Shirin Sabahi (b. 1984)
Swede Home (1966/1973/1975/2009)
DV PAL video with sound, color, English voice over, converted from 8mm films, 14 minutes
Shirin Sabahi's work evolves from 8-mm found footage taken by Jan Edman (1928), a retired Swedish engineer who traveled to Iran nearly 15 times between 1966 and 1979 when master plans for modernization of the country were at the forefront. On behalf of a Swedish consulting and engineering company and commissioned by various Iranian state-owned and private industries, he visited different Iranian cities for the purpose of realizing industrial projects. In Swede Home, Sabahi incorporates three reels of Edman's films from Iran of the '60s and the '70s. In the video installation, the audience can choose between the two narrators: one is Edman himself giving a commentary on his films from Iran more than thirty years later; the other is the artist's alter ego; a photographer whom upon visiting the site of the former Tehran slaughterhouse Ð which Edman's company was involved in its construction Ð unfolds the history of the piece of land that the slaughterhouse was once located in. Edman's narration is linear and often corresponds to the image whereas the other narration is more detached. It follows the transformation of the slaughterhouse to a culture house after the 1979 revolution and a target of the systemized land grab in the Tehran of the millennium. While the cameraman's narration addresses the longing for past and the arbitrariness of memory, the photographer's narration employs the location of the slaughterhouse as the space of the transference of this non-lived past. Accompanied by a slide show of the site's current condition, past and present, real and fictive come together and make us wonder about the future changes in the district and in a broader sense in urban areas as manifestations of social and economical transformations that occur to nation states.