In a radical departure from her usual practice of site-specific
projects, Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s first solo exhibition in London
is a selection of works from the last fifteen years. She describes her
work as a continual process of interrogation and unhinging of
sociopolitical hierarchies and conventions; of seeking to defrock and
de-stabilise systems of representation and authority. By placing the
works alongside each other for the first time, Sadr Haghigian draws
out new perspectives and connects the various debates and questions
raised by them over the years.
In her exhibition for Carroll / Fletcher, Sadr Haghighian’s richly
detailed, collaborative investigations, utilise video, slide
projection, sound, websites, photography and actions to explore issues
as diverse as the control and manipulation of the world’s scarce
resources; consumerism and corporatism; identity, power and class; and
the structures and rituals of the professional art world.
de Paso (2011-12) – originally a site-specific commission for MACBA
in Barcelona – has been re-contextualised to investigate the impact
of the European Union’s deregulation of the aviation industry in
1992 and the connections to the history of London’s water supplies.
In 2000, Sadr Haghighian was awarded the BDI (Cultural Circle of
German Industry) Ars Viva Prize. In response, she invited the Ars Viva
selection panel to a meeting at a bus stop in Berlin. The meeting
became a collective performance around the rituals of knowledge- and
image-transfer, during which Sadr Haghighian gave a lecture, applied a
drawing to the information panel at the bus stop, and handed out slide
viewers from a metal suitcase. The entire situation was filmed and
photographed by an ‘under- cover agent’ from across the street.
In The Microscope (2006) the eyepiece of a microscope from the
Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) is replaced by a speaker
emitting a synthesized vocoder version of Every Breath You Take.
Adjacent to the microscope, a booklet details a conversation between
Sadr Haghighian and Evelyn Fox-Keller, professor of History and
Philosophy of Science at MIT and author of The Biological Gaze (in
which Fox-Keller examines how concepts of looking generate what the
scientist actually sees under the microscope). The conversation
discusses the construction of reality based on what one sees with the
mind’s rather than the body’s eye.
The show also includes the research for Trail (2012), Sadr
Haghighian’s participation in dOCUMENTA (13), supported by Carroll /
Fletcher. For this project, she constructed a footpath on a slope made
of debris from World War II, parallel to the Ehrenmal, a monumental
staircase that connects the park to the city centre and commemorates
the German soldiers who died in both world wars. As the visitor
descends the trail, onomatopoeic animal sounds in different languages
emanate from nearby trees and bushes. The sounds were recorded with
residents of Kassel. www.d13trail.de is a web-based trail that
accompanies the physical one.