OPEN RELATIONSHIP in collaboration with The Back Room and Culture Hub

Part of the Conversations with Iran Series

Recess Gallery, 41 Grand St
November 1, 3pm

A European friend once wrote to me, “I wish your country will open up one day.” What a strange word, I thought: “Open up!” Is it not what the policeman shouts at the door? Open up to what or whom? To modernization? To the global market? To capitalism? To penetration? Or, less aggressively, to adaptation? Or, ultimately, to translation? Or is it just opening up a space, some sort of a void? —Bavand Behpoor, “Politics of Opening: Translation as Authorship”

Architect and scholar Craig L. Wilkins and the curators of The Back Room, Ava Ansari and Molly Kleiman, will discuss the strategies for devising proactive engagements with marginalized spaces in Iran and the US, and the challenges to enacting such efforts. The event will act as a coda to the eight-week, three-channel telepresence workshop conducted this spring by The Back Room in collaboration with CultureHub, with participating artists, architects, and writers at Sazmanab Center for Contemporary Art, Tehran; and Mani Studio, Isfahan. A touchstone for these conversations was Wilkins’s The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on Race, Space, Architecture, and Music, in which he characterizes efforts to challenge normative ideas about space—claiming marginalized locations and making them “something else”—as “spatial-making-do.” Together, we translated this phrase into the Farsi sookhtan va sakhtan, an expression originally lifted from Persian medieval poet Saadi: “Like a candle, I will be consumed by the morning. There is no other way but burning and making.” This colloquialism “burning and making” captures the twin actions required of adaptation and metabolism—opening up, but on our own terms; participating, rather than surviving.