30 April 2020
- Artist — Pouria Khojastehpay
- Interview by — Violeta Dai
1.How are you and who are you?
I am doing good, thank you for asking. I'm a Dutch-Iranian research-based artist working from The Netherlands but born in Iran.
2.What’s crime for you? What is the unknown part of crime?
For me it's the world I roam in for my work. I don't condone crime nor encourage it, but I don't judge some either. It is what it is. I thank my sources and contacts that have collaborated with me in order to publish works that are out now.
The unknown part is, that many people are uninformed about their own environment. They link crime to cliches or based on some movie references, where in reality it is in stark contrast to their expectations. I have never seen tulips in The Netherlands, but I have seen gangsters.
3.Why does crime exist?
To partially quote J.G. Ballard in Cocaine Nights (1996) - ''Sadly, crime is the only spur that rouses us. We're fascinated by that ''Other World'' where everything is possible.”
Today, many young criminals view the film Scarface as the story of a successful gangster; they idolize Tony Montana and follow his steps for the same fast life of money, sex and power.
4.How are crime and love related?
The things we do for love, criminals do for the love of money. Many criminals do what they do in order to receive love in the form of respect, admiration and power. Others work in this field to provide in the name of love.
5.How are crime and covid-19 related?
With fewer witnesses on the streets, certain crimes will occur more often. In my upcoming publication I have actually made a note about it. Additionally, bodyweight workout routines that have replaced gym equipment could be compared to prison workouts.
However you can't compare it to prison unless you are locked up in a tiny 6 to 10 square meter cage with no shower and no fresh air besides during yard-time. I made a Crowbar Hotel prison workout video for those that have to workout with limited space.
6.What is the story behind your work? How do it connect with your roots?« I grew up half of my childhood at a refugee camp/center »
The photomontages I used to make 5-6 years ago consisted mostly of architecture at war and references from these areas. My father is a war veteran of the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s and both my parents went through the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran.
I grew up half of my childhood at a refugee camp/center amongst people fleeing from the Yugoslav Wars, Somali Civil War and Afghan War to name a few. The bleak atmosphere in those artworks are connected with my roots and later environment as a refugee kid.
My first book Crime Wave Tehran is a different type of visual work but it's also related to Iran. Here I note the relation of Iranian gangsters to current politics and Iran's proxy war in the Middle-East region today.
7.What’s the importance of history?
The importance of doing historic research was recently proven, when Nick Knight made the shameless mistake by using the portrait of Persian King of Kings 'Darius The Great' to portray the Neo-Babylonian tyrant king 'Nebuchadnezzar' for Kanye West's opera in November 2019. They released the artwork, when over 80 million Iranian citizens were going through an internet black-out enforced by its regime during riots where over thousand protesting Iranians were killed.« History defines many of us »
No apology or correction was made; so they obviously don't respect Iranian heritage or its people. The influential Iranians that remained silent about it for commercial reasons, are a disgrace for choosing potential money over honor. All mentioned individuals don't understand nor respect the importance of history (to some groups), yet they consider themselves visionaries.
History defines many of us. Especially in a patriotic society and culture like Iran’s, where its all that we have left.
8.What does “pressure” mean for you?
In terms of my work, young naive teenagers being ''pressured'' into crime by experienced criminals. The struggling Iranian citizens being oppressed and pressured into living under a regime that has nothing to do with our culture or roots. Pressured into living in a 180 degree turned society.
9.What is the best part of being under pressure?
Pushing through and getting work done.
10.What is missing from the world? And what does the world have in excess?
More people to understand current geo-political warfares. Many that don’t and just blindly yell their preferences online and in its act influence others are in excess. This applies to all that; scream for peace without understanding war, for independence without knowing their roots, and those justifying invasions blinded by subjectivity.« Scream for peace without understanding war »
Thank you, Pouria