The Isle

  • Exhibition

835 N Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Artists and UFI Fellows Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi make up the collaborative team Pages – as which they aim to create possibilities for reflecting on politically and socially contingent conditions of cultural practice in order to generate a space of criticality. In their installation The Isle, Tabatabai and Afrassiabi focused on the contemporary circumstances of Kish, an island in the Persian Gulf, to explore notions of “geopolitical indecisiveness.”

Located eighteen kilometers from the southern coast of the Iranian mainland, Kish was declared by the Iranian government in 1978 to be Iran’s first free trade zone, applying the principles of a free market economy to attract foreign investment; by 1994, almost 55 percent of the island was given to tourism. Yet, subjected to the politics of mainland Iran, the island has found itself lingering between opposing ideologies, caught in geopolitical indecisiveness that prevents it from sustaining a sense of “place.” 

For its MAK Center presentation, The Isle consisted of text, video, found documents, and architectural models that together narrated the “symptomatic” features of Kish. Re-articulating unresolved instances of the island’s modernization into representations of (unfulfilled) desires, Tabatabai and Afrassiabi addressed symptoms of modernity as manifested in ambivalent forms of architecture not destined to come into being.

The MAK Urban Future Initiative (UFI) ran from 2008-10 at the Fitzpatrick-Leland House and was dedicated to creating meaningful cross-cultural exchange about the challenges confronting cities worldwide.