Nowadays outside the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown, Massachusetts, you will be seeing a poster with a strange photograph and even a stranger title, “Movements in Adagio” until the end of June. The only clue about the poster is a statement at the bottom, talking about Naveed Nour and 25 years of photography. Initially we were reluctant, but curiosity got the better part of us, so we decided to give it a try and check out the exhibit
After making it to the 3rd floor and finding our way to the main contemporary art gallery, we were greeted by an unexpectedly large exhibit space filled with more than 100 photographs of all types and sizes. At first we were trying to figure out where to start, while also looking for Naveed Nour’s work. Soon enough we realized what 25 years of photography means. The whole exhibit space belonged to him. In reality we could have started any where as it was divided in several sections, independent of each other.
One section belonged to his photographs of Iran during the Iran/Iraq war in the early 80’s. To the right of the gallery was a collection of photographs from around the world, filled with moments so simple to walk by, yet captivating enough to engage you with every single one of them. This collection was called “Momento”. You could see others from afar trying to read some of the captions to learn more about the stories, which was only possible for some of the photographs, as apparently the artist, who prefers to be called by his first name Naveed, decided to exclude as much information as possible from all the photographs, so that the audience could make the experience their own. For those who were really curious, a gallery guide with numbers referring to each picture was available that told the story behind each photograph.
Naveed’s work from Iran was very personal as he was telling his own life story in the pictures, as well as in some large size photo mosaics, or collages that were put together from dissected photographs of war and destruction in Iran. This collection Naveed calls “Memoirs of a Refugee”.
On a wall opposite of the Iran exhibit was a wall with more than 16 portraits. Some of the portrayed faces where looking straight at you while others were looking away. In front of the wall two armchairs were offering a lengthy stay for those who felt the need to connect with the characters in these images. Once you would sit down it would be hard to leave as you had already bonded with the faces. This section Naveed would call the wall of fame which under others included pictures of the Dalai Lama, San Francisco Artist Silvia Poloto and world renowned photo journalist Reza.
And the last exhibit area gave the name “Movements in Adagio” to the exhibit. According to Naveed, Movements in Adagio refers to life passing by at a slow rhythm. The images of this section were in stark contrast with the rest of the photographs as they were all in color, no smaller than 24×24 inches and to top it off, most of them didn’t even resemble photographs. We had to ask about some of them to make sure they were not paintings.
At this stage of his artistic career Naveed had found color and his love for Impressionism combined with more than 25 years of photography created a new style that we have never seen before. One of his “paintings” had Degas written all over it while some were just a strong representation of form and color, nevertheless having you wonder about the context of it, and sure enough, just like his earlier black and white photographs, each painting was a telling a story of life.
We expected to visit a photo gallery, but we have to say that we got a lot more than what we bargained for, as this is a collection one would only see at a museum. We are glad that we gave it a chance