Project room 2012, Bologna, contemporary concept

Navid’s work reviews his experience in-between two cultures. He has developed an esoteric language of signs and symbols from multiple mythologies and histories. This untitled work is composed of a customarily symbolic language referencing ancient Hellenic sculpture, Islamic architecture, Zoroastrian motifs and contemporary popular culture. Typically Azimi makes use of both traditional materials and contemporary objects, here for instance he juxtaposes stone carving and cardboard boxes. Each individual element is laden with meaning, coalescing to represent today’s society as Azimi perceives it.

Azimi’s complex iconography is formed by the interaction of the body, history and mythologies. He seeks parallels between his two cultures and addresses their differences by exploring the tensions, traumas and fears of today’s multicultural societies. Azimi explores dissonant religious concepts and consciously combines Eastern geometry and a Western celebration of the body that directly represent his duality.

The installation is composed of six distinct, heavily symbolic, elements. The floor is carpeted with cardboard boxes on which is placed a stand composed of bricks and bearing the ruined bust of a Roman Venus. Behind the sculpture is the drawing of a mosque’s interior, the outlines draughted from barbed wire. The Venus is physically attached to the mosque’s elevations by tense red ropes that also bind the sculpture. Facing the Venus is a composite masculine figure of a mummified Golden Eagle draped with a two-meter long textile printed with the outline of the mythical Cypress Tree of Zoroastria. Each of these components create a multi-layered interactive space.

Gender is an important theme in Azimi’s work and he often uses the Roman Venus as representation of the female. The subjugation of women throughout history is a concern of the artist’s and his choice of a broken Venus without extremities is intentional, representing as it does the suffering of women at the hands of socio-religious patriarchal systems. The masculine is embodied by a figural wall hanging placed directly in front of the Venus, creating tension between the two sexes.

The threat of violence permeates Azimi’s work, here it can be seen in the injured bust, the rope constraints, the barbed outlines of the architectural schema, the menacing male figure and the savagery of the eagle. To Azimi violence can take both positive and negative forms, it can be the protective instinct of the mother, the charge of carnal desire, the cruelty of religion, and the barbarism of war.

Faith is another theme that recurs frequently, the artist was raised in a country that still plays host to some pagan ideologies of the ancient pre-Islamic Zoroastrian faith. The Zoroastrian approach to death and sexuality differs vastly from the dominant Islamic Shiite system, and both again contrast with the Catholicism and Roman Paganism of Azimi’s current Italian base. The disparities between these faiths are symbolized by the masculine figure of the Zoroastrian Magus, the Roman Venus and the outlines of Islamic architectural features drawn on the wall.

The metaphysical is also a concern of the artist’s, with death and the soul featuring often. Here the mummified Golden Eagle depicts death, and the notion of the preservation of the dead, whilst the bust of Venus represents the soul and life.

This installation is an autobiographical piece highlighted by the use of cardboard boxes. To Azimi there are parallels between these boxes and the human mind, a receptacle for ideas, impressions, thoughts and opinions rather than objects.  By disassembling the boxes and laying them on the floor as the platform for the many motifs and symbols that comprise the installation Azimi not only presents the many different elements coexisting in his world, he exposes the confusion they engender.