Nazafarin Lotfi Dreams Up a Borderless Future

Nazafarin Lotfi Dreams Up a Borderless Future

TUCSON, Ariz. — Constructed and divided environments essentially become conversations hinged on electrical power, of which borders are generally a central manifestation. For Tucson-based multidisciplinary artist Nazafarin Lotfi, this romantic relationship to land and landscape — and the strategies it is constructed and divided, precisely in the Southwest — illuminate the pressure between the normal earth and the entire world manipulated by individuals.

“The border was appealing to me as an individual who carries the border inside herself,” Lotfi told Hyperallergic in an interview, relating her experiences as a man or woman growing up in Iran and as somebody who immigrated to the United States, and the parallels and distinctions to the natural environment she at this time resides in. “I have constantly wished there ended up more intersectional conversations all-around border crossing and borders in normal.” 

Nazafarin Lotfi, “Maps of No Return” (2022), colored pencil and collage on paper, 18 inches x 15 inches 
Nazafarin Lotfi, Maps of No Return (2022) colored pencil and collage on paper, 18 inches x 15 inches 

Borders, their birth, and their fortification are inextricably connected to and perpetuated by colonization, imperialism, and nationalism. In Western art record, fabricated representations of “wilderness” and “vacant” landscapes in the United States enabled, emboldened, and endorsed manifest future and western enlargement, developing a narrative that if these lands had been vacant of peoples (which of system, they were being not), then they are for the taking.

These investigations led Lotfi to review her own cultural ordeals concerning land, landscape, and architecture, and how those people can be malignant kinds of power disguised by means of natural beauty.  “I started out questioning what was the romance in between landscape and architecture in Iranian lifestyle,” she said. “Manmade spaces versus organic spaces — these concepts of id are designed in connection to both of those.”  

Nazafarin Lotfi, Counter-Landscape (2022), coloured pencil on paper, archival pigment print on watercolor paper, 20 inches x 25 inches (remaining), 20 inches x 35 inches (ideal)

Over the earlier 3 many years, Lotfi has turned her awareness to Persian gardens. Gardens, as quasi-utopian areas, maintain within just them domination and maneuvering of what is “natural” into what is preferred. In her 2022 series Maps of No Return, Lotfi uses collage and coloured pencil on paper to map out topographies of imagined and historical gardens. These performs middle on colonial sorts of beauty, symmetry, and a form of handle above nature — which of program, involves this concept of the border. “I call all my drawings maps, and these maps are truly useless in terms of offering you a unique location, but they’re useful in setting up an essence of enclosures — the selection a single action to building inside and outdoors, the self and other,” she reported. 

Lotfi’s operate explores the binary of borders as effectively. In her Counter Landscapes sequence, she shifts the map drawing to one that upends the colonial structures of the backyard and permits it to be reflective of the organic ecosystem alone, referencing colours identified in the Southwest location, as properly as rubbings of branches, rocks, and other organic materials collected in the Sonoran Desert. By drawing interest to and highlighting borders, Lotfi wedges a sharp critique, and in numerous approaches, erodes the foundations on which borders are constructed, developing an imagined borderless upcoming. 

Installation see of Nazafarin Lotfi’s A Backyard garden to Build (2022) at College Galleries, Illinois Point out University 

In A Yard to Build, Lotfi creates a url among the system and land, monumentalizing and most likely memorializing the horizontal variety – that is usually linked with inferiority. “The deceased, the wounded, the useless, the feminine — in European custom there’s the male vertical hero and the wounded is lying down, the reclining female, the animal.” These papier-mâché sculptures look like shrouded figures, hauntingly spread out on the ground, blurring the line of floor and overall body. Nevertheless Lotfi is monumentalizing this horizontal room and what that place can represent, she does it in a medium that is at odds with the concept of monuments — paper, putting an ephemerality on the get the job done as a complete. Her skillful navigation of advanced histories, territories, and identities intersect in will work that force the viewer to take into consideration separations of lands and cultures through nation-making and ability.

Nazafarin Lotfi, “Traces” (2021), papier-mâché, gesso, ink, colored pencil, graphite, and acrylic paint, 18 inches x 27 inches x 57 inches