By Troy Hasselman, February 14 2020 —
A University of Calgary student has opened a new art installation in response to the shooting down of Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 and the deaths of Iranian protesters, who were violently repressed after thousands of Iranians took to the streets late last year in response to rising fuel prices and government corruption. Hesam Rezaei — a first year masters student in Fine Arts — named his new exhibition Winter, with the title taking inspiration from his recent move to Canada to pursue his masters degree, comparing the cold, Canadian weather with the turmoil in Iran, in what he calls an emotional winter.
“When I came here for the first time, everyone warned me ‘you’re going to have a very tough and crazy winter.’ But now you’re in the middle of winter, and the big issue is just wearing clothes and everything is okay,” Rezaei says. “The real winter is there because that winter is as cold as possible and it’s frustrating and freezing the people and oppressing them. It’s an emotional winter.”
The piece itself involves storing photographs of protestors and the shot down airplane in ice blocks that are placed outside of Macewan Hall and will slowly melt in the coming weeks as the weather warms and spring comes. These ice blocks will melt onto another set of ice blocks that are filled with red food coloring. The ephemeral materials used in the piece represent the fleeting nature of pain and suffering.
“I put some photographs of the people who were on the streets and also the airplane on the ice block, and they are crystallized — you can see the photos from outside,” Razaei explains. “I put the photos outside of MacEwanHall and people can walk through and see them. It’s really cold in Calgary so the ice blocks are still there with no melting, but by-and-by, they will melt.”
The exhibit is located next to the north entrance of Macewan Hall, which was not the originally planned location of the piece to be near the Professional Faculties Building but was unable to secure the location due to construction work that is happening nearby.
“Because they’re doing work on the corridors outside, there are some people on your left then you can see that there is a lot of snow on parts of the cement block,” Rezaei says. “So, the cement blocks are like a cemetery or graveyard, when you look at them. I wanted to use it as a background for the art. But, unfortunately this area wasn’t under the control of university, and was under control of the construction company and they did not allow me to do that. So I changed the place and it’s had some effects on the work.”
The piece also includes a nearby QR code which can be scanned with your phone to obtain more information about the piece and the background to it.
Winter by Hesam Rezaei will be on display outside the north entrance of Macewan Hall by the staircase next to the bookstore while the cold weather lasts.
Note: Hesam Rezaei contributes photos on a volunteer basis for the Gauntlet.