I only knew a handful of things about my whiskered grandfather who lived across the salted seas: he was respected & wise, he loved the natural world and adventured all over Iran in his beloved Chevy Blazer, and he owned a “factory.” Raised here in the States, all I could imagine was the perpetual billowing of fluffy white or dirty dark grey, slabs of concrete and click clack machinery, whistles and punchcards and lines of men with Iranian lunchpails filled with saffron rice and onion chicken, lots o’ fruit, and of course the break room with a giant Giant-sized samovar ornate and intricate as the liquid heart of the factory and it’s men. I had seen pictures of the tenement garment factories of New York, formerly New Amsterdam, formerly Manna-hata (the "land of many hills”), formerly no name but part of the fabric of life filled with gods and goddesses and great beings of all densities singing and swaying and sleeping under the same sun-lit sky and living uninterrupted according to their natures. Clear as today I still remember footage of the great Detroit assembly lines where mustached men ( I ❤️ the 70’s!) gave their hands to the giant claw that lifted and pushed and pulled and put into place the thousand and one parts needed to marry into the medley of motorization known as the wondrous automobile.
When first re-visiting my birthland, I was so excited to visit “the factory“ and meet this great chimney stack that I had heard about for 25 years. Lo and behold - it was a shop with four hands greased! At first I thought I had been duped… “Why do all Persians make a mountain out of a molehill?… This is not a factory… ” and so on and more. In Farsi, the word for factory is “work-house.” Yes, actually it was a work house where lovely greazy hairy dark skinned short strong men who politely gazed indirectly towards a visiting woman gave their hands and backs to assemble industrial ranges for dignitaries and embassies and hotels and mostly European & North American expansion as most Iranians can easily (and always have) feast a wedding weekend, a holy day, a clan day (around 40-100 I’d say), a guests night, or any night deliciously without breaking a sweat, especially on the saddle of a Clydesdale range. Their home fires held the powerful embers found in the lineage of rings, the pressurized plant remains called coal, and even the desiccated forage frayed into feces that litters, actually loves arid mountain rock and sands. Those native fire-breathing dragons were known as well as the back of any hand by people who know hands! And so I learn “factory” … U.S. of A. 80’s style, then 1990's style while working in a fishery in Kodiak, Alaska, post revolutionary Iran style (2000), and now-not-now style in looking at the root of the word from Latin meaning “to do.” A place where things get done, and did, and made, and most often for trade. But always in my mind I see what you may see… the fluffy cloud atop a cylindrical steed, a workhouse for the workforce - all without prayer beads.
After creating this collage I took ten or so pictures throughout the day capturing the variance in light from the natural movements of the sun through the glass, as well as several electrically lit frames. To my amazement, every single picture showed different colors and textures and shapes and feel and image. So many faces to this one creature. Yes the perspective of life is always 360 degrees on one plane multiplied by by another 360 on a second plane, and so on and so on which makes me wonder how in the heck is any perspective retained for longer than a nanosecond? What is the imprint, who does the embossing? What kind of glue sticks so good and leaves a mean tear mark that needs a huff and puff buff and polish in it’s aftermath? How did perspective get to be static and non-imaginary in the predominating accepted reality? Wait… I choose the print? Which image captured do I want to reign supreme and send forth as my creation… purple hue, polka dotty, pretty, primitive? Which is to be presented as permanent publicly? Which one do I make more real?
… a strange new power discovered and dictated by “the factory.”
On the Shelf