Frieze Masters: Sonia Balassanian | Hostages: A Diary

12 - 16 October 2022 
Frieze Masters, Spotlight Section S11
One of Iran’s foremost artists, Sonia Balassanian has long joined together in her work, elements of poetry, calligraphy, and field painting. Balassanian’s art changed significantly in the late 1970’s. Instead of hovering, radiating fields of calligraphic-like strokes, she turned her attention to the Iranian Revolution and the American hostage crisis in Iran. Even though her imagery is political in focus, it is not partisan in outlook. She treads the narrow line between opposing sides to express her outrage at the eroding human condition. Her images are icons of crisis; they are like weathered billboards containing a variety of disconsonant slogans and banners, overlaid, scratched out and marked up. Her art deals with the look of revolution. With the confluence of personal, historical, cultural, and newsworthy information that has become part of her life. Sonia's Hostage series all created in 1980 were the stating point of her approach to political art, now one of her main approaches in her practice. Implicit in her work is the suggestion that a revolution is not something that is out there, that is merely political and legislative; a revolution affects everyone coming in contact with it. She has symbolized this fact appropriately by turning herself into hostage. She is blindfolded, locked into situations beyond her reckoning. These works were exhibited in 1980 at Elise Meyer Gallery and have not been shown since.