Canned Like, Etemad Gallery, 2015
The title of the project Canned-Like, which was a combination of an installation along with the performance of a piece of music, is based on the word “conservatory” (the word for canned food in Farsi is “conserve”). The main concept of the project is the state of human beings in the Middle East. Canned-Like refers to the conditions of someone in a closed room, awaiting the opening of a door that would allow him access to new opportunities. His starting point is not the same as everyone else’s. He will not be able to discover his talents as soon as the door is opened; instead he has to put all his efforts into first opening the door before he can reach the same starting point as others.
The exhibition begins with a performance. The audience first witnesses a shocking scene: classical music can be heard coming out of three burlap sacks in a corner of the gallery. The situation continues for five minutes. At the end of the piece the performers step out of the sacks and this is when the audience realizes that not only are they not musical performers, but that there is no sign of musical instruments either. The people hiding in the sacks are Afghan refugees holding shovel sticks; people who seek refuge in Iran from the ongoing war in their own country, and who have to make ends meet through physical labor.
They represent potential artists who cannot actualize their talents due to their circumstances, and by putting them in burlap sacks the artist makes reference to their canned-like condition. It reflects not only the manner in which they cross the border, but their entire lives: a life limited to a can without any opportunity for growth and development. Perhaps they could become real performers if they could share in the wealth of their land.