Something from Nothing - Dialogue with Hossein Valamanesh
HV It's basically a pedestal, with a light at the bottom and filled with water. And that's a cup of which is very typical of an Iranian tea cup with tea called 'ince belli. I put enough tea that the cup just goes to the same level of the water before it sinks.
CK Was it very experimental at the time you were making it?
HV Yes, actually it was when I was doing the dishes, I noticed this phenomenon of objects floating in water and not sinking. But I bought the cups in Turkey when I was travelling through. It came together some how: the cup, with the tea and the colour.
It was like being somewhere but not totally being in the place.. Like when I was in Turkey but I wasn't home yet. This was my situation, I was kind of close enough. I could maybe get in there and become one. But I was still separate from my environment and surroundings. The work itself is demanding. If somebody wants the work, they have to maintain it - they have to make the tea and clean it. It's a simple act, but it also has a ceremonial quality.
These are small collages made from Cronus, a thorn like plant. I found it in Switzerland in 2001 and I carried them around and dried them and they're embedded them in wax. It's this idea of the real and movement: they're pure visual intrigue. Giving some sort of order to something that has inherent order in it but appears to be chaotic - like nature is.
CK Play is quite important
HV Play is really important.
This is a work I made last year - a bronze work of a stick with a persian text saying: "This will also pass. This shall pass." It's a saying, a form of reminder of impermanence.
CK A mememento mori?
Yes, but there is also a pun by making it in bronze which is very permanent.
4 or 5 years ago I made an edition of work, in Farsi which is the word 'nothing'. I took the word out of black paper and I have the positive bits leftover from the laser cuttings and kept them for years. But the word itself repeats over all in this shape.
But many people who are familiar with contemporary Iranian art would be aware of this particular word as it became well known from the work by a sculptor who is one generation older than me when I was studying in the 60s and his name is Parviz Tanavoli. He made this word in a solid bronze sculpture in Tehran... he's made many versions of it. It is also homage to him - I've never met him, but his work was very prominent in city of Tehran in the 60s.