The Cook and the Smoke Detector is Vanessa Safavi’s third solo exhibition at ChertLüdde. Safavi takes her inspiration from the undesirable scenario of steamy, crowded public transport on a hot summer’s day, delving into its hidden poetic of countless possibilities.
The show evokes an odd yet familiar setting through a new series of sculptures based on the accidental properties of an object or a situation. With a sharp playfulness, Safavi investigates again the topics of body and trauma, exposing how trivial misfortune acts on the complex mind-body relationship.
Safavi hijacks our common sense and gives unexpected meaning to what we usually take for granted. In this exibition, she uses the familiarity of our urban everyday environment — from a public transport handrail to a fried egg.
Her ongoing series ‘Holding Substitute’ concerns the experience of the dearticulated body, questioning the relationship between the brain and the flesh. Gathering pictures of public transport’s grab handles that she has been taking during her travels, Safavi attempts to overcome their mere function as passenger support. Rather than being synonyms of imbalance, disability or stabilisation, they suggest a narrative dramaturgy in which all bodies become actors of a forced and involuntary dance.
She describes urban public transport as: “the place where everybody is equal, anonymous and therefore the best place to understand society. I imagine public transport like a contemporary theatre, were actors and public melt into one another”.
Using conceptual systems of language and a personal narrative, Safavi explores and enquiries the contemporary identity of the body, in relation to the constant optimisation of technologies and its cultural impacts in our hyper-organised society. This mechanism has unequivocally driven society to a new sphere of identity, in addition to a complex, vulnerable and schizophrenic fragility. To this end, Safavi work recalls the weakness of our bodies, along with the poetry that emerges from them.
Being interested in the materiality of the silicone by analogy with the skin and the human body, the artist states: “Silicone is an interesting element to look at in order to understand contemporary fashions and human behaviours. The complexion of the skin is a fundamental creator of identity and it is so deeply rooted in a cultural history. In this way, when cultural history changes, the same happens to the understanding of our body and thus to the value of our skin.”