See the Aga Khan Museum in a new light with Ghazaleh Azarzamani’s exhibition *Terms and Conditions Apply.
Visually, 30 stained-glass mosaics overlooking the Museum have little in common with 24 tons of blue rubber mulch — the same kind used in playgrounds to guard children against serious injury — piled into the reflecting pools in the Aga Khan Park.
Delve deeper, though, and you will discover that both installations are clever, eye-catching commentaries on invisible power structures that shape how we navigate the world.
A look ‘behind the scenes’
Avarzamani’s creations are the product of her time as the inaugural Aga Khan Museum-Delfina Foundation Artist-in-Residence. While interacting with Museum curators and conservators, she was struck by how many measures were in place to preserve the artifacts in our Collection for future generations. It got her thinking about how the strides taken to protect the objects — from controlling the air temperature to displaying particular works only once every few years — influence the viewer’s experience of visiting an art gallery.
Of course, each of us navigates highly structured, pre-designed environments all the time. Whether we notice it or not, systems of control exist even in seemingly open and free-flowing shared spaces such as parks, malls, government buildings, and public squares. And with *Terms and Conditions Apply, Avarzamani challenges viewers to look out for these systems and reflect on how they might affect our behaviour.
How do these structures guide us, protect us, or enhance our experience? How do they shape our own choices or subtly limit our freedom? Is the trade-off worth it? Avarzamani’s work poses these and other important questions with her new exhibition for the Museum.
New collaborative residency
Avarzamani was announced in late 2020 as the inaugural Aga Khan Museum-Delfina Foundation Artist-in-Residence. The focus of the residency is to challenge artists to envision and materialize a contemporary response to the Museum’s Collection.
Based in Toronto, Avarzamani was initially supposed to undertake the first part of her residency with Delfina Foundation in London, England. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK-based leg of her residency had to be postponed to 2022. So, with support from the Museum’s curators, conservators, and educators, she went ahead with investigating the Collection with the aim of embedding new ways of relating, understanding, and seeing it into her creations.
As part of her residency, Avarzamani is also contributing to Delfina Foundation’s renowned Collecting as Practice program. Collecting as Practice explores the politics, philosophy, and psychology of collecting in order to commission new research that re-imagines collections as well as the institutions that house them.