Siavash Momeny is best known for his depictions everyday objects wrapped in newspaper. Though their surface is masked, the objects are clearly recognisable. A pram, bicycle and a sewing machine are some of the objects used. By covering an object such as a bicycle, it becomes universal rather than particular. The viewer sees a bicycle from their memory, not from the artist’s studio.
Objects from our past are locked in with our memories and associations. We connect things we no longer use with periods in our lives. When these items were wrapped and put away, the newspapers used to protect them were current. It is another reminder of not only our personal memory of the object, but also the wider association of that period in history; what was happening around us at that time. Though disguised in newspaper, the wrapped object offers a more complex story of that point in time than the item alone. A childhood item wrapped in news that lay outside of one’s then insulated world, may offer in hindsight a greater perspective on those in your life at the time, and the things that happened around you.
The sight of recognisable forms wrapped in newspaper also communicates the idea of moving from a place, or a period in our lives, and perhaps a changing mental state associated with this move. This veil of newspaper provides a cursory covering for the object but the protection offered is tenuous, suggestive of a metaphor for the human condition and symbolising the protective layer we try to cover ourselves with when we are vulnerable. In reality there are no cast iron protective shells and we are forced to persevere regardless.
Likewise, Momeny’s paintings of pallets symbolise movement, but on a grander scale. In these large works wooden pallets are stacked tall, extending beyond the realms of the picture plane, and layered until little else is visible in the work. The shallow depth of field gives the pallets the appearance of protruding out from the canvas and into the viewer’s space, creating a confronting force. The pallets could be the long discarded packaging of objects, once loved and now wrapped in newspaper, referencing movement and migration. When considering the title of the exhibition to contextualise the pallet paintings, Deracinate (to uproot, extirpate or to isolate or alienate one from a native or customary culture or environment), these pallets could be read as remnants of the pandemic consumerism of the developed world which dilutes our distinct cultures.
Inferences of migration and change are prominent themes in Momeny’s work. Originally from Iran, Momeny studied at Tehran University before immigrating to New Zealand more than twenty years ago. Since moving to New Zealand Momeny has been working as a Designer of several large design firms in both Auckland and Wellington.