*Featured photo: Fariba Boroufar. Untitled -2019 – mixed fiber -110*200 cm – Assembled at the entrance of a house in Kashan. Courtesy of the artist
Fariba Boroufar was born in Tehran in 1974. She graduated in Sculpture from the School of Fine Arts and in Graphic Design from Al-zahra University; she completed her education with an MA in Illustration from Tehran University of Art. She has been working in publishing for a long time and, for 3 years, was an active faculty member of the Architecture Group at Azad University in Mashhad. Until 2014, she participated in photography and illustration group exhibitions and then focused on textile art, experimenting with its connections to the urban fabric. In 2019, Saless Gallery presented her solo exhibition followed by, among others, the participation in the 8th National Sculpture Biennial in Tehran, a group show at Arya Gallery and, in the current year, an exhibition at Maryam Gallery in Kashan. Starting from this latest project, we discovered the poetics of her work and the Fiber art research that lies in it.
What does it mean to be an artist for you Fariba?
In addition to innovation, the artist has the capacity to create and produce works. Innovation means a new look into reality. The artist acts against daily life by examining the reality and changing it, and forms a distinctly new world for his/her audience.
Why did you choose the textile medium as an expressive language?
The textile art is a reminder of the past and memories among the people of Iran. Generally, there is a woven or sewn piece of their ancestors in their houses as a souvenir. That work shows the social, geographical, and traditional state of their era, and generally, there is a story behind it. My enthusiasm for textile commenced from observing the traditional patterns of Khorasan needleworks. Now I view the thread and fabric as flexible materials with remarkably unique expressions resulting from our living culture.
These cubes have hanging anonymous roots. This black mass shows the constructs of modern world and the identity of our past architecture. This work titled Penthouse was completed for exhibiting in 8th national biennale of sculpturing in Tehran. This work is a criticism against the anaemic anonymous buildings that are increasing in cities
What themes does your artistic research investigate?
I make all of my attempts to focus on architecture with weaving technique. Before any project, I study the form and function of the items that I intend to generally display in my architecture works and gradually approach the concepts of my works. My studies focus on my selected topic, i.e. the, Iranian architecture aesthetics. Lack of certainly identified spatial senses, lack of attention to the human and his/her spiritual and mental needs, lack of belonging to space, poor quality of architecture, and neglect of the ecological materials in the present life are questionable. Iranian geometry has always been attracting my attention, and I could create new etudes and patterns by studying and examining it. For instance, by examining an arch, I can approach the difference between surface and geometry. This analysis shows many paths to the themes of my work.
How do you create your works – do you follow a project or let yourself be guided by practice or what?
Generally, my mind pursues the past pure forms and patterns and geometry. The architecture enjoys a main and obvious direction in my view. Therefore, I gather different news and contents that are amusing for me. The theme flashes across my mind for some time until I can form a general idea. Among the performance of great works, I examine combinations of different materials with threads. These small tests and cases can form some parts of main works ideation due to their impromptu weaves. For instance, for displaying a sense of degeneration in one of my experiences, I could form a texture that was very functional in the main work. These exercises are very facilitating and adventuresome. But, ultimately, my ideal works are the projects that put emphasis on my new concern, i.e. presentation of form and geometry of the Iranian architecture that are being forgotten.
Niffar are wooden rooms where farmers of Mazandaran Province (north region of Iran) take rest, store their products, and guard their farms. I attempted to repair two sides of an old farm walls with a weave that is familiar in houses of northern region people.
How are your large tapestries born? What techniques and materials do you use? What are your sources of inspiration?
My source of inspiration is the mental images being formed by my travel to historical buildings of Iran. The sense of belonging to and safety in the entered places helps me to pay heed to details of all surfaces, lights, shadows, and placement of items. Images of sprinkled textiles in the Blue Mosque of Tabriz, the beautiful stucco of “Forumad Mosque”, and painted tiles of “Seljuk Dynasty” are my sources of inspiration. When I attend a valuable place, I think about the presence of work there and what I can create to remind its memories and details. This is an inherent sense. Perhaps, my audience doesn’t have this impression from my works. But, this is my reason and my mission for the production of a work. At the time of mental drawings, I think about the performance of work. I think whether I should weave multiple pieces of work because of weaving limitations, whether I need substructure and construction; whether two-dimensional work is suitable for presentation in this space or a three-dimensional construct can convey the meaning more perfectly, and which type of thread I should use for my work. Generally, in Iran, the natural thread of wool is the most accessible and the most inexpensive one.
From tapestries to large installations, how did you go from two-dimensional works to three-dimensionality? How has your approach to work and space changed in these works?
From the beginning of tapestry work, due to my past experience of illustration, I have been involved in surfaces and patterns in architecture, and I fully designed two-dimensional work. I received my graduate certificate from fine arts school, and then gradually, I created sculptures due to my past sculpturing experiences. Indeed, my mind came into this direction: how I could make a relationship between my production and architecture space. In other words, I thought about how I could form shadows and lights and, on the other hand, how my warning about the protection of buildings could be displayed and how the general audience could interact with it. The creation of sculptures with these materials is complicated. If I can create a soft sculpture for expression of flexibility as a part of my work, I can gain success. Placement of the work in the ancient space contributes to the conceptual and exhibition performance of the work, such as assembled Penthouse work between pillars of Isfahan Jame Mosque. As yet, due to the values of this mosque, the installation has not been permitted. I had to assemble this work and, initially, exhibit it in an inappropriate place in Vahdat Hall, and I could not receive significant feedback. In Jame Mosque, you can comprehend the alert meaning of degenerated horrible constructs surrounding us and the degraded identity.
Some of your works are wearable, a sort of mask, quite a second identity. How do the body and your relationship with it enter your artistic practice and poetics?
Fibres enjoy great flexibility on surfaces and can change the cover, patterns, and even function of surfaces. If they are placed on the body, they can approach the conceptualization. The body medium has different meanings and concepts in cultures. In Iranian culture, the woman’s body has always been covered. My illustrations of the body are not the ultimate ones. They are a kind of frequent evaluation for the presentation change, and I have created no work in this regard. Perhaps, this work partly traces back to the weaving of masks in the beginning of tapestry works.
Penthouse was exhibited in 10th Persbook held in Manouchehri House of Kashan. This work was inspired by old Yakhchal of Kashan. It is based on the traditional architecture. Its black arms show lack of identity in the present modern world.
What are the main difficulties you face in your artistic practice?
My most difficulty concerning this unknown medium as an independent visual work rather than handwork is the presentation of my works. Attendance in galleries and presentation of works is a complicated, difficult path. Installation in national and historical places is hardly permitted due to their values. Undoubtedly, these works can be installed in appropriate places by using some strategies. Currently, I present my works only on social media, although there are limitations since the audience cannot interact with the works. I only assemble illustrations of my works on images of places
How does the public react to your works?
Some audience can make a good interaction with my works and encourage me. The second group are artists and ordinary people who do not view my works as independent and serious works due to the traditional and historical background of rug weaving. They traditionally look for these works and have valuable carpets and rugs in their houses. I am not a traditional weaver. I attempt to display my ideas and concepts with weaves.
What does the artist Fariba Boroufar see and dream about looking to the future?
Textile and architectural heritage is degrading in my country. I hope that the culture of designing and architectural heritage can be revived. The present urban constructs can be performed with respect to the local architecture principles and designs, and our life identity can be improved. And ultimately, I hope I can exhibit my installations in appropriate and historical places.
What does the artist Fariba Boroufar see and dream about looking to the future?
Textile and architecture heritage is degrading in my country. I hope that the culture of designing and architecture heritage can be revived. The present urban constructs can be performed with respect to the local architecture principles and designs and our life identity can be improved. And ultimately, I hope I can exhibit my installations in appropriate and historical places.