Exhibition - Body Double: The Safarani Sisters

Sunday, Jan 9, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.

Morris Museum
6 Normandy Heights Road
Morristown, NJ 07960

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This exhibition features the work of identical twin Iranian artists Bahareh and Farzaneh Safarani in their first solo museum exhibition, opening on November 12, 2021. As interdisciplinary artists and collaborators, their creative practice exists at the intersection of visual art, new media art, and performance. The exhibition highlights their studio work, charting a path from their signature “video-paintings”—video overlays of choreographed movement projected onto figurative oil-on-canvas paintings—to new pieces that reflect the fluidity of their outlook. On view are twelve video-paintings, one oil painting, a site-specific installation incorporating augmented reality, and a short film created expressly for this exhibition that documents the artists’ unique creative process. The exhibition opening will be preceded by a VIP preview event on Wednesday, November 10.

The exhibition begins with recent work that affirms the Safarani Sisters’ experimentation with video projection and traditional painting to elicit mood and emotion, including Blue Curtain (2017), Remember (2018), Puppet Dance (2019), Puppeteer (2019), Reflection (2019) and Beneath the Breath (2020). These represent scenes from a continuum, a narrative portraying the growth and evolution of a character depicted through this ongoing body work. Seven new works have been created for this exhibition, including two large pieces—Unravelling Ceremony (2021) and Umbilical Cord (2021)—and four smaller works in series—Perpetual Dance, Sanctuary of Her, The Moment of Comprehension, and Rapture of Dance (all 2021)—that, when installed together, suggest sequential images from a film strip or, with the video overlay, scenes from a movie, further reinforcing the overarching of narrative themes in the sisters’ work. The new, unifying element in these pieces is the imagery of a red rope, symbolizing both connectivity and boundary.

The red rope becomes a physical presence in the site-specific installation. The walls, floor, and ceiling of this room are painted black, creating a womb-like space, with a circle of red rope suspended from the ceiling and an overlay of augmented reality. Extending their experimentation with digital technology further, the sisters bring the experiential effects of their video-paintings into the real and virtual worlds, blurring the boundaries.

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, the Morris Museum will host a VIP event on Wednesday, November 10 that includes an artist meet-and-greet, a panel discussion, a documentary film, and other festivities. The panel discussion features the artists and Roya Khadjavi, Curator and Art Consultant, Roya Khadjavi Projects, New York; and will be moderated by Mitra Abbaspour, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Princeton University Art Museum. The film, Two Rooms, One Key, was directed by Geoff Poister with the Safarani Sisters and is a documentary about the artists that incorporates fictional elements. The film will also be screened at the Members Preview on Thursday, November 11.

Born in 1990 in Tehran, Bahareh and Farzaneh Safarani earned their BFA in Painting from the University of Tehran in 2013. Shortly thereafter they began their collaboration and moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where they earned their MFA in Studio Art from Northeastern University in 2016. Both sisters live and work in Boston.

Exhibition Date: November 12, 2021 – April 24, 2022

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