The body can learn from an artistic practice. It catalogues the sensations related to making—the feeling of materials between fingers, of smooth surfaces or rough edges on skin. It gathers intuitive knowledge of forming and shaping—how much to push or bend, how to perforate materials, or how to join them together. Artworks can be guides, like wall-mounted mirrors in a weight room, motivating progress and reflecting difficulty or achievement. Completed elements become affirmations, serving as evidence or representations of physical or emotional feats.
Burrard Arts Foundation presents Returning Tenderly Triumphant by North Vancouver-based artist Parvin Peivandi. A culmination of her summer studio residency at BAF, the exhibition consists of a suite of new sculptural works that combine seemingly opposed materials, fusing worn found textiles with sharp metal sheeting and brightly pigmented beeswax.
Peivandi works to find analogy between the human body and these materials. She relates strongly to the tribal rugs that she has collected from many trips to Iran over the past decade, transported throughout the years to her various studios in Chicago and in the Vancouver area. These woven textiles hold cultural codes, of nomadic life in Iran and, more broadly, of women’s skill and struggle. They reflect Peivandi’s own experiences of travel and immigration, of moving away from traditional society into unfamiliar and often discomforting terrain.
The textiles press against, support and are supported by steel forms—a more aggressive material with architectural and military associations. For Peivandi, the steel represents fear and superiority. As a woman in Iran, she was denied access to metalworking, and now works to reclaim it—to create a closeness between her body and the metal, a harmony between fabric and steel. Each angular plate has been shaped and folded by her own hands and exertion.
Through her practice, by working to establish a link between the body and these works, Peivandi creates common ground between her own body and the body of the individual. Embracing ideas of the body as object, the sculptures in Returning Tenderly Triumphant acknowledge the precarity of individual lives, in particular the lives of people from the Middle East. Through the intensity of Peivandi’s personal investment, however, the works champion grit and tenacity, each one representing a measurable triumph.