22 August 2023
This Bitter Earth
Nazanin Noroozi examines the fragmented
nature of archives and historical memory
by Kate Mothes
“I have to see a thing a thousand times before I can see it once,” Thomas Wolfe wrote in his posthumously published novel You Can’t Go Home Again. His characters grapple with a fast-changing society, the illusion of prosperity, and the bewildering passage of time. For artist Nazanin Noroozi, repetition and the nature of seeing forms the focus of a practice inviting viewers into a series of fragmented narratives examining history and modes of cultural transmission.
Noroozi’s recent body of work titled This Bitter Earth combines found footage and archival images from viral news stories that she composes into paper artworks. Home movies of a childhood birthday party in Iran sit alongside documentation of the calamitous Port of Beirut explosion in 2020, in Lebanon; the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 by the Iranian government in 2020; and the withdrawal of foreign military from Afghanistan in 2021 as the last plane departed.
Reflecting on ideas of instability and displacement, Noroozi juxtaposes tender family photographs with archive footage of environmental catastrophes, social upheaval, and war, sometimes overlaid with technical diagrams or lo-fi graphics from early computer games. Differing perspectives emerge through the use of video, photography, printmaking, and spectral, hand-painted films. She questions and challenges the documentation itself, often reworking the same image in various ways to recontextualize events or present alternative versions of history.
Check out Noroozi’s films Purl and The Riptide, the latter a visual short story based on Super-8 movies that the artist’s father took in post-revolution Iran. Find more work on her website and Instagram.
© Nazanin Noroozi, courtesy of the artist
Header image: Detail of Kabul 210816 #1, 2023. Pigmented linen pulp and abaca on cotton base sheet, 22 x 30 inches