The Jacques Tatilike scenes that Paulien Oltheten encountered in Russia and Iran are wonderful observations of perseverance. Snow piles, posts and fences: the obstacles that people face as they move around on a daily basis are numerous. In Isfahan, Iranians try to maneuver their bicycles and shopping carts through much too narrow openings between two posts, while in Samara, Russia, hovercraft passengers negotiate rickety steps in their big snowshoes.
The parallel worlds in the two countries mirror one another. In split screen, we see the rivers in the two cities transformed into new public space. You can walk on the Volga because it’s frozen, and on the bed of the Zayandeh Rud in Isfahan because it has dried up due to climate change. A man uses the riverbed as a quiet place for a phone call, while ice fishermen patiently wait for a catch. Placed side by side in the same frame, these scenes tell a wider story. [IDFA 2019]
Shown at IDFA Amsterdam (NL) 2019; Museum of Modern Art Moscow (RU) 2019; AG Gallery Tehran (IR), 2019; Victoria gallery Samara (RU) 2018; Galerie les Filles du Calvaire (FR) 2020.