I enjoyed stumbling across this simple but striking artwork on display at the Pi Artworks gallery in 55 Eastcastle Street by Oxford Circus, London, back in July this year.
The gallery commissioned artist Parastou Forouhar to create a new version of her work, Written Room [1999 – ongoing] at the gallery.
Forouhar left her native Iran to study in Offenbach, Germany due to the withdrawal of freedoms she was subjected to after the Iranian revolution, and she has remained a vocal critic of the regime ever since.
Her work examines, “the power structures within certain authoritarian political systems, paying attention to how they block oppositional discourse from entering the public sphere.”
The gallery explains the work:
Written Room is one such work that makes the Western gaze on the Oriental its central theme. Over the course of three days, the artist will ink the gallery’s white walls and floor with what appears to be sprawling Persian script. The disjointed text meanders around the space’s uneven surfaces with no stable vertical or horizontal axis. Its legibility is further undermined by a collection of Ping-Pong balls, also inscribed with Persian script, that have been released onto the floor.
Written Room mirrors the look of Persian script, yet it is almost as incomprehensible to those who can read the language as those who can’t. By defying visitors’ attempts to assign it meaning, the script remains locked into its irreducible pictorial graphicness in which meaning cannot be grasped.