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lie to me

I recently spoke with an artist living and working in Tehran. He gave an account of his work that was complex, sophisticated and plagued with inconsistency. I realised that it was a fiction – a parallel universe manufactured to shield his work from the scrutiny of the authoritarian government. He was confident that the ponderous conceptual art crowd, those clever code breakers, would find their way through his bullshit.

I can’t show the work here, obviously. But I think I found the bullshit more interesting anyway.

In Iran all cultural and social practices are politicized, and artists are forced to accept the role of self censor. But I wonder: did the existence of this decoy discourse mean that the words that might naturally surround this work are never spoken? And if so, what did that mean for his practice? Had the work of articulating a false discourse added to a frustration that impoverishes art by turning it into manifesto?

In any case, his false vision was artful. He had authored himself as an unreliable narrator, and without a wink he pointed to his true concerns by configuring his lies just so.