January 17 – March 17, 2019
Koffler Gallery
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Curator: Mona Filip

Winter Opening Reception: Thursday, January 17, 2019 | 7–9 PM
Playing Field, A Conversation: Sunday March 10, 2019 | 2 PM  

In her first solo exhibition in Canada, Ghazaleh Avarzamani examines the role of experience, memory, psychology, modern rationality and traditional beliefs in the construction of knowledge. Considering a range of spaces, structures and devices for interactivity, self-development and play, Never Never Land questions the rules and methodologies that shape an individual’s existential outlook.

Examining the impact of games as tools for teaching social conformity and adaptation, Game of Goose (2016-19) and Of Manual (2019) position board games as conceivable master plans. Based on the oldest printed game sheet, Game of Goose is a mural piece mapping medieval spiritualist beliefs and instructing the player on moral, social and religious matters. A layer of rubber mulch – material used as artificial flooring for outdoor playgrounds – lies on the floor mirroring the shape and colour of the textile mural but failing to reflect its patterns. Adding further complexity to the game, the map is embroidered onto kisseh (Middle Eastern washcloth/loofah) revealing a blueprint for the architecture of modern games.

Used as support, the kisseh quietly undermine the ambition of the game itself. As objects meant to clean and remove, the loofahs reassert the ultimate instability of all structures of power. A similar warning is echoed by Of Manual, a textile work that initially merges all classic game boards and pieces into an all-encompassing arsenal, then, quartered and scrambled, restricts the player from ever holding the key to all possible moves.

Catch as Catch Can (2014) also counteracts the grasping intentions of games with the defeating properties of the washcloth. The work’s title and its embroidered designs suggest the actions that aim to hold and submit one’s opponent. Original instructions have been removed, reinforcing the notion of struggle to retain and build knowledge without fully available content. The lack of guiding information is conspicuous in the sculptural installation Fortune Tellers (2016), which references the Origami paper game of chance meant to predict participants’ future. The repetition of form and absence of message invests the objects with an antithetical role, opening up endless possibilities.

Two new works undermine the promise of playgrounds as sites of exploration intended to prepare children for navigating life’s rough terrains. The ink drawing series Regarding Playground (2018) skeptically examines the structures’ potential as prescriptive designs for self-reliance, while Strange Temporalities (2019) – a sculptural re-assemblage of a deconstructed slide – embodies the failed assurance of safe enjoyment. Exposing the fragmented nature of awareness, both works convey the unlikeliness of ever discerning a full picture.

The colour blue purposely dominates the exhibition as a reminder of the optical phenomenon known as atmospheric perspective. Viewed from a distance, an object’s clarity diminishes while its colour begins blending with the blue-sky background. Perceptions are constantly distorted and the impossibility of clear vision pervades in the exhibition. With Desire is Tender is Love is Love (2019), Avarzamani memorializes the impossibility of a clean slate in the form of two monumental, translucent soap blocks. The human condition entails a continuous process of learning, unlearning, forgetting and remembering. Exploring these ideas alongside notions of growth and erasure, accomplishment and failure, Avarzamani aims to uncover the paradoxical realities beneath the surface of society and its traditions, educational methodologies, individual aspirations and cultural utopias.

Ghazaleh Avarzamani (b. 1980, Tehran) was trained in painting at Azad Art University in Tehran, followed by a Master of Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins, London, UK and has exhibited in venues internationally since graduating. Selected solo exhibitions include Ab-Anbar Gallery in 2016, Asia House London in 2014, Etemad Gallery, Tehran and Light Gallery, London in 2013. Avarzamani has been the recipient of the Red Mansion Art Prize in 2013 and Ontario Art Council award in 2017; she curated ‘Jabberwocky’ exhibition at Ab-Anbar in 2015. She currently lives and works in Toronto, and is represented by Ab-Anbar Gallery in Tehran.

The artist would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for their support.

Image: Ghazaleh Avarzamani, Fortuneteller (installation detail), moulded USG hydrocal, 2016.


Koffler Gallery Regular Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 12 PM – 6 PM | Saturday & Sunday, 11 AM – 5 PM | Closed Mondays, Tuesdays & statutory holidays | Admission is FREE. Every Saturday 2 PM FREE Exhibition Tour (during regular exhibition hours).