Reading Through the Gaps

Over the course of a lengthy and meticulously documented investigation, the artist has reconstructed the history of an archaeological fragment the “Head of a Guard”, from the ruins of the Achaemenid palace of Persepolis, in Iran, which was looted from the site in 1936, acquired by a Canadian museum in the early 1950s, stolen, rediscovered and finally returned to its country of origin—only to inexplicably disappear again. 

On the floor of the room, a fragmented life-size replica of the large ancient limestone piece from which the “Head of a Guard” was cut is placed. Spread out on the floor, the pieces show the process in which the large limestone was broken into small pieces to facilitate its transportation and dissemination. Made by 3D-printing, the pieces are covered by a mixture of crude oil, limestone and resin, and do not show any details of the original relief to which they refer. Rather, they only evoke it in shape and size, insisting instead on the irretrievable loss caused by its forced dislocation and subsequent disappearances. 

In addition to the floor sculpture, there is a large black-and-white photograph of a reassembled shredded document, in reference to the numerous intelligence reports and documents destroyed by U.S. embassy officers in Tehran prior to being held as hostages by student militants.  The Iranian revolutionaries, being aware of the US political interventions in Iran, meticulously recomposed these documents piece by pieces. Here, the artist draws a parallel: between human and object hostages, and their role in international politics; and between the U.S. embassy seizure by Iranian students and the ancient relief seizure.