Gallery Isabelle hosts Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian

Part of The Exquisite Corpse Shall Drink The New Wine exhibition by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh & Hesam Rahmanian at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde. (Photo by Danna Lorch)
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Stepping into Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde on an unfairly humid April afternoon is so disorienting that it poses the immediate uncertainty of whether the heat has caused a hallucination—or not. Iranian artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian have collaborated to turn the typically white cube gallery space on its head with a show that took three weeks to install. The effect is bizarrely charming.

The gallery has been divided into cluttered rooms that mimic the layout of a home. The floors have been covered in hand painted vinyl. A formal photograph of the British royal family has been irreverently transformed into a large-scale painting in which the Queen is a headless blue fish. An unexplained series of vignettes have been set up and include a clogged blender, a wooden sculpture wearing Superman undies, and a series of framed book covers with deeply psychological titles like, “The Prevention of Destitution.”

Experimenting with the medium of performance video, TVs continuously play clips; one of them is the artists’ re-enactment of the extravagant life of Marie Antoinette. Shots in which the trio don plastic masks depicting piglets are also de rigour.

The trio of artists have been living and collaborating together in a Barsha villa for more than five years. Although their art may seem mischievous and playful, their practice is appreciably rigorous and they create on a strict schedule from early morning until night, 7 days a week. They are also avid art collectors and have installed pieces by the forces that have influenced them (including The Guerilla Girls and Dan Johnston), in such a seamless way that it is challenging to distinguish how or to whom any of the individual works should be attributed.

The impressive show was produced in response to the trio’s recently completed stint as Robert Raushcenburg Foundation artists in residency on Captiva Island, Florida. It was a real trust fall for the gallery—as the full content of the show wasn’t revealed even to the gallery’s founder herself until installation. An accompanying essay is yet to be released, perhaps to emphasise the artists’ desire for viewers to experience the work without bowing to a prescriptive explanation.

Although it sounds cryptic at first read, the name of the show, “The Exquisite Corpse Shall Drink The New Wine” actually pays homage to the 1920’s Surrealists, who came up with the phrase while playing a word game in which random phrases were cobbled together into a surprisingly poetic sequence.

Even if this is not your kind of art, the salacious show deserves a one-hour visit. Just remember to close your mouth from the initial shock!

* The Exquisite Corpse Shall Drink The New Wine runs until May 18 at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Alserkal Avenue. For more information visit the gallery's website.

Danna Lorch is a guest blogger for The Art Blog. To read more visit her blog Danna Writes here (