Acquired from the above by the present owner. 2014
“Acquired from the above by the present owner” is a project about the U.S. Army supplies that are sold illegally in Tehran, Iran. I learned about stores in a neighborhood called “Gomrok” in south of hometown, Tehran, where they sell the U.S. Army outfit and accessories. Apparently these objects are imported illegally from Afghanistan and Iraq. I also found out that people, especially younger generation are interested in buying them, for either consumption or collection. Each individual’s reason for buying these items is different and complicated. The variety and complexity of different people with different social backgrounds, who purchase the U.S. Army outfit and supplies, encouraged me to interview them to understand more. Also, I found this interesting since I’ve been thinking about the U.S. economic sanctions on Iran and its effects on the Iranian society, consumption, and cultural exchanges between the two countries and how much governments can ban and limit this exchange. Given the abysmal state of relations between the U.S. government and the Iran government and the increasing suffering that the U.S. led sanctions have inflicted on ordinary Iranian citizens in recent years, I wanted to know more about what was drawing Iranians to these items. What, if anything, could the interest in the U.S. military gears tell us about sanctions and their effects on a society? How does this explain the cultural exchange and governments’ ability to limit it? Exchange of information with someone in Iran and ask them to do part of the project have been part of my art practice. For this project, I asked a friend in Tehran to take photos of the people who buy these objects and their collections and to interview them about their lives and their motivations for purchasing the military gear. I bought at least one or more of these objects from each person and had them ship it to New York City. The series will be presented in a format of an installation and an auction book.
In this installation, each object is placed in a wooden vitrine with a drawer. Inside the drawer is a series of archival photos of each person’s collection (except the photo of the actual object in vitrine) along with a book of interviews and images of the whole project.