Taher Asad-Bakhtiari | Taher Asad-Bakhtiari - RECOVERED BARRELS
Taher Asad-Bakhtiari is a self-taught artist whose practice focuses on, but is not limited to, objects, textiles and experiences.
Taher, Taher Asad-Bakthiari, Taher Asad, Asad, artist, art, Tehran, Iran, Dubai, kilim, gabbeh, barrel, barrels, metallic, experience, textile, textiles, exhibition, exhibitions
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ON EACH AND EVERY CONSTRUCTION SITES THROUGHOUT TEHRAN, AN ODD ITEM RULES. IT IS THE EMPTY OIL BARREL, A METER-HIGH ALUMINUM CYLINDER CONTAINER BUILT BY THE IRANIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM INDUSTRY TO STORE CRUDE OIL. MULTI-FUNCTIONAL, THESE OIL BARRELS ARE USED TO MIX PLASTER, CEMENT, TAR, PAINT AND OTHER CHEMICALS. THEY ARE BATTERED PIECES, WORN BY VARIOUS PHYSICAL TREATMENT AND CORRODED BY CHEMICALS. BUT THEY ARE AN ESSENTIAL TOOL TO THE AFGHAN CREWS WHO WORK ON THESE SITES. THAT’S WHY THEY DON’T USUALLY KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF ASAD BAKHTIARI’S TEAM, WHO COME WITH BRAND NEW BARRELS TO OFFER A SWAP. HOW OFTEN DOES SOMEONE COME AROUND OFFERING YOU A NEW ITEM IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR USED ONE?
ASAD BAKHTIARI IS PART OF IRAN’S “OIL BABIES”, A GENERATION BORN AT THE HEIGHT OF THE COUNTRY’S OIL BOOM AND SHORT-LIVED ROMANCE WITH WESTERN POWERS. HE IS AFTER THESE USED BARRELS. IN THEM, HE SEES ART IN THE MAKING. ONCE THE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS CAN BE CONVINCED TO EXCHANGE THEIR OLD BARRELS FOR NEW ONES, THE USED BARRELS COME TO THE ARTIST’S WAREHOUSE. EACH BARREL DISPLAYS ITS OWN SCARS AND UNIQUE PATINÉ, DEPENDING ON THE PAINTS, BUILDING MATERIALS OR CHEMICALS THAT WERE MIXED INSIDE IT AND THE OVERALL BATTERING IT RECEIVED. SOME EXHIBIT A BLUE TINT AND LITTLE SIGNS OF MISTREATMENT, OTHERS ARE RUSTED AND BADLY BENT. REGARDLESS, THEY ARE ALL RIPE FOR THE PROCESS THAT WILL TURN THEM INTO ART PIECES. THEY ARE FIRST COMPRESSED IN SIZE WHILE PRESERVING ANY ORIGINAL DENT OR DEFORMITY. THEN, EACH PIECE IS COATED WITH DOZENS OF LAYERS OF RESIN AND POLISHED UNTIL THEIR NATURAL PATINÉ IS FULLY ENHANCED AND THEY ARE STURDY UNDERNEATH AND SMOOTH ALL AROUND.
CLEANED AND ALL SPRUCED UP, THE FINISHED PRODUCTS ARE A CROSS BETWEEN RECYCLED ART, ENVIRONMENTAL ART AND UPCYCLE.  EACH ONE IS UNIQUE IN STYLE AND COLOR AND CONTINUE TO BE MULTI-FUNCTIONAL. RESCUED FROM A FATE OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION, ASAD BAKHTIARI’S BARRELS TELL A STORY OF DIVERSION, BARTER, OVERCOMING RESISTANCE, METAMORPHOSIS AND RECOVERY. AS SUCH, THEY STAND AS A TESTAMENT TO IRAN’S MODERN AND TORTUOUS HISTORY: FROM RICHES TO DUST, FROM SHINY NEW TO BATTERED AND BARELY SURVIVING, FROM FRIVOLITY TO AUSTERITY  AND THEN SLOW RE-CONVERSION. AND GREAT RESILIENCE THROUGHOUT. SHINY AND CHESTY IN THEIR NEW OUTFITS, THE BARRELS-TURNED-ART-PIECES STAND AS A SUBTLE REMINDER THAT IN A CITY OF EXTREMES, IT IS THE SIMPLE THINGS THAT TELL THE BIGGEST STORIES. LIKE AN ORDINARY OIL BARREL.