In transplanting familiar edifices in the midst of upheaval, within landscapes often barren of life, Pouria Khojastehpay manipulates a degraded and dystopian atmosphere.

Pouria Khojastehpay, <i>Dustwound</i>, 2016
“We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone. But how far that future may be, there is no knowing.” (George Orwell, 1984)
“Dystopian” is a description often lavished upon 1984, Orwell’s classic work of literature. So too it is often used to epitomise images by Iranian artist, Pouria Khojastehpay, the title of which, Dustwound, was roused by Orwell’s words from the novel, above.
In Khojastehpay’s hands, Orwell’s ‘handfuls of dust’ are translated into desolate, desert landscapes, and mounds of mass rubble hinting at mankind’s capacity of creation and simultaneous destruction. The ‘splinters of bone’ are buildings in half-states of degradation, jutting out in angles no stable monument or ligament should, giving double meaning to their brutalist style. When the two are juxtaposed, the narrative examines human beings quest for longevity through the architecture it creates, and its destructive effects both aesthetically and environmentally on the land it inhabits.


In transplanting familiar edifices in the midst of upheaval, within landscapes often barren of life, the artist manipulates a degraded atmosphere that a dystopia almost always suggests. In doing so, the structures rebound into their bereft surroundings the Ballardian perspective that “this was an environment built, not for man, but man’s absence.”

And yet Khojastehpay’s plans for Dustwound is for it to “become a small book about futures of the recent past”. When looked at through this lens, perhaps the destruction we witness in his images, which cannot be located in a specific time or space, is a moment on the cyclical pathway towards re-generation – to quote Orwell again – We are the dead. Our only true life is the future. Khojastehpay leaves this ambiguity of interpretation to the past and futures within each of us.
Pouria Khojastehpay is a Dutch/Iranian artist and photographer, currently living in The Netherlands. He was born in 1993 in Shiraz, Iran before spending a large part of his childhood in a Dutch refugee camp. The artist’s work was originally influenced by Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA, and later novels by Paul Virilio, Philip K. Dick, George Orwell and J.G. Ballard. 

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