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Panteha Abareshi at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery
February 4, 2021 - April 22, 2021
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery is currently hosting a set of online exhibitions and one of them is Panteha Abareshi’s “Tender Calamities.” The show features two videos (that you can stream online) as well as documentation of sculptural works. Like the contradictions in the show’s title, the work oscillates between bodily care, restriction, modification, and ultimately limitations, providing a sharp critique on the ableist norms that pervade contemporary culture. “Unlearn the Body,” features a video of Abareshi acrobatically interacting with a walker, using it as a prop to contort their body into a series of yogaesque positions. The video plays as a series of scratchy clips interlaced with distorted medical diagrams that kaleidoscopically swirl together into unreadable patterns. As the film progresses, Abareshi uses cords and crutches, but rather than propping the body up, they become constraints that seem to further limit movement. Towards the end of the video, the artist’s feet are constrained by a yellow cord that is affixed to the wall, and while trying to balance on two crutches, Abareshi dramatically falls. The work speaks to the oppressive ideal body that calls for us to adhere to specific medical protocols that ultimately break down and limit the body’s ability to function.
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Photo: Panteha Abareshi, “Unlearn the Body,” video, TRT: 4:56, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.