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Parinaz Eleish Gharagozlou: Amnesia of a Forgotten City

Leila Heller Gallery, New York

Artist: Parinaz Eleish Gharagozlou

“For me it has always been a city of ruins and of end-of-empire melancholy. I’ve spent my life either battling with this melancholy or (like all Istanbulus) making it my own.”

-Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City

I will build a boat

I will keep sailing

I will keep sailing

Beyond the seas there IS a town

Where windows are open to epiphanies

The rooftops are inhabited by pigeons

Gazing at the fountains of Human Intelligence

Every ten-year-old child holds a bough of knowledge

The townsfolk see in a brick row a flame,

Or a delicate dream;

Dust can hear the music of your feelings

The fluttering wings of mythical birds are audible in the wind

Beyond the seas there is a town

Where the Sun is as wide-open as the eyes of early-risers

Poets are the inheritors of water, wisdom, and light

Beyond the seas there is a town,

So one should build a boat.

-Sohrab Sepehri

“A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent.”

-Elie Wiesel

You walk down alleyways and dead-ends. You circle the squares and roundabouts of your memory. You recognize the feel of the summer heat on your skin. That is yours for ever. Passing by an open window, you know the smell of the mid day meal cooking on a stove. You are sure the fried onions would have a sweet taste on your tongue if you were called in to share the repast. You should be in sync with the city’s pulse, this beating heart that you sense against the soul of your shoes.

And yet.

And yet you see it cracking, crumbling, crashing. For years now, for a long time. It is soundless, slow, steady. You are walking down narrow lanes, tree lined avenues and around street corners, all renamed reshaped. Where there was a door there is gaping hole. Where there were windows, blind darkness within an empty frame. A three legged chair abandoned to its fate, a stuffed bear for the alley cats. Cities no longer in control of their past or their destiny, abandoned to the pillage of the greedy, of the small limited minds.

You walk down narrow lanes and pass by filigreed garden gates. You look for stories, memories contained within the walled ruins that were home to all that. And so much more than that. The heart and soul of the city.

And yet.

You find a city without borders a city with no past, no future. And you remember having read this:

"If I see my city as beautiful and bewitching, then my life must be so too.”

-Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: memories and the city

-Parinaz Eleish Gharagozlou

all images © the gallery and the artist(s)

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