Sanaz Mazinani: Mirrored Explosions

Mirror reflections have multifarious interpretations: some view the image as objective truth, while others identify its inherent reversal as proof of the mirror’s deception or illusion. Mirrors confine and frame the visible, although they may also exaggerate it infinitely —for example, when two mirrors face each other.

We are so used to viewing our reflection on a daily basis that we often fail to see who or what is staring back. The same is true of the photographic image: despite the complexities of photography, even the most atrocious scenes of conflict and war dissolve in the indiscriminate and ubiquitous depictions encountered in the media.

Sanaz Mazinani’s recent photographic collages physically jar these images out of this mediascape. By presenting chaotic explosions in mirrored, kaleidoscopic arrangements that refuse to lie flat, Mazinani impedes a passive spectatorship; the representation of conflict is both visual and haptic.

Each work in Mirrored Explosions is an intervention in space, challenging the privileged vantage through which the politics of war are mediated. Problematizing both the mirrored reflection and the photographic lens, Mazinani ruptures our modes of observation, forcibly asking: how does an image’s mediation affect moral or political judgements? To what extent are these images real to us? How can the implications of war be more visibly, and tangibly, understood through representation?

Mirrored Explosions is guest-curated by Pantea Haghighi.

Sanaz Mazinani is an artist, curator, and educator based in San Francisco and Toronto. She holds an undergraduate degree from Ontario College of Art & Design University, and a Masters in Fine Arts from Stanford University. She co-edited the book ALMANAC: An Index of Current work and Thought (Stanford University, 2010). Recent curatorial projects include Edward Weston: On Light, Line and Form at Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, and New Constellations: Contemporary Iranian Video Art at UCLA, Los Angeles, both in 2012.

Her works have been exhibited at the University of Toronto Art Centre, Museum Bärengasse, Zurich, Art & Architecture Library at Stanford University, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, and Emirates Financial Towers, Dubai. Mazinani’s catalogue Unfolding Images was released in 2012. She has recently received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and San Francisco Arts Commission. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize, granted the Kala Art Institute Fellowship, and awarded the San Francisco Arts Commission Art on Market Street public art installation for 2013-14.

Pantea Haghighi is an independent curator and owner of Republic Gallery. She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Art History program. Curatorial projects include Unsent Dispatches from the Iranian Revolution, 1978-1979 at Presentation House Gallery in 2005, the Utopias Constructed series from 2014-18, Where/Between to be presented at Equinox Gallery in June 2016, and Mirrored Explosions at West Vancouver Museum in April 2016.