The politics don’t swarm out at you from Nanda Sharifpour’s installation One, on view in a large corner window of Soho Lofts, Las Vegas Boulevard and Hoover Avenue. A six-line poem, rendered in English and Farsi and backlit by bright, changing colors, One offers its commentary quietly, by induction; if you prefer political art delivered like a sack of doorknobs, walk nine minutes to Main Street for Izaac Zevalking’s mural Chain Migration (Lady Liberty bent over the hood of an ICE vehicle).
But make no mistake, Sharifpour means for One to be viewed through the lenses of current events, even if its topicality comes by way of 13th-century Persian poet Saadi Shirazi. His lines (sample: “All human beings are members of one frame / since all, at first, from the same essence came”) are a wisdom-of-the-past plea for the cross-cultural recognition of everyone’s common humanity. It’s underscored by the cycling colors, color being one rather obvious notion that divides us. Such are the times that if you stand there long enough, absorbing what should be a simple, not-at-all-contentious sentiment, multiple contexts eventually barge in to complicate it, turning the 763-year-old verse into a very contemporary critique: Why do we — why do you, the viewer — “feel not for others’ misery”? Add to any day’s headlines and shake thoroughly.
Born in Iran, now living in Las Vegas, Sharif-pour conceived the piece around the same time the U.S. assassinated Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, President Trump threatening to bomb the country’s “cultural sites” if it retaliated. In a video about the making of One, she says the surging tensions between her homeland and her home “pressured my heart.” > Read More