Bahar Behbahani: All water has a perfect memory

When 15 Sep 2019 - 1 Dec 2019
Where Wave Hill
675 West 252nd Street
Bronx, NY 10471
United States

Opening: September 15, 2-4:30pm

Iranian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Bahar Behbahani takes a poetic approach to using water and garden imagery to help us connect to “invisible stories—the physical or spiritual traces and patterns on nature which our ancestors left us.” The installation—All water has a perfect memory.—explores on Wave Hill’s Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland, an eight-acre wooded slope of the garden with a half-mile trail ambling through it.

Behbahani’s installation, opening September 15 at Wave Hill, revives generated@wavehill, a program that invites artists to create temporal artwork engaging with Wave Hill’s site and programs. Past generated@wavehill projects have included both visual and performing arts commissions. Future projects will highlight different aspect of Wave Hill and expand opportunities for arts programming that engage with the gardens are significant initiatives of Wave Hill’s strategic plan for the next seven years.

As part of her generated@wavehill project, Behbahani tracks the underground water systems within the garden’s ecosystem, and led workshops to prompt discussion about local and global water concerns. To undertake the tracking, the artist has collaborated with several groups of Wave Hill interns and students. Forest Project and Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship interns are all active in the woodlands; Wave Hill’s Art, Community and Environmental Stewards (ACES), CUNY Corps and Bloomberg interns work at the garden’s weekly Family Art Project. Students and interns are researching eight of the world’s contested rivers—including the Hudson―identifying native and non-native plants and logs that are part of erosion control in the woodland. The ACES interns will act as stewards of the project throughout the fall. They have developed images and stories that will be incorporated into the octagon’s carved panels and will be part of a zine that they are producing. A brochure and map will also be produced, and will include an essay by writer Lilly Wei.

A reference to the Mississippi River, All water has a perfect memory comes from a phrase in Toni Morrison’s essay The Site of Memory: “All water has a perfect memory and it is forever trying to get back to where was.” The focal point of the installation is an octagonal pool mounted on plastic barrels, suggesting a floating raft to be used for an emergency move to the river. It is located on Wave Hill’s Conifer Slope, leading to the northern entry point to the woodland. Each side of the raft references a conflicted river―the Euphrates, Ganges, Hudson, Karun, Mississippi, Nile, Rio Grande and Wouri. The pool’s interior is surfaced with tiles sourced from construction projects. While the pool’s structure projects symmetry and balance in a multicultural and spiritual habitat, the barrels on which the raft is mounted introduce the element of uncertainty. A second component of the installation focuses on the gazebo located midway through the woodland, transforming it into a site for meditation and infusing it with recordings of sounds associated with the eight, contested rivers. Finally, a portable, eight-panel partition will be introduced at the Family Art Project on September 21 and 22. It will be used for storytelling, either in the intimate space of an octagon or opened wide as a backdrop.

Related Public Programs 

Free with admission to the grounds. 

Sunday, September 15, 2-:4:30PM

Fall Exhibitions Opening

For the opening, a musical piece by Afro-Polka Ensemble will be performed by four musicians. They will interpret the rivers by weaving and improvising with voice, percussion and bass guitar. Beginning at different points in the woodland, they will respond to each other’s calls, eventually congregating around the octagonal pool to perform the final arrangement, a collective tribute to the rivers. The performers are: Maciek Schejbal from Poland – musical direction and percussion; Kaïssa Doumbè from Cameroon – voice; Samuel Torres from Colombia – percussion; and Jerome Harris from the US – bass guitar.

Saturday, Sunday, September 21, 22, 10AM-1PM 

Family Art Project: To Be A River/Family Art Project

Join the stream for a workshop with exhibiting artist Bahar Behbahani, creating water movements and writing a flow of poetries to celebrate the rivers we are.

Saturday, November 2, 3PM 

Woodland Walk

Sharpen your senses and the trace water-flow in the woodland with generated@wavehill artist Behar Behbahani.

About the Artist 

Through her research-based practice Bahar Behbahani approaches landscape as a metaphor for politics and poetics. She works in a range of media—such as painting, video, installation and performative talks—to layer Western archival matters, cartography, horticultural history, and our contemporary position into a new hybrid narrative. Her solo exhibitions include Let the Garden Eram Flourish, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; Garden Coup, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, NY; and The Short Films of Bahar Behbahani, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI. She an Open Sessions artist at The Drawing Center and will be part What’s Love Got to Do with It? on view August 16–September 15, 2019. Her work has been presented in numerous group exhibitions including EMPAC, Troy, NY; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; 7th Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art; 11th Shanghai Biennale. Behbahani is a recipient of a 2019 Creative Capital award for Ispahan Flowers Only Once and participated in The Brown Foundation Fellows Program at the Dora Maar Hous in Ménerbes, France; MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH; Time Equities’ Art-in-Buildings Residency in New York, NY, among others. She earned her BFA in Painting from Alzahara University and her MFA in Painting from Azad University of Art both in Tehran, Iran.

Image courtesy of the organizer.

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