Shirazeh Houshiary

IRN (1955).Lives and works in London.

Dust, 2011–13
Digital animation, 7’8’’

Light is intrinsic to the video titled Dust, a multicellular digital animation that is one of Iranian artist Shirazeh Houshiary’s latest works. The projected image is made up of multiple frames of a candle lit before a pale travertine tile. The screen becomes a single solid travertine wall, built from the light of the candles.

Soot and dust stains come and go, congregating on intangible figures before dissolving into thin air. Each cell contains the same narrative but a different temporal configuration. The cycle of changes occurs so slowly throughout the video’s seven minutes that it is barely perceptible. It seems as though the image only reveals itself to us when it has already begun to vanish. In memory, in the mind, disappearance is stronger than appearance.

Houshiary’s video practice is closely related to her work with objects. Although trained as a sculptor, she tackled paint early on. Her work is tinged with Persian flavors that
speak of her origins and exhibit Sufism influences. As in her paintings, Dust is subtle and delicate; the image changes before our eyes if we gaze at them for an extended period of time. The idea of an image in constant change—that is both personal and individual—that mutates under scrutiny is a declaration of intention with regards to our collective identity.