Monday, 16 February 2009

Chohreh Feyzdjou – 1955|1996

On this day, February 17, Chohreh Feyzdjou (1955, Tehran, Iran – 1996, Paris) died 13 years ago in Paris. I met her in 1993 when I was working at Peninsula Foundation, Eindhoven. She was invitated to participate in the exhibition Hond & Hamer (De Fabriek, Eindhoven, 1993). Peninsula produced a catalogue (Product of Chohreh Feyzdjou) of her installation for this exhibition. A year later we produced another book for her: Product of Chohreh Feyzdjou – Textes, on occasion of her exhibition at Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, in 1994.
In the gallery space of Peninsula there was in 1995 a personal exhibition Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou, Série B. Sadly it was her last exhibition, she died a few months later.

In 2003 her work was shown, as a very large installation, at the Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany (8 June – 15 September 2002, curated by Okwui Enwezor)
The complete collection of work from her studio was acquired by the French state in 2002, and now on loan to the CAPC Musée d'art Contemporain in Bordeaux. This collection was shown in the exhibition Chohreh Feyzdjou, Tout art est en exile at CAPC, Bordeaux
(8 February – 2 September 2007), on which occasion an extensive catalogue about her work was published.

A tribute to the artist was paid on 6 June 1996 at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. On this occasion there were readings by Pennina Barnett, Catherine David, Leïli Echghi, Hou Hanru, Jérôme Sans and myself. Here's my text which was presented with a slide show. (thanks to Tjeu Teeuwen and the people who made contributions for the slide presentation)

Chohreh Feyzdjou and Peninsula 1993 – 1996

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Peter Foolen, and tonight I would like to tell you something about the work of Chohreh Feyzdjou in cooperation with
Peninsula Foundation. Peninsula is an artists' initiative, founded in 1986 in Eindhoven, Holland. We organize exhibitions of contemporary art and publish editions and artists' books.

In 1993 we met Chohreh Feyzdjou for the first time. Coming back from my holiday, my friend and colleague Pieter Alewijns called me on the phone and told me that he liked to introduce me to an artist. I remember it was a hot summer day in August. We were all sitting outside, in the garden of
De Fabriek in Eindhoven, and my friend Pieter introduced me to Chohreh. They had been working together in the workshop Hond & Hamer (Dog and Hammer). The workshop was about printmaking, and artists were invited from al over the world. I was impressed by her work, her wit, her appearance, and her cats: Buddha and Picasso, which she had carried all the way from Paris.
That evening we were discussing the possibilities of producing a personal catalogue about her installation in
De Fabriek. This installation consisted of three parts: a number of standing scrolls of paper wrapped in transparent plastic, a series of hanging bags and numerous pieces of textile wrapped with wire. In the workshop most artists were seriously occupied with printmaking: etching, lithography and silkscreen. Chohreh, however, never made a single print by herself. What she did, was collecting the waste material of other artists: printing proofs, dirty paper, dirty rags and other polluted textiles. All these materials were meticulously transformed into Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou. I was specially struck by her very precise way of working, which was in great contrast with the shabbiness of the materials she was using. In general, what strikes most people in the work of Chohreh Feyzdjou is its blackness. But when I recently looked at these slides again, it occured to me that her work also has very distinct painterly qualities. For the catalogue, we made photographs of all 258 objects which together formed the installation. These pictures were reproduced in the catalogue in the same style as the Dorfmann catalogue: a style typical for Chohreh Feyzdjou, and similar to an oldfashioned, black and white mailorder-book layout, in which every product gets the same attention.
Ten days after we had met, the book could be presented at the opening of the exhibition of
Hond & Hamer. It was produced in an edition of 100 numbered and signed copies. Perhaps a nice detail is the clasp used for binding the book, which was treated with nitric acid to give it the genuine Feyzdjou-look; this pleased her very much. Less happy, however, she was with the transfer on the cover, of which we were especially proud: it should have been the by now well-known purple label saying Product of Chohreh Feyzdjou. This publication was the start of an intense and fruitful collaboration and friendship with Chohreh (the label was never mentioned again).
A few months later, it was December, Pieter Alewijns went to Paris, to bring the products of the workshop to Chohreh. Coming back he gave me a lively report of this visit to her studio in the Rue des Pruniers, numéro 5, where she also lived. This studio was almost completely filled with
Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou, piled to the ceiling, leaving hardly any space to walk or live. Everything was black.
The next time we all met was in Koblenz, Germany, in December 1993, on the opening of her one-person show in the Ludwig Museum. The show impressed us very much, having a very beautiful lay-out; it was very nice to see all her work, that till recently had been stuffed in her studio, now arranged in the tall, white rooms of this museum. The bottles with their mysterious contents, the scrolls of old paintings, the wooden boxes filled with wax and charcoal objects, blackened books with Persian verses, and also a video tape showing the contents of the wrapped up scrolls, ad even a blackened corner looking very much like a kitchen.
After the opening we dicussed in general the next publication: a book with the collected essays on her work and also her participation in the portfolio
Dear Stieglitz, which was to be about the use of photography in the work of contemporary artists.
Early 1994, Chohreh participated in the important group show
Watt, organized by Witte de With, in Rotterdam. After the workshop in Eindhoven, the year before, this was the second time that her work could be seen amongst that of a lot of other interesting young artists, like Douglas Gordon, Sarah Lucas and Gabriel Orozco. On that occasion she mentioned her next exhibition in the Jeu de Paume in Paris, for which a catalogue was planned, containing reproductions of all the Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou. We decided to publish the book with the collected essays as a supplement to this catalogue. Great attention was paid to the label.
The delivery of the book in the Jeu de Paume in Paris, on a fine sunny day in spring, only a few hours before the opening of the show, was facilitated by a passage through the Tuilleries Gardens, giving us the impression that even Charles de Gaulle never had this privilige. In the office of Catharine David we glued the book in its cover, and pasted the label on top. After this we enjoyed a pleasant opening, a nice italian meal and a long conversation over a bottle of whiskey in her studio.
In May that same year
Dear Stieglitz, was published. In this portfolio the work of Chohreh was shown next to contributions by Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Jochen Gerz, Roni Horn and others. The contribution of Chohreh consisted of a photograph made by Dennis Bouchard, showing the mock-up of 2 pages for the catalogue of the Jeu de Paume: a new Product of Chohreh Feyzdjou.
On the occasion of
Heart of Darkness, being her second important group show in Holland, Peninsula published a second, corrected and extended edition of the supplement to the Jeu de Paume catalogue, with the collected essays. This time Chohreh allowed us to label the book with a rubber stamp. In the exhibition Heart of Darkness, organized by Marianne Brouwer of the Kröller-Müller Museum, in Holland, Chohreh showed an installation containing all her work, inside closed wooden boxes, all painted black and piled up, as if made ready for transport. The installation was titled: I don't agree with this show. Outside, in the garden near the main entrance of the museum, she buried a number of her old paintings. She wa happy to show her work with artists like Mona Hatoum and Chen-Zhen. On the opening of Heart of Darkness we proposed to Chohreh to make an one-person show in Peninsula, next summer. She happily agreed to do this show.
After that we met a couple of times in Holland, were she participated in the exhibition
Infections, near Breda, with a very mysterious work amidst the foliage of a century old garden. On one of these occasions we suggested that it would be nice to show in Peninsula her Série B, which originally consisted of about 300 glass bottles, jars and little pots. All glass bottles were shown in a long row, alongside the walls of the gallery, on shelves that were treated with special pigments.
Further, the floor was covered with black coco-nut fibre, a kind of hairy material, she used for the first time for an installation in Bath, England, and several times thereafter. She also used this hair to fill a cardboard box, painted black, that was published as a multiple with this show, in an edition of 50 copies, of which only 25 were actually produced. In a cataloque the complete Série B was reproduced, together with a essay in Dutch and the complete biography of Chohreh Feyzdjou. As well as the invitation card for the exhibition, this cataloque is a
Product of Chohreh Feyzdjou. This time the purple label was produced in silkscreen and rubber stamp. Some weeks later, in november 1995, I showed this Série B again in Maastricht, at the Academy of Visual Arts.
After this show we drove to Paris to bring back all the work. Despite Schengen we were stopped at the French border, where costoms showed a great interest in the contents of the black crates, the bottles and also in the coco-nut fibre that was stuffed in 25 plastic garbage bags. French customs must be great artlovers....but they allowed us into the country. We delivered the work at the Rue Guénégaud, her so-called
Boutique, in Paris.

On a sunday evening in February early this year, Dennis Bouchard telephoned me, and told me that Chohreh had died. This dreadful message shocked us all very much. We went to Paris to attend her funeral, on a bleak winter-day. We will remember the sad day on which we burried her. But above all we remember the pleasant meetings on the fine days in Paris

Thank you for your kind attention.

Peter Foolen / Paris, June 1996

1 comment:

  1. I have a box of her at home. dark.. and good!