In Where Spirit And Semen Met Golshiri incorporates a portrait of infamous French poet Arthur Rimbaud – the archetypical tormented artist, who in his travels notoriously introduced himself as “I is an other”. Golshiri appropriates this reference in the philosophical sense, the ‘other’ being the self, contrasting the idea of “be yourself” against Iran’s post-revolutionary policy of unanimity or social uniformity that ‘purged’ society of ‘undesirables’ or those who didn’t ‘fit in’. Coupling the photograph with a blue curtain which spatially cuts through and shrouds the face of the subject, Golshiri puts forth the concept that the other can be anyone. The words ‘shroud’, ‘curtain’, ‘screen’ (as in cinema screen) and ‘hymen’ are the same in Persian and Golshiri uses this play on words to intersect ideas of anonymity, power, and identity. The blue curtain is a recurring motif in Golshiri’s work; the omnipresent backdrop to religious and political broadcast in Iran, it is synonymous with nationalism, and serves a practical function as a ‘blue screen’ where subliminal propaganda messages can be inserted. The title of the piece comes from both secular and religious philosophy: in early Christian doctrine, semen conveys the spirit from God, synthesising body and soul, a concept echoed in the theories of Descartes where ‘soul’, ‘personhood’ or ‘identity’ were thought to reside within and be symbolically realised within bodily matter.

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