'Penumbra' will be published by VOID as part of ‘Bleak House’ project, Curated by Brad Feuerhelm.




Early January. A suffocating smoke has enveloped the city. The sun is burnt orange, barely visible. You can barely breathe, even here. Bushfires are burning across eastern Australia. Images of blazing orange waves devouring everything, flicking red ashes into the heavens (painted black, both day and night) play on every television. Suddenly the pictures are interrupted by the image of the burning wreckage of a car carrying an assassinated Iranian army general. Killed by a US airstrike in Iraq. We watch waiting for Iran to retaliate. State television broadcasts images of missiles striking a US airbase. We wait. Then pictures of the burnt wreckage of a passenger plane shot down by mistake. Of protestors filling the streets. Of burning flags and teargas.

The smoke has barely settled. And now an invisible virus is slowly spreading across the globe like those unstoppable fires in Australia. Iran is defenceless. Glimpses of images of white clouds of disinfectant filling scared empty streets. Images of doctors collapsed on hospital floors, and of rows and rows of white shrouded bodies. Exhausted. Suffocated. Now a video of an innocent man pleading he cannot breathe sparks protests across America. They spread across the West like a wildfire. Rows of masked policemen are sent to smother them.

Fire.

Smoke.

Images.

Suffocation.

This work is a response to these events and images - images which for me seem blurred like light-shadows, like a penumbra. The title is based on that of a collection of stories by the Iranian novelist Sadeq Hedayat. In one of them he describes a future society in which the light of total human progress casts its own shadow, a society in which humans are unable to touch, love or communicate except virtually.

Hedayat committed suicide—gassed himself—in 1951.

Penumbra is included in ‘Bleak House’, a project curated by Brad Feuerhelm, to be published as a collection of 12 zines by 12 photographic artists who responded to the first half of 2020. The pdf of this work can be downloaded on Void’s website now.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57c33dbd2e69cfce27897216/t/5fb54c41a271131a0f584db5/1605717111630/Bleakhouse+VII+Hoda+Afshar.pdf