Mitra Azar is not the real name of the artist known as Mitra Azar. It is a pseudonym he took refuge in after being arrested in Iran in 2009 in the middle of an artistic project, which became one of the few records of the Iranian grassroots movement and the violent repression by the Ahmadinejad government in the lead up to his re-election.
Azar is a self-proclaimed “eclectic-schizo-creative-nomadic-sponge”, a description that provides some clues as to his work. His practice moves between a range of very different formats including live cinema and documentary. He readily mixes activist protest with theory and philosophy, generating an infinite, networked (an)archive activated through live cinema.
Azar explores personal, aesthetic, and geopolitical boundaries as part of his practice-based mutant research. In his work, borders, censorship, geological eras, personal comfort zones and humanitarian crises interact with ideas based on the symbolic limits of images and the disembodiment of the gaze.
His activism is based on field work in the most literal sense: a direct immersion in conflict zones that has led him into what he says are “some of the strangest places on the planet”. This fatal attraction for the aesthetics of crisis has taken him from Fukushima to the Gaza Strip and from Lebanon to China as a way of bringing the border – “a space that has had to forsake creativity” – back into the centre of artistic production.
SON[I]A talks to Mitra Azar about points of view and the disembodiment of the gaze, drones, borders, nomadism, never-ending archives, processes, the “artropocene”, and conflict zones as a breeding ground for creative practices.