Ascension Series is a sculptural installation of war crafts - airplanes and drones - that I have witnessed. I examine flight as a physical and spiritual experience, reflecting on childhood memories shaped by conflict.

 

I was born in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war. I remember the sirens and running to the shelter with my parents, and five minutes after that sound of Iraqi jets and exploding bombs. After the war, I was exposed to visual propaganda - large public murals - that honor the pilots, the heroes, who died. These reminders of personal sacrifice ensured that we never forgot all that was lost. It seemed to me that the war never ended.

 

From the Farsi verb Salaka - to follow or travel - a sālik is a follower of Sufism, and sulūk refers to a spiritual pathway. As Atar Neyshapouri describes in the poem Conference of the Birds, flight is both a physical and metaphorical act in which a person detaches from earthly material attachments on a journey to know God. In Ascension Series, I explore flight as sulūk, a personal and political pathway influenced by childhood memories of warplanes and contemporary political tension between the United States and Iran. I consider the 1971 sale of American-made McDonnell Douglas RF-4 Phantoms to Iran, eight years before the Islamic Revolution; the supersonic Gruman F-14 Tomcat; the Martin RQ that was captured by Iranian forces near the northern city of Kashmar. Objects inspired by American warcraft adorned with an Iranian flag, Islamic patterns, and Arabic calligraphy are metaphors for the paradoxical monetary and military history between these two world powers, and a meditation on a flight based on Iranian spiritual practice and poetry.

Keyvan shovir