Your Games And, Your Gains by Pedram Baldari
Exhibition Runs: June 12 – July 11, 2021
Gallery Hours Starting June 12th: Thursdays-Fridays 1-6pm, Saturdays-Sundays 11-5pm and by appointment.
SooVAC values the health and safety of our community and limits the number of visitors in the gallery, requires masks, and distancing while at SooVAC. Please email for more on our Covid-19 safety measures or to schedule a private appointment to visit the gallery.
Pedram Baldari grew up at the border of the Iran-Iraq war zone, during a time of Kurdish ethnic cleansing, personal and political legitimacy remained in flux and mobility was a daily negotiation. As a result of this socio-political instability, “my body became physically displaced, while remaining psychologically stitched between worlds. As a Kurdish artist now living in the United States, my relationship to country, both past and present, continues to be liminal—existing in a state of in-between-ness. To be Kurdish is to be formless and this idea permeates in both the materials and working methods found within my practice.”
Your Games And, Your Gains is a mediation on the past year and a half, a tumultuous and transformative moment in our collective histories. For Baldari it brought back memories of war, and the prominent role the United States plays in perpetuating systematic racism on the world stage. For him, like many people of color and the immigrant community survival mode became the default setting. The works in this show are stitching together timelines and locations, “home” to “home,” unrest to unrest, warzone to warzone, trauma to trauma and fear to humor. It is his investigation of the signs, symbols, games, icons, commodities and visual baggage, that aid the larger systems of power dynamics in the U.S. and their relationship to war, commerce, global economy and socio-politics that rule our bodies.
All of the works in the show are playful with a sharp edge. A major component of Your Games And, Your Gains is the site-specific installation When the War Ended, We All Wondered: What Should We Do Now!. It invites the viewer into a cornhole game of grandiose portion, military grade sandbags and a room sized wooden throw hole fill the space, ultimately impossible to play with an imposing presence. While the Trader-Foes Series and the Equalizer Series bring a sardonic commentary to the mindset that products and thus consumerism can protect you.
Baldari creates cross cultural investigations by stitching aesthetics, and repurposing metaphors, myths, symbols and signs to deconstruct and de-colonialize the very fabric of his own practice. He brings a strong architectural and design background into the construction of his work, and is very well aware of how forms are not neutral visual elements, rather epistemological and aesthetical systems of legitimizations based on a preferred visual language that is weaponized to maintain the status quo. His mutable materials and ephemeral gestures are activated by participants with both an active and passive presence. The viewer is asked to question their participation in this environment, laughter is often the first entry point into realizing that a broken system is the rejection of humanity in its most vulnerable state.
Pedram Baldari is a Kurdish-Iranian born sculptor, architect and interdisciplinary artist, working in installation, performance art, and social practice. Baldari is an Assistant professor in Studio Art at the University of North Texas, and is based between Minneapolis and Denton, TX. He has been featured in numerous national and international solo and group exhibitions since 2010 in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Turkey, and The U.S; such as Victoria and Albert Museum London 2012, Documenta 13th Video Import-Export program, Video Nomad Tokyo 2015, Art Basel Switzerland 2014, and most recently at the Walker Art Museum. He received a 2012 Magic of Persia and Delfina Foundation Award, Jerome Fellowship Commission for Franconia Sculpture Park 2017, Vermont Studio Center Award 2015-2020, StarDust Fund fellowship for an art residency at Weisman Art Museum, and he was awarded the 2021 spring/summer MacDowell Art Fellowship for a two month Artist Residency at MacDowell Art Colony.
Satisfaction Not Guaranteed and Your Games And, Your Gains grapple with the fall out of U.S. interventions in Iran and the resulting tensions between the two countries. Javadi, Iranian, and Baldari, Kurdish-Iranian, now live in the United States and navigate these issues from multiple perspectives intertwined with both comedy and tragedy, including collaborative elements between the two artists. And even though they are presenting work that is founded on violent histories, it is also full of humor and beauty, as the absurdities of life frequently present a multitude of emotions.
“This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.”
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