“Abuse of power comes as no surprise,” wrote Jenny Holzer in the late 1970s. It’s a sentiment borne out by the work of the 31 artists featured in “My Super Hero: New Contemporary Art from Iran.” On view simultaneously at Morono Kiang Gallery in L.A. and Aaran Gallery in Tehran, the ambitious exhibition could hardly be more timely. As the ongoing tumult in the Middle East has made painfully clear, the whole question of heroism and leadership — who should lead and how — is fraught with the specters of corruption, oppression and abuse. Aaran Gallery director Nazila Noebashari has assembled a wide range of works notable not only for their debunking of superhero mythology, but also for the often veiled and clever ways in which they get their message across.
Noebashari asked the artists — most of whom live in Iran — to respond to the superhero theme, and each artist created two works, one for each gallery. In some cases, the works are duplicates; in others, they are totally different, reflecting not only the irreproducibility of certain pieces, but the differences in cultural context between Los Angeles and Tehran. For example, the gallery attendant noted that although it seems relatively benign in L.A., Behdad Lahooti’s bronze sculpture of a turban would be problematic in Iran because it could be seen as a disrespectful take on a symbol of religious devotion. Siamak Filizadeh’s image of an inflatable Spiderman whose air valve is in a sexually sugge… >>>