This is Just an Image

Empire, MI

DISPATCH BY: PEYMAN SHAFIEEZADEH

All places are subject to a multi-layered and media-frenzied stereotyping. Even when places change, these images continue to affect people’s perceptions regardless of where in the world they are looking from.

My artistic practice revolves around this notion of perceptions and constructed realities which exist everywhere; in the U.S., in Iran (where I live and work), all over the world. Ultimately, perceptions and preconceived notions always play a major role in the way that others initially understand you and the way that you understand others.

This is my first time visiting the U.S. and it has been a series of anticipations and surprises. Perhaps the most vivid memory of this visit is the reactions of people I meet who discover where I was from and then look at my work with the filter of my nationality. These reactions of course, were wrought with political and social concerns.

When invited to participate in CULTURUNNERS' program in Detroit, a city that sometimes feels like a prisoner of its own distorted projection of itself, I decided to make a new body of work called 'THIS IS JUST AN IMAGE'. Upon first glance, the works on paper may seem rather simple exercises of perspective drawing. But I approach my works with much more intent and purpose. The image you have of yourself in your mind, and not only of yourself, but of me as well, and of the world around you, of all that you believe in, all these images and perceptions are based on your understanding of subject matters and meanings. These are things that I tell myself everyday and every moment to remind myself that all that I think I know are simply images that have built my life.

I believe that the most complicated issues can have the simplest answers. And the simplest issues can have the most complicated of answers. If beliefs are informed and altered by these images, then it is very frightening when the machine producing these images is at the hands of others.

That said, I use the simple structure of perspective drawing in my work to try and address this; all these pictures are simply images, not beliefs (meanings/realities). And I want people looking at them to realize that these are clearly only 2-D images (literally and intellectually). They are drawn not only in perspective but also using angles. When I depict images of world leaders, or iconic photographs that the media has assigned to particular conflicts, I want the people overlooking to know and see from their viewpoint, that these are only simple images and that they hold no actual power.

I developed this idea of structured images to create a mural which I then installed on the CULTURUNNERS RV and traveled with fellow artists, John Mireles and Stephen Stapleton North across the state to Lake Michigan and the town of Empire. The mural will remain on the RV as it travels west over the course of the summer and will become the site for conversations about perceptions between the Middle East and U.S. with invited guests and passengers.


Peyman Shafieezadeh completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tehran’s Azad University in 2007 and currently works in Tehran, Iran. He has exhibited his work in numerous institutions and biennials in Iran and abroad, including in the 5th Beijing Art Biennial, the 4th Guanlan International Print Biennial, and Bulgaria’s 4th Façade Video Festival. In July 2015, he completed his first international artist residency at OMI International Arts Center in Hudson, NY. Working in such various mediums as drawing, printmaking, video and installation, Shafieezadeh’s practice challenges society’s own perceptions of national symbols, cultural conventions and public figures.

ARTIST: Peyman Shafieezadeh

DATE: 17th - 24th July 2015

Drawings from Shafieezadeh's series, This is Just an Image were shown at a special CULTURUNNERS public program and exhibition at Red Bull House of Art on Sunday 19th July. As the second 'STATION' on its East-West roadtrip, CULTURUNNERS in Detroit was curated by Ava Ansari and Lila Nazemian.