Skip to content
The News

Nazgol Ansarinia, Four works from the series Membrane (parts) (2014), Paper, paste, and glue; Four works from the series Pillars (2014–18), Cast resin, paint

Courtesy of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, photo by Marco Cappelletti

The previous century witnessed a great transformation – people moving from villages to cities; migrating from one country to another; abandoning their ancestral lands, professions, languages, attires, foods and customs for new, often unfamiliar and unsuited ones. Developments in the means of communications - roads, trains, ships, aeroplanes, postal systems, land-line and mobile phones - have heightened the phenomenon.

The outcome is a serious threat to nature. The harmony and self-sustainability were first disrupted by the colonial powers’ control over raw materials found in the conquered regions and later by the industrialised societies’ need for immigrant labour. The alienation, displacement and dispossession caused by these changes are evident in our surroundings, where a human being is isolated not only from other people but also from other living beings and elements of nature.

A number of artists participating in the second edition of Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale 2024 (February 20–May 24), observed the spread of migration, racial and gender injustice, dislocation, conflict, globalisation and commercialisation in our midst and addressed those in their work. Selected by a curatorial team led by Ute Meta Bauer, the Biennale’s artistic director, the work offered a cohesive and compelling, though diverse, narrative on the looming crisis of our times.


Enveloped in its past and present, the city also fascinates Nazgol Ansarinia. The Iranian-born invoked not only the architectural remains but also socio-political factors that shape external outlets and inner systems. Each one of her Pillars, is composed of an article from the Iranian constitution. The Persian text is rotated on an axis to form capitals not dissimilar to those sighted in Tehran. She cuts the capital, like a piece of cake, to reveal Farsi writing, occasionally decipherable. Ansarinia’s remarkable and courageous sculptures were a reminder of the way state can influence every crevice of human existence. Her other work, Membrane, included casts of city walls marked for demolition. The sensitive imprint looked like human skin. The papier-mâché are in fact the archives of those who rubbed their bodies against the solid yet tactile surfaces, or/ and lived in the buildings.

Seher Shah had reconstructed the metropolis in an intimate language that resembled musical notation. Of Dust and Measure (5-9), revealed ruptures between spaces, suggesting the shadow of surveillance the Karachi-born Shah has experienced like any other South Asian citizen and recalls.

Back To Top