Turtles Cry When They Fly: A Curator’s View by Ellee Bokharachi

“I remember visiting the Abgineh Glass Museum in Tehran where I found strangely shaped glass containers featuring dramatic curves in their long, narrow necks. These stirring forms have a strong connection to their traditional function. When a husband was away for war or a long trip, his wife (or lover) would keep her tears in a bottle called an Ashk-Don in Farsi, meaning ‘Tear Container,’” say Iranian-born artist Azi Amiri.12773460_10205983032917479_1424013812_oThe installation Turtles Cry When They Fly tells a story of love and loss. The slowed-down footage from a film by Bahman Ghobadi (with music by Hossein Alizâdeh), projected through an Ashk-Don cast from sugar, transforms the intimate elegiac vessel into a subtly charged object filled with stories and memories.

The work eschews a direct representation of violence, challenging the viewer instead to imagine an impending tragedy. An undefined narrative begins to impose itself adequate to grasp the simultaneous appearance of pain and compassion.

The confluence of material and form explores contradictory subtexts of ephemerality, love, loss, pleasure and pain. A sense of sorrow builds, as heat from the projected image along with viewers’ breath and body heat, begin to deform delicate vessel, highlighting its fragile existence.

Azi Amiri’s installation Turtles Cry When They Fly is a melancholic gesture of mourning for all life and talent lost to wars. Amiri’s tear container reveals small details, while obscuring the larger story. It mirrors us, individually and as a group, to depict the suffering that we, as human beings, go through in the times of conflict.
Memory_7 Throughout the course of this ephemeral installation, heat causes the vessel itself to deform and drop moisture, like tears, as it slowly melts over the course of several hours, leaving a sticky residue below. Until finally, there is a total collapse and it can no longer stand on its own, perhaps symbolizing the loss of a loved one or the necessity to bury memories that are just too painful to deal with on a regular basis.

Turtles Cry When They Fly was curated by Ellee Bokharachi in collaboration with the Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art (phICA), and sponsored by Lawdan Shojaee, the CEO of Axosoft.