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Chahargah Art Installation

Anahita Mosayebi (b. 1985)

Chahargah, 2023

Ceramics, starched cotton, light

10 x 10 x 8 ft.

Chahargah is an installation utilizing ceramics, starched cotton fibre and light that draws our attention to the essential ambiguity of emotional experience. The installation proposes that emotions are not static or objective; they are a complex production that changes depending on the context, order, and history of our experience. Improvisation in Persian Traditional music can be used as an analogy to explore the complexity of both experiencing emotions and evoking them through art. 

Chahargah is cube-like and translucent; it is a multilayered space arranged into several pathways as parallel streams, forming a symmetrical, centrifugal twist. The pathways provide four distinct environments referring to four emotions: anxiety, traumatic grief, joy, and shame. There are hundreds of ceramic pieces suspended from the ceiling in each corridor. The position of the ceramics to the body, the size, shape and colour of the pieces, the way pieces are connected, and the possibility of making sound by the intentional and unintentional touch of the audience varies.

In Chahargah, emotion is converted from concepts and objects back into bodily experiences that can be improvised and re-composed as a single instrument or a whole orchestra.  Emotions are not an external thing that attaches to us. They happen between us and our environment, placing us in the world. Experiencing emotions in our body is always an abstract and slippery moment, like an improvised music piece played through the audience’s presence. It cannot be shown visually but must be experienced in how it can change the body's improvised responses and interactions with the environment.

Chahargah, in the Persian language, is a combination of the words for "Four” (Chahar) and “position” (Gah)."  Gah (گاه) is a suffix that can be added to nouns to indicate both position in time and place.

Chahargah is the name of one of the twelve dastgahs or musical modes or scales, of traditional Persian music. Meaning 'pattern' or 'set of directions' a dastgah is a compositional unit, like major and minor in western music, that can change the affect and experience of the piece. It is used as the basis for composition and improvisation. Chahargah incorporates the most varied emotions amongst all the dastgahs, from epic and dancing compositions to sad and fearful ones.

Photo Credit:

Katy Whitt

TaLeesha Mahe

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