Books to See and Feel

Masoumeh Mohtadi, “Heart of a Dog” (2017), hand-bound origami books on cardboard and thinner, and printed text 15.7 x 11.8 x 1.8 inches, photograph by Aidin Baftechi

I, like most of the world, have experienced the last ten months from a distance. Avoiding physical closeness in public spaces has become a collective reflex for most of us, all while everyday we crave it more. How strange, then, to be invited to an exhibition that encourages, even necessitates, touch. Out of Sight, Beyond Touch opened in January at the Center for Book Arts in New York City. Curated by Maryam Ghoreishi, the exhibition takes on the timely task of investigating the role of haptics in art and life. Although the symbiotic relationship between sight and touch is the show’s stated subject, it seems to be just as much about translation — between verbal and visual, between visual and physical, and between perceptible and comprehendible. The works by Masoumeh Mohtadi, Shirin Salehi, Bahman Mohammadi, and Amina Ahmed investigate the generative potential of these forms of translation, as well as the rifts in communication they cannot repair.

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