Dark Silence In Suburbia

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ashkan Honarvar


A collaboration with the Dutch photographer Claudia Crobatia. In this project we explored the idea of a possessed cat through visualizing unknown forces that deform an animals physical form and behaviour. The concept of possession came out of our interest in human relationships with their pets, which sometimes tend to become slightly obsessive, no matter how lovingly.


Where does evil come from? Is it unique to humans? Or has it always been here on earth or in the universe? Was it perhaps even here before the first humans developed? Physical matter has always been and will always be in our universe. Take, for instance, the calcium in our bones, the metals in our cars or the keratin in our skins. Everything was always here, so everything is everything! But does this theory apply to good and evil? Could our awareness thereof also always have been here on earth or the universe?


These photographs from 1884 depict patients from an insane asylum. They originally served to reveal a connection between the patients’ disturbed state of mind and their physical appearance during the first years of society’s interest in psychology. During this period, photography was used to register certain medical situation and conditions. Over the years, we have uncovered many mysteries about the human psyche, but we have only just scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the mind.


An ode to perfection. Deconstruction and reassembly of Michelangelo’s famous sculptures that depicted various fictional and living persons with precise, but artificially perfect anatomies.  The perfect body was said to be based on certain mathematical formulas and ratios that looked absolutely realistic at first glance, but were actually anatomically incorrect.

Terra Nullius

A Latin expression derived from the Roman law meaning ‘land that belongs to no one’.This phrase regained popularity at the end of the 1800s when white settlers started stealing land around the world: in Canada and the USA, in South America and South Africa, in North Africa and Siberia, in central Asia and central Australia. The extermination of indigenous people produced no man’s land which, according to the doctrine of terra nullius, gave the white settlers the right to occupy it.
At the time, most whites believed non-whites were inferior racially i.e. doomed to be annihilated anyway. They could refer to Charles Darwin to back this up. In Chapter 5 and 6 of the Decent of Man (1871) he sees the extermination of indigenous peoples as a natural part of the evolutionary process. Animal species have always exterminated one and another; savages have always exterminated one and another. So now ‘civilised’ people will exterminate the savage races.

Creed - Apocalypse


Chapter I 




Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chinese word Laogai means reform labour. Modelled on the Soviet Gulags, the Laogai system was created in the early 1950s to control the Chinese population and stifle dissent. Between three and five million prisoners are currently incarcerated in over a thousand camps scattered across China. Laogai do more than detain and reform convicts and dissidents; the Chinese government profits handsomely from the system. Unpaid prisoners provide a free source of labour at prison-run factories, farms, workshops and mines, enabling these ‘businesses’ to reap huge profits.
Starting in the 1980s, the government began harvesting prisoners’ organs. Typically for a profit. This macabre practice has since become commonplace. The prisoners are now live organ donors who, when necessary, can be immediately executed and the organs removed. Involuntary organ donation is illegal under Chinese law, as it is against Chinese tradition and culture, which attaches symbolic, life-affirming importance to the kidney and heart.


These luxurious figurines originally depicted scenes from the daily life of the Bourgeoisie around 1700. Their shiny white skins display a pure and almost god-like serenity and their clothing and jewellery shimmer in the light. Ashkan Honarvar has dissected these luxury items to create new compositions that have no real identity, yet still radiate wealth.


These found images from the 1950s depict a clean, controlled reality. Everything in the images looks staged and despite the cheerful colours the mood is cold and distant. This contradiction of colour and feeling inspired Ashkan Honarvar to create this series of collages. By introducing anomalous elements he has accentuated this feeling of alienation.

The Void

Various human-organic forms replace the central figure in these collages of a leader, his entourage and supporters. The silhouette of the figure almost blends with the background nearly becoming invisible.By melting and mixing Adolf Hitler with his surroundings Ashkan Honarvar wishes to accentuate the fact that it takes more than a single person to cause annihilation. The collective mind is also accountable for the actions of its government.


This project is based on individualism and democracy in modern day China. China has ceaselessly criticized individualism for the past 40 years. In 1949, Mao Zedong wrote an article attacking the U.S. government's White Paper in which Secretary of State Dean Acheson had said: We place our hope in China's democratic individualists. Mao responded by saying: We should oppose democratic individualism with democratic collectivism. In the 1950s, criticism of individualism was an important part of the ideological remoulding movement for the intellectuals. Ever since then, individualism has been interpreted as representing the selfish, class nature of the bourgeoisie, against which the Communist Party has counterpoised proletarian collectivism and reliance on the Party.


The original painting used in these collages are from the world famous Dutch painter Frans Hals (1580-1666). The fascination for how this painter visualised light and colour led Ashkan Honarvar to these collages where he literally dissects the paintings.


Ashkan Honarvar has chosen to use the typical American cowboy and rodeo sport as a symbol for the country USA. One of Americas main agenda and characteristics is it struggle to democratize countries in the middle east. What is democracy, and is this the true form of freedom? Can a rider tame a country? Or does the outsider disturb the flourishing a country self needs to create? Has the country space and time to heal it’s own wounds or does the outsider only inflict deeper wounds? * All collages are handmade!

Faces - 2

This series constitutes Ashkan Honarvar’s search for an identity and the physical and psychological wounds inflicted on soldiers by war with the exception of Faces 3 and 5. Ashkan Honarvar used existing pictures of young First World War soldiers with facial mutilations.

Ashkan Honarvar was born in Shirz, Iran in 1980.
Works and lives in The Netherlands and Norway.

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