Shahryah Nashat, a Swiss artist based in Berlin, works in video, photography, sculpture and installation. For Random Acts, Shahryah has produced the film Knee Bruised Left Edged, which will screen on Channel 4 on 12 October. This short film accommodates the viewer's gaze, drawing our attention to look and reflect on a subject that would ordinarily be taken in fleetingly, with a furtive glance.
In his other work, Shahryah has dealt with power-relations and issues of collection and display. In his 2008 exhibition Placed for High Dramatic Impact, Shahryah looks at the monument as an item of conflict and precariousness. The featured artwork of this exhibition, titled Downscaled and Overthrown, consisted of a black marble plinth resting on another plinth, memorialising the absent, overthrown symbols of power that once asserted their dominance in seeming immortality. Also in this exhibition, Shahryah presented cropped downloaded images of classical bronze sculptures, focussing in on their shins and calves. Toying with the idea of weaknesses in powerful figures as a catalyst for change, Shahryah brings to mind issues of rebellion and transformation, perhaps questioning the very validity of intentional monuments. Read a discussion on this work from Frieze Magazine.
At the Venice Biennale 2011, Shahryah presented the short video piece, Factor Green. This work showed the artist in a museum in front of a Tintoretto painting, unwrapping a package. Inside the package is revealed a vibrant green plinth, which the artist (as the subject) moves about and circles around, intrigued, before it finally levitates of its own accord towards the painting. This playful piece compounds concepts of the gallery and viewership, simultaneously subverting and upholding traditional modes of display - the bench that is placed to sit on to watch this work is actually supplied by the artist; is it therefore a gallery bench, or a piece of the artwork? When you sit on the bench, are you too a part the artwork?
Shahryah's video work often emphasises staging and rehearsal, featuring the performative aspect of his pieces. Interested in the way the body interacts and exists within space, he stresses the importance of combining a variety of different mediums when he approaches a subject. When creating a work, Shahryah is therefore concerned not only with the subject, but with the way the body interacts with the media he uses - be that the the sculpture, video, still photo or installation - all of which inform one another as a crucial element of the piece. Speaking on his work for Sculptural Matter, a recent exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Shahryah described this and other qualities that guide his work at the Australian Center for Contemporary Art.
Dominic Eichler talks more about the performative element in Shahryah's work in a review of his 2007 work Plaque (Slab), which required the creation of a gigantic concrete slab, set against and in tribute to a performance from Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.
Tune into Channel 4 to see Shahryah Nashat's film, and book your tickets for Random Acts: Artist Interventions into Broadcast, a day-long feast of artist film and interventions at FACT on 26 October.