substances (2020).
On the exhibition Lakes Drying, Tides Rising at Green Art Gallery (2022), which brought together multiple works resulting from Ansarinia's research into pools, Elaine YJ Zheng wrote for Ocula Magazine: '[the exhibition] references Iran's water crisis to exemplify the collective desire of a particular time, while marking resulting shifts in the proximal landscape.'
In 2021, the book Nazgol Ansarinia: Inquiries into the Present was published, which spans 15 years of the artist's career.
Ansarinia is also included in numerous survey books and catalogues, including Reflections: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa (2020) published by the British Museum and THE SPARK IS YOU (2019), published by Parasol unit, London.
In 2008, Ansarinia was the recipient of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize.
Ansarinia has held residencies at the International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2017); MOP/Parasol Unit Research Residency, London (2014); and UNIDEE, Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella (2006).
Ansarinia has presented in solo and group exhibitions throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe, U.K., and U.S.A. since the early 2000s.
Select solo exhibitions include Lakes Drying, Tides Rising, Green Art Gallery, Dubai (2022); Pools and Voids, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan (2021); The Room Becomes a Street, Argo Factory, Tehran (2020); The Inverted Pool, Argo Factory (2019); Demolishing buildings, buying waste, Green Art Gallery (2018); Fragments, Particles and the Mechanisms of Growth, KIOSK, Ghent (2017).
Select group exhibitions include the 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT10), Queensland Art Gallery Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane (2021); Hungry for Time, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (2021); and Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians — The Mohammed Afkhami Collection, Asia Society Museum, New York (2021)__.
Ansarinia's works are held in major international collections, including the Sharjah Art Foundation; Tate Collection, London; British Museum, London; QAGOMA, Brisbane; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Devi Art Foundation, Delhi.
Ansarinia's Instagram can be found here.
Misong Kim | Ocula | 2022
The Aga Khan Museum's new exhibit, Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians, features 27 contemporary works by 23 Iranian artists, on loan to the museum from Iranian business consultant anRead More