Hybrid Futures: The Poetics of Water, Jessica El Mal and Parham Ghalamdar at Castlefield Gallery

Hybrid Futures: The Poetics of Water
25 June – 24 Sep 2023
Castlefield Gallery

This exhibition, informed by Hybrid Futures’ specific thematic focus on climate crisis, features new work by Jessica El Mal and Parham Ghalamdar.

El Mal and Ghalamdar share experiences of droughts in Morocco and Iran respectively which contrast with the regular rainfall in Manchester that is often a source of common complaint. In their artistic practice, they regularly draw from research into science, philosophy and literature. The resulting work is often poetic, aiming for a more emotional and expansive experience of its subject matter. 

El Mal’s installation will include imagery derived from prints made by coating large sheets of paper with cyanotype solution and placing them in the stream of the Oud diyal Oukaiimeden, the river found at the highest point of the Oukaiimeden mountain range in Morocco. An accompanying sound piece will combine field and voice recordings including fragments of poetry and a local guide explaining the changes to the water supply, due to industrialisation, in Auberge Dar Sahara in Mhamid El Ghizlane one of the last Oases before the Sahara. El Mal is creating an environment for encounter and contemplation. She finds the western notion of water to be over simplified: reduced to a colourless transparent and tasteless substance, a chemical compound to be owned and sold, used and abused by the demands of colonialism and capitalism to the long-term detriment of the land.

Ghalamdar’s paintings mix realist and cartoon elements; an absurdist strategy that recurs throughout his work, which also includes handmade books, graffiti, ceramics and animation. Following Iranian filmmaker, theatre director, playwright Bahram Beyzaie, Ghalamdar sees water and soil as the two fundamental elements of Persian mythology, where often an antagonist arrives to separate them whilst a protagonist tries to keep them intact. These stories convey the idea that when we add water to the soil we have life, life leads to growth, and growth leads to wisdom. Ghalamdar’s new paintings are colour saturated cross-sections of dystopian landscapes where roots reach down searching for fertile soil and bare branches reach up and stretch out towards each other. 

The work featured in this exhibition shift across time and place. The artists want to the visitor to look deeply, across landscapes, borders, centuries and worlds and to expand thinking about the fundamental elements of soil and water.

Watch artists Jessica El Mal and Parham Ghalamdar discuss their work in the exhibition, The Poetics of Water at Castlefield Gallery here.

“Ghalamdar signals a warning in these new works while El Mal offers an alternative way. In her practice of working collectively, El Mal recognises that all her work is produced within an interdependent community. This is a reflection of the great need for cooperative will and action, globally.”

READ: Charu Vallabhbhai reviews The Poetics of Water at Castlefield Gallery in the latest of Hybrid Future’s commissioned reviews.

Hybrid Futures: The Poetics of Water at Castlefield Gallery

Castlefield Gallery

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