Pejvak’s “If Need Be”
              Xenia Benivolski
              The slippery narratives in “If Need Be” by Pejvak, an artist collective formed of Felix Kalmenson and Rouzbeh Akhbari, blend fact and fiction. Working as intermediaries, Pejvak channel a larger collective—of artists, writers, authors, playwrights, composers, miniaturists, calligraphers, and translators both imaginary and real, dead and alive—with whom they appear to collaborate across the centuries. Their work fills historical gaps with selective, hyper-surreal auto-fictions, forging new myths from overlapping narrative elements that hint at the bio-political agency of water, residue, plant life, and people. In the entrance to the first exhibition hall is Cold-Chain Logistics (2021), a cold, sweating pipe that runs around the perimeter of a small bridge leading to a half-closed roll-up door reminiscent of those on water-delivery trucks. Step into the rectangular metal loop, and you are enveloped by the smell of copper and iron. The scent, diffused by the evaporating water on the surface of the pipe, conjures associations with blood, the earth, and the cosmos. Metal alloys have also been the subject of much local conflict in areas of Soviet industrialization and resource extraction. Cold-Chain Logistics thus establishes the tone of an exhibition that connects multiple landscapes, photographs, and sites of interest throughout eastern Eurasia ...
              Kamrooz Aram and Iman Issa’s “Lives of Forms”
              Vivian Sky Rehberg
              The title of Kamrooz Aram and Iman Issa’s “Lives of Forms,” and the work included in it, is not inspired by French art historian Henri Focillon’s 1934 study Vie des formes, as far as I know. Yet after exploring this kempt trove of paintings, sculptures, and displays, installed in separate galleries devoted to each artist, the art-history geek in me found hope in Focillon’s claim that formal relationships within and among artworks order and serve as a metaphor for the universe. In this universally chaotic period, with this astute artist pairing, curators Silvia Franceschini and Tim Roerig kindle still-combustible frictions between aesthetics and politics by exquisitely accentuating form in relation to the content it conveys. “Lives of Forms” asserts that aesthetic form is always imbricated in the socio-political realities of historical moments. The space in which the artists’ works overlap is at a threshold atop the central staircase, just outside the gallery entrance. There sits a white, ring-shaped bench where you can listen to a disembodied text-to-speech software-generated voice deliver Issa’s looping sound piece The Revolutionary (2010). While doing so, you can gaze toward or away from an interior portico in which Aram’s trim collage of a ceramic vessel ...
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