Pooneh Maghazehe »Sandbox«, 2011, work in progress). Video, 9 min (2 min exerpt)
Visual opulence is one of Pooneh Maghazehe’s passions. The 32-year old American-Iranian lives in Brooklyn, recently graduated from Columbia University in New York, and, as artist-in-residence took a close examination of the history of the ZKM.
Maghazehe is interested in the subjective and factual interlacing of those stories and visual traditions amenable to association – in her work, disperate histories are “claustrophobically forced together”, as she says, so as to make visible those interconnections that would otherwise probably remain obscured. In the video work ‘Sandbox’ (2011, work in progress), the artist re-stages scenes drawn from the war propaganda film Hearts of the World (1915) on an unoccupied site adjacent to the ZKM, which, presently the location of the ZKM, until the end of 1940s was home to the Deutschen Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken AG (DWM) [German Weapons and Munitions Factory]. She narrates about cherries and the power and violence which architecture is capable of bearing within it.
As artist-in-residence at the ZKM, in your Artist Talk you claimed that you understand your function as ‘responder’ as someone who responds to the exhibition instead of simply participating in it. What were your reasons for reflecting on the history of the ZKM spaces?
PM: I didn't find the history of the site necessary for the show per se, but my research created a compelling lens through which to think about an exhibition on globalization held at the ZKM, in Karlsruhe, Germany. I was more attracted by the existence of the show and its relationship to the location rather than the artwork in it . The overlaps in sheer size, influence and dominance between the former DWM and the present-day ZKM, were ironic, but then became startling. The most tangible common denominator in these histories is the site, so I chose to focus on it.
One important point of reference was ‘Hearts of the World’ (1915), the first film to be shot, in part, at an actual frontline conflict location – how is this reflected in ‘Sandbox’?
PM: Unlike other DW Griffith films, "Hearts of the World", is not available for online viewing, which meant that we had to order it. While waiting, I resorted to reading all reviews and summaries of the film that I could find. In ‘Sandbox’, I reconstructed the moment in which Lilian Gish, stumbling and dazed following the bombing of her neighbourhood, finds her seemingly deceased fiance.
In one scene, the viewer witnesses how a pair of hands silently smashes cherries on a bathroom sink – a haunting metaphor for the violence of war. What was your reason for working with cherries?
PM: Griffith commonly used animals and objects as metaphors for relationships and love. We used cherries to mirror the communication and magnetism between figures. During editing, the figures developed into metaphors for ideas rather than depicting actual characters or personalities.