Dariush Zandi has been involved in the fields of art and photography since the 1970s. He has curated and exhibited artwork for his personal art space, Total Arts Gallery, as well as for events held by entities such as Dubai Chamber of Commerce, National Bank of Dubai and the World Islamic Forum. The following is a selection of projects that Zandi has curated for.
SCRAPS EXHIBITION, TOTAL ARTS AT THE COURTYARD, DUBAI, 2009
Total Arts showcase photographs and found objects titled "Scraps". Toothbrushes, scissors, and bicycle pumps are conglutinated in sculpturesque forms. A burnt generator resembles a birdcage. Other artifacts have been given a new meaning when they became part of installations by Dariush Zandi and Shaqayeq Arabi. An installation of twenty-five generators recalls the skyline of cities. Another installation of burnt knives could be aesthetic wallpaper. One year after the brutal explosion of an Al Quoz warehouse, the ferocity of the fire and sense of tragedy aroused this series of work. An intense smell of burnt rusted metal and plastic was the permanent companion during the four months of excursions of the artists; ashes and smoke filled the air like in a ruin. Masses of twisted metal were pilled up in a disintegrated state of deformation resembling a memorial of considerable size in a state of decay. Being death still, it evoked the sense of devastation and massive destruction. “Scraps” commemorates this moment of shock. The scale of this event and impact on our life startled the artists. On the site of the explosion, they discovered that something had been devastated but something new did arise from the ruins. Objects had been transformed through natural and human forces and given a new meaning. Set into the context of the gallery, the found objects received a new dimension not only material wise but also in meaning and value. As spouses and artistic collaborators, photographer and architect Dariush Zandi and artist Shaqayeq Arabi shared and followed this principle of reuse and metamorphosis of an object in previous installations and works.
SINKING SHIPS EXHIBITION, TOTAL ARTS AT THE COURTYARD, DUBAI, 2012
The dhow, once the lifeblood of the UAE, has, with the onset of today’s fast-paced way of life, diminished in importance. Today many of these majestic boats are abandoned and derelict, left prey to the elements until they fall apart. As the old generation passes away, and with it, its seafaring history, and modernity and progress take over, these great behemoths of the sea now lie at the bottom of sandy graves, covered by the rolling coastal dunes or buried beneath the shifting tides. In Sinking Ships, artists Dariush Zandi and Shaqayeq Arabi navigate a cultural landscape in both a literal and symbolic state of decay. Photography and installation come together to create a nostalgic resurrection of the past and an exploration of notions of deterioration, fragility and vulnerability in a prism of ethical and ideological displacement. The fast-paced buzz of the 21st century may have little room for the slower rhythms of the past, yet here, using the ribs of a decayed dhow, a past moment is captured through an image of the present. In laying out the wooden fragments of a shipwreck, they form a blueprint of sorts, an architectural diagram, as though they were instructions on how to create a boat. In doing so, the dhow becomes a phoenix of sorts, rising from its ashes and living anew. Dramatic black and white photographs of dhows and fishing nets shot in 1983, form the backdrop to what is almost an archaeological dig – yet it is in this very excavation of a fast dying past that it is given a new lease of life. While tinged with melancholy, there is something inspiring and majestic about the silhouettes of the dhows, for here, through their presence, they live on.
YEMEN: TREASURE TROVE EXHIBITION, TOTAL ARTS AT THE COURTYARD, DUBAI, 2009
Selection of photographs from a collaborative project “Yemen: Treasure Trove” realized in 2009 with participation of 11 photographs and a filmmaker among them: Samar Jodha, Kamran Jebreili, Jason Larkin, Katarina Premfors, Manuel Salazar, Simone Santi, Souheil Semaan, Dariush Zandi and filmmaker Nader Bagherpour. Yemen, a fertile and wealthy land, is a country with over 7,000 years of history that to this day maintains its distinct character. The way of life, traditions and centuries old architecture make Yemen a living museum. Yemen, was once known to the Romans as Arabia Felix, is the land of Queen of Sheba, the origin of coffee, the caravans traveling between Indian Ocean through the desert to the Mediterranean Sea, the Bedouin, those tribes of desert-dwellers. Bounded on the west by the Red Sea and on the south by the Arabian Sea, with the great Rub al Khali desert to the north and east Yemen lies in a strategic position between troubled regions in Asia and Africa, and within the Arabian states, and new discoveries of oil and gas attract greed from all sides. Tensions affect the country both internally and externally. The land of opposites, Bedouin tradition versus urbanization, globalized economic development versus traditional tribal economy, affirms its stability today of the firmly established concept of the patriarchal extended family, held together by economic, social and ethical factors, maintaining traditions and keeping strictly to their own norms. In this series of photographs, Yemen is presented through the lens of acclaimed photographers who traveled to Yemen in March and May 2009; A treasure trove for all of them. The project has been initiated and organized by Total Arts in collaboration with Arabia Felix, Marco Livadiotti and Melanie Radicke. Yemenia, Universal Touring Company and Yemen Tourism supported this trip. This exhibition would not have been possible without the generous support of TruColour from Dubai. The following photos are Dariush Zandi's contributions to this exhibition.
MIDDLE EAST PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS (MEPP) EXHIBITION, TOTAL ARTS AT THE COURTYARD, DUBAI, 2008
This exhibition features a great line up of Dubai's top professional photographers, united for the first time for the inaugural event of the organization ‘MEPP’ (Middle Eastern Professional Photographers). TruColour – Graphics & Exhibitions is the exclusive sponsor of the exhibition. Against the background of the wide range of styles and subject matter covered in the professional arena some of the well known names will show unexpected sides to their abilities, exhibiting more personal work, while others will doubtless choose to demonstrate their prowess in the professional context. The primary skill of a professional photographers is their ability to communicate a visual message; powerfully and succinctly and we can look forward to seeing this skill demonstrated with a variety of approaches. Nabila Abbas, Richard Allenby-Pratt, Nigel Brand, Charles Crowell, Susmit Dey, Nicolas Dumont, Maha Nasra, Edde Fares El-Jammal, Jorge Ferrari, Samar Jodha, Oz Newcombe, Roger Payling, Martin Pfeiffer, Katarina Premfors, Peter Richweisz, Souheil Semaan, Insy Shah, Pankaj Shah, Bassem Smeir, David Taylor-Bramley, Paul Thuysbaert, Trevor Vaughan, Daryl Visscher, Dariush Zandi are the participant photographers. MEPP aims to improve the commercial photography industry, to raise professional standards, and, most particularly, to show support of MEPP's published standards for the contractual implementation of photographer's legal copyrights. The following photos are Dariush Zandi's contributions to this exhibition.