Nazgol Ansarinia’s words are simple and to the point and though she is one of Iran’s most talked about artists, her manner is reserved. Since returning to Tehran in 2005 after studying in London and San Francisco, she has made the Iranian capital the subject of her work. “My perfect Tehran would have clean air, more trees, more sidewalks and less aggressive drivers,” says Ansarinia. She reflects on daily life through household items like newspapers, plates, chairs and carpets. “I want to take these banal objects apart and reveal something hidden in the layers,” she explains.
In her series Mendings (2011–12), she slices through furniture and ceramic plates and sticks each side together again, often combining these objects with traditional designs and ornamentation. The result is an everyday object that looks familiar, but not quite. Her piece, Patterns, awarded the Abraaj Group Art Prize in 2009, weaves scenes from contemporary daily life in Iran into traditional Persian rugs. These tableaux tell the story of Ansarinia’s first year back in Tehran, seeing the city as an adult. “It was hard,” she recalls of her first job at the state-run Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. “Though it is a museum, it was like working in any bureaucratic government office.”