Stainless Mirror Steel, Wood, Shelf, “Mental Essences” (Shampoo and Conditioner bottles), Iranian Flag Towel, American Flag Towel, Towel Rack, Shower Head, Shower Faucet, Shower Drain, Fishing Lines (Black), .50 Caliber BMG Bullets, .38 Caliber Automatic Bullets, Pipes. Collaboration between Pedram Baldari and Nooshin Hakim, Installation, 4’x8’x8’, 2021.
The Mental Essence Series
Andy Sturdevant in his article finds this piece as the following:
“The centerpiece of the exhibition is the collaboration, This is the Real Shower. Like many of these pieces, it references the body in space, and how the body can be physically and psychologically displaced between two realities. In this case, it comes from a body memory of Pedram’s from childhood, growing up on the border of Iraq and Iran during the protracted war and the genocidal campaigned waged on the Kurdish people by the Iraqi Baath Party, and the military conflicts between exiled Kurds in Iraq and the Iranian government that bookended the Iran-Iraq 8 years of War. During intense periods of the conflict, when chemical attacks on civilians were common, an alarm would come over the radio, and people were instructed to duck into showers, crouch down and turn on the water. The water would repel the gas, or at least dampen it. It was a little protective bubble, a domestic place of safety and relaxation marshalled into service as a hallucinatory chamber of potential horrors. That shower is recreated, with a stream of .50 and .338 caliber bullets raining down from the showerhead, suspended by fishing wire into an endless hall of mirrors below you. The mirror work itself references an ancient Iranian mosaic technique using cut glass to create complex, refractive surfaces. It’s from that perspective that the wire disappears and you’re thrown into a bottomless abyss, the bullets rushing toward you, and the strings that tether those bullets -- literally tethers them! -- to a sense of artifice vanishes from below, subsumed into an image from a dream. It is a dreamlike environment, or a nightmare, one which emphasizes the subliminal effects of violence, which can creep through a society like a colorless, odorless gas. You can only find so many ways to shield yourself, and many of those recommended methods have a whiff of the absurd to them. The name of the piece itself, offered either as a statement of fact or a sort of gaslighting, suggests a difficulty separating fact and fiction. There is a little bit of a meta-joke here, as well, imagining the Twin Cities sporting goods superstore where Pedram and a colleague purchased all these rounds of automatic weapon ammunition-- a man of Middle Eastern origin in the white, suburban citadel of heartland Second Amendment good-time arms dealing, buying a bunch of bullets for unclear reasons, and on a St. Olaf purchasing card, to boot.”