Artcity Festival 2020
Submissions open Nov. 1st to March 9th

Around Town

Mohammed Mossadegh's House Arrest Dream by Travis Murphy

        We accept the real so readily only because we sense that reality does not exist.

        -Jorge Luis Borges

The deposition of the Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh* in 1953, marked the first covert operative by a Western democratic nation (the United States) to deter the burgeoning of democracy, in a sovereign state. Mossadegh’s dissenting Nationalism, and determination to secure oil royalties for his people, equivalent to Iran’s enormous output, pitted him against the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; Britain’s largest corporation. The press, which Mossadegh refused to censor, was reportedly four-fifths Central Intelligence propaganda, and condemnations of the first Middle Eastern democratically-elected leader through bribery. Staged rallies, mock pro-Shah marches, and clueless athletes paid by U.S. cloak-and-dagger agents, fatefully abolished democratic reforms, and ushered Iran into a spectacle of staged National sentiment that theorist Jean Baudrillard would assert is a powerplay being cast in a desert of the real, wherein meaning is usurped by representation.

Here, Mossadegh endures, skilfully relaying his mind. With his towering, but slight frame, and his distinct features, Mossadegh resembles at once an elder statesman, and the spiteful eminence of the undead filmic icon of Nosferatu – eternal symbol of human predator. The former Iranian leader often bled from the mouth, and became severely depressed. He was unwavering in instituting parliamentary reform in his ancient country, and stolid in the face of international influence. The cowboy and the vampire enquire into their illusory roles in the somnian landscape, lucid in its historicity, tracing our return, as if each were executing a kind of haunting, at our collective windows. The future fumes. From the Abadan stacks, and the northern tar mine.

The ‘maverick’ province of Alberta, Canada’s wealthiest, embodied in the figure of the cowboy, looms on the global stage as world oil producer, with its lexicon of self-mythologies, unidirectional state governance, and commitment to liquidating its carbon resources as expediently as possible. The polarity of the personification of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ becomes null through a qualitative plane of cardboard cut-outs, lurking behind the curtain as the absence of the real lurks in the heart of reality. In this public space, the false hauntings of a troubled historical icon become an arena wherein the mythologized cowboy, characterized by toughness and outlaw justice, enables its counter-point – the Law – which deters a reordering of the sign cowboy. No further from the surface, the vampire who deletes life to sustain life, short-circuits into a self-devouring mechanism, addicted to the energy that consumes it. Imperial Empire and Nation State prey upon the symbols they produce, as smoke and flares - flags to an eventless horizon – produce the spectacle of dream history.

Travis Murphy is a visual artist and arts writer, who lives in Calgary.

December 10 - January 9
The Ledge at the Epcor Centre , 205- 8th Avenue SE

The Ledge is located at the top of the stairs adjacent to the Epcor Centre's central court and the One Yellow Rabbit ticket office.

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