The Breeder is pleased to present Phantasmagoria: Daddy Kills More People, Mamali Shafahi’s first solo exhibition in Athens. Mamali Shafahi is a visual artist and filmmaker whose practice ranges from sculpture to performance art and video installation. He is interested in how new technologies have transformed everything. In this context, he seeks to build bridges between the past and the future – specifically generations and cultures, but also between techniques and materials.
The artist’s ‘Daddy Sperm’ project, initiated in 2012, has underpinned his practice, including his sculptural works, since then. The project looks at ‘the miracle of life’, the generational generosity of transmitting and creating life between people, bridging the past and future. In the artist’s own words, it questions ‘how a drop of liquid becomes a human being’. As an initial aspect of this project, Shafahi collaborated with his father Reza Shafahi, who is not an artist but a retired wrestler. He asked his father to start drawing, to explore how the latter’s work might relate to his own. This intimate, familial interaction manifests itself within the artist’s signature ‘Heirloom Velvet’ sculpture series, with imagery from his father’s drawings appearing in the work, as well as the physical drawings present in his installations.
Phantasmagoria, as a term, describes the artist’s perception of contemporaneity where, in the realm of visual entertainment, the boundaries between reality and imagination blur. Shafahi’s works dive into the imaginary spectrum as he translates the almost naïf characters of Reza’s drawings into flocked epoxy hand-sculpted faces that provide a getaway to the realms of fantasy while paying tribute to the Iranian heritage. Within a mesmerizing spectacle of optical illusions the viewers are transported beyond their everyday experience into a state of balancing between the magical and the terrible. The installation is enhanced by one of the artist’s characteristic fluorescent grids, that interplays with UV and white lightning to immerse the audience in a fascinating achronycal frenzy, in which utterly analogical mediums simulate a digital environment.
To some extent, “Daddy” has gradually become a synonym of power and the concept of patriarchy. Daddy Kills More People eventually mirrors the political movement in Iran but also elaborates a wider comment on the way power structures kill people on a global level.
In a world filled with distractions and constant stimuli, Phantasmagoria: Daddy Kills More People offers a momentary escape, it reminds us of the endless possibilities of the human mind as the extraordinary becomes possible, and the ordinary fades into insignificance.
Press release from The Breeder
Image: Mamali Shafahi. Installation view of Phantasmagoria: Daddy Kills More People at The Breeder, Athens, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist