Erased Images of a Work About Historical Erasure is the first solo exhibition of Bita Razavi in the Netherlands. It is a travelling exhibition that brings together the censored elements in Razavi’s installation commissioned for the Estonian pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. In 2022, the Netherlands moved its pavilion off-site and handed over the keys of the Gerrit Rietveld Pavilion at the foot of the main Giardini exhibition hall to Estonia’s commissioners. This gesture appeared like a symbolic act of one of the “major” representative nations handing over its privileged location to a small and young country on the Eastern border of the European Union. The accepted proposal questioned the Netherland’s own historic standing and its relationship with Eastern Europe and the Global South via its colonial and extractive history.
Bita Razavi’s work Kratt – Diabolo No. 3 was intended to hold a series of archival photographs showing destroyed landscapes in the Dutch East Indies documenting conditions of colonial extraction of labour and soil due to the over-exploitation of natural resources. Shortly before the opening, they were removed without the artist’s consent resulting in the presentation of an incomplete work. The presented sculpture and video, adapted to the space at afgeP/////AKT, reveals what was not allowed to be shown in the cultural capital of the country which initiated the contested colonial histories that continue to affect global interrelations in every part of the world.
Razavi’s erased images have now been shown in a 2-year travelling exhibition that began in her hometown of Tehran. Through this series of exhibitions, the artist attempts to shed light on the complexities that emerge when European colonial history is narrated solely from a European perspective and within a European context. There exist tendencies to erase or highlight specific aspects and perspectives of history. Razavi also aims to place the existing hierarchies and structures of the art world on display to visualise the inherent contradictions between criticism and structure that enable these erasures to take place. The work takes a poised and blunt position aiming at the contradictions within the state of artistic critical discourse and specifically those within the exhibition of the Estonian Pavilion, Orchidelirium – An Appetite for Abundance.
Bita Razavi (1983) is a multidisciplinary artist best known for her autofictional practice centred around observations and reflections on a variety of everyday situations. While working as a cleaner in Helsinki, Razavi photographed traces of design in Finnish homes observing them as a manifestation of national identity (2010). She married her schoolmate in her studio at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts to address Finnish immigration policies (2011) and spent four years renovating two houses in Estonia to study the Soviet renovation materials throughout years of changing economic and political situations (2019). Razavi was the recipient of Oskar Öflunds Foundation’s grand prize in 2017. She represented Estonia at the 59th Venice Biennale together with Kristina Norman.
Àngels Miralda (1990) is an independent writer and curator. Her recent exhibitions have taken place at Something Else III (Cairo Biennale); Garage Art Space (Nicosia); Tallinn Art Hall (Estonia), MGLC – International Centre for Graphic Arts (Ljubljana), De Appel (Amsterdam), Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic (Zagreb), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chile (Santiago), Museu de Angra do Heroísmo (Terceira – Azores), and the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (Riga). Miralda regularly publishes her writing for Terremoto (Mexico City), A*Desk (Barcelona), Arts of the Working Class (Berlin), and is editor-in-chief at Collecteurs (New York).
Funded by Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst and Post Theatre Collective.
Bita Razavi: Erased Images of a Work About Historical Erasure at Monnaie de Paris
Up: Kratt – Bita Razavi: Diabolo Nº3 at the 2nd Helsinki Biennale, 2023 / Down: Bita Razavi: The censored sculpture at the Estonian Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennale, 2022