See the Aga Khan Museum in a new light with Ghazaleh Azarzamani’s exhibition *Terms and Conditions Apply.
Visually, 30 stained-glass mosaics overlooking the Museum have little in common with 24 tons of blue rubber mulch — the same kind used in playgrounds to guard children against serious injury — piled into the reflecting pools in the Aga Khan Park.
Delve deeper, though, and you will discover that both installations are clever, eye-catching commentaries on invisible power structures that shape how we navigate the world.
Avarzamani’s creations are the product of her time as the inaugural Aga Khan Museum-Delfina Foundation Artist-in-Residence. While interacting with Museum curators and conservators, she was struck by how many measures were in place to preserve the artifacts in our Collection for future generations. It got her thinking about how the strides taken to protect the objects — from controlling the air temperature to displaying particular works only once every few years — influence the viewer’s experience of visiting an art gallery.
Of course, each of us navigates highly structured, pre-designed environments all the time. Whether we notice it or not, systems of control exist even in seemingly open and free-flowing shared spaces such as parks, malls, government buildings, and public squares. And with *Terms and Conditions Apply, Avarzamani challenges viewers to look out for these systems and reflect on how they might affect our behaviour.
How do these structures guide us, protect us, or enhance our experience? How do they shape our own choices or subtly limit our freedom? Is the trade-off worth it? Avarzamani’s work poses these and other important questions with her new exhibition for the Museum.
Avarzamani was announced in late 2020 as the inaugural Aga Khan Museum-Delfina Foundation Artist-in-Residence. The focus of the residency is to challenge artists to envision and materialize a contemporary response to the Museum’s Collection.
Based in Toronto, Avarzamani was initially supposed to undertake the first part of her residency with Delfina Foundation in London, England. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK-based leg of her residency had to be postponed to 2022. So, with support from the Museum’s curators, conservators, and educators, she went ahead with investigating the Collection with the aim of embedding new ways of relating, understanding, and seeing it into her creations.
As part of her residency, Avarzamani is also contributing to Delfina Foundation’s renowned Collecting as Practice program. Collecting as Practice explores the politics, philosophy, and psychology of collecting in order to commission new research that re-imagines collections as well as the institutions that house them.
Born in Iran in 1979, Ghazaleh Avarzamani moved to Canada in 2016 and has subsequently undertaken residencies at the Banff Centre, MOCA Toronto, SOMA Summer in Mexico City, Red Mansion in Beijing, and Greatmore in Cape Town. She has presented recent solo exhibitions at the MOCA Toronto, Galerie Nicolas Roberts in Montreal, the Koffler Gallery in Toronto, the Ab-Anbar Gallery in Tehran, and Asia House and Light Gallery in London.
After completing her MA in Fine Art at London’s Central Saint Martins in 2013, Avarzamani was nominated for the Mall Galleries’ 2013 Threadneedle Prize. Her large-scale installations and sculptural re-assemblages question power structures by investigating their rules and methodologies while considering a range of spaces for interactivity, self-development, and play.
*Terms and Conditions Apply is presented in collaboration with Delfina Foundation with support from the UK Steering Committee for the Aga Khan Museum.
Curator: Marianne Fenton, Aga Khan Museum
Generously supported by