Is Ontological Partnership Between Existence and Beauty Guaranteed?

For decades I remembered the poetic phrase – “Beauty will save the world”. While looking at Farhad Zamani’s photographs of urban scene something about the meaning of this maxim on beauty as savior was cleared for me. How exactly beauty is meant to save the world, inside the world or inside art? The pop-sense of the maxim is that beauty has the ability to save the world like an archangel on god’s mission – by solemnly stopping the action of the evil energies corrupting the world. But beauty cannot do this – its galaxy is wide but not limitless, its power is penetrating but not omnipotent.

In Zamani’s art the world is ripped into fragments, which morbidly multiply in their chaotic attempts to outlive one another. And here comes the opportunity for art to save some of the world’s fragments by transforming them into a kind of stars of the post-apocalyptic sky. Zamani’s photographs do exactly this by a sublimated greed and the gentle violence of his photo-camera. It is like to save the dead or dying stars by framing them with our earthly sky. Art exists not to save the world but to save their tortured fragments by extracting them from the world and by adopting them into the context of art – making them part of its life. Art then is a “safe haven” for the splinters of life (consumed by their own blind energies) which are lucky enough to be noticed by the artist-benefactor.

Of course, to save the world’s grains of sand art must have the guts to come to the world very closely, to see its anatomy, the very texture of its body. But to see the world like this – to “smell” it with enhanced eyes, is not enough. It is necessary to intervene into it, to penetrate, to violate it with expectation/with demand of beauty.

Zamani’s camera is not elevating this dying leaf (on the bottom of the abyss between nature and urbanism) from the ground – it takes it onto the sky together with cloudy puddle and the shining dirty pebbles. Is the burnt and thrown cigarette butt the bullet of industrialization or the leaf’s brother in abandonment?

The decay, the dying is exactly what makes this piece of wall not only as if alive but, as if, in the very process of… resurrecting, getting significance, becoming “somebody”. We don’t know and don’t care which wall it is and what is behind it but we are fascinated with its very physicality, transforming itself, wearing itself, acting itself out.

Does this wire imprison the cars and the highway or is it itself imprisoned? Isn’t by making it the object of close up the photographer saves it from being just a jailer of the passing cars? We somehow come to feel compassion for the wire, not only for the cars, compassion for being a wire, for being bent and twisted.

Aren’t these pieces of ugly and vulgar utilitarian artificiality appealing? Aren’t they pleading for their liberation? I want to touch these surfaces and rip them off from their deadly functionality. I want to liberate them. Liberate what? I don’t know myself.

This piece of the railway station is like a human body. I am mesmerized by these pores, by this… flesh. The air and humidity eat it alive, endless soles of passengers’ boots outwear it. But Zamani makes us see it so close, so… intimately, that we become concerned about these pieces of matter, about their destiny. But what can we do?

Oh, my god, it is just a crude primitive lock on an old rusty gate! Why make such fuss about it? Why to force us not only to see it but as if to “smell” it? Is it edible? This photo forces us to accept the fact that the body is body, be it rusting metal or human warmth. The sacredness of all matter!

Is it the photographer who tries to save himself in his own shadow? Can the shadow be a person’s resurrection? Why not, if he lives in our world and needs to be re-done by art?

What is it that is lost in the landscape here and resurrected by the art? – Some downtown buildings seen on the left of the picture? – Clouds blocking the sunrise or accompanying the sunset? Or the sun itself, not yet in full power, or exhausted? The world can be saved by art only if the world itself will allow art to exist – will allow people to attend art. If the world is collapsing (if people are occupied only with fight for survival) art will not survive – it means neither will the world.

“Beauty will save the world”? According to Farhad Zamani’s art, it is only beauty of the very physicality of the world can save it. It is as though the sublime and ethereal beauty has proven to be impotent in the modern world. It became an aspect, a fragment of the reality. It became anemic and indifferent. The body of the matter/the matter of the body is more sacred than the mind (that’s conforming to social demands) and soul (that’s obedient to its own obsessions of power and control over other people). According to the logic of Zamani’s images, Christians are mistaken in seeing the body as an abode of corruption and the Islamists not less in seeing it as energy of deviation. Body is naïve and organic – it is the mind that is scheming, calculating and lying to succeed in making its master more majestic.

Each Farhad Zamani’s photograph creates an autonomous zone saving the reality from being mutilated by its existential context, making it free from life and death and making it settle inside art as in eternity.