The Book of Fading Memories
June 9, 2023 – July 22, 2023
Growing up in Iran, the highly political atmosphere of society and constant turmoil in the region manifested themselves in Mohammad Tabesh’s memories. He remembers the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88, including mass arrests of political activists, widespread imprisonments and executions with no fair trial. The Orwellian censorship imposed on his generation and the continuous religious propaganda experienced throughout his early education have made him a vigilant observer of the intimate moments between horror and humour. As a storyteller, he strives to find a common language to share our stories of resistance and perseverance.
In this work, The Book of Fading Memories, Tabesh collects some of his memories of war, violence and censorship into a hand-printed, limited-edition artist’s book. Each story is told from two parallel viewpoints. While a poem portrays how he sees the event today, an image illustrates his perspective as a child on the opposite page. Tabesh’s approach to writing poetry is brief and honest. By abandoning description and providing the essential elements, he invites readers to envisage these memories through their own eyes. Broken verses encourage them to live the experience instead of merely reading the stories. Tabesh has developed a narrative visual language through tracing, line drawing, and bande dessinée or graphic novel approach.
In light of the recent women-led uprising in Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the so-called Morality Police, telling stories of trauma and resilience is relevant more than ever.
Mohammad Tabesh (he/him) is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist whose work delves into the complexities of the human experience, resistance, and social change. Across various media, including writing, printmaking, multimedia, and sculpture, Tabesh strives to convey profoundly human and universal stories. As an artist, Tabesh is committed to using his work as a vehicle for social change and encourages viewers to engage with his pieces personally and creatively. With a unique ability to blend the personal and political, his work offers a powerful commentary on the human condition.
Tabesh’s work has been recognized with several Canada Council for the Arts grants and an Access Copyright Foundation grant. He earned his BFA from OCAD University and was honoured as the recipient of the university’s Sculpture and Installation Medal in 2020. In 2022, he was accepted as an Artist-in-Residence for ceramics at Harbourfront Centre.
Produced with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Access Copyright Foundation.