"Ecotone is an observation of how fracture can be transformational. Often things are planned, assumed, and expected – until suddenly, something breaks and shifts everything."
Unseen Platform: Could you briefly introduce your project, Ecotone? Where does the title come from?
Morvarid K: Ecotone is an observation of how a fracture can be transformational. Often things are planned, assumed, and expected – until suddenly, something breaks and shifts everything. The project is about acknowledging the impact of the broken fragments, instead of trying to push them away or pretend the fracture never happened. It is about finding beauty and acceptance in fracture.
The name Ecotonecame after the project was finished. Once the kintsugi (the Japanese technique of mending broken pottery with precious metals) was placed on all the borders of the fragmented photographs, it made me recall the beautiful word ‘ecotone’. This is an ecology term that refers to a region of transition between two natural habitats, which is often richer in species than either environment alone. And since my compositions look like islands of existence, I thought Ecotonewas the perfect name for the project.
Ecotone follows the installation performance of Cassures Sublimées (Sublimated Breaks), for which you collaborated with Yuko Kaseki and Sherwood Chen. How did you find collaborating with other artists? Did you already have Ecotone in mind when you created the performance?
Yes, the project was imagined this way from the beginning. First came Cassures Sublimées, which researched ‘the breaking point’ and its effect, emotions and transformation through a performance installation with the wonderful Yuko Kaseki and Sherwood Chen. Cassures Sublimées used printed photographs as raw materials, which were torn apart in the dance performance. Then came Ecotone, a composition made from the fragmented photographs left behind by Cassures Sublimées.
As for the collaboration, I absolutely loved it. This wasn’t our first collaboration; the three of us enjoy working together at different levels, based on each project’s needs. It’s always incredible, especially because we don’t come from the same discipline yet we have similar multi-cultural backgrounds and share an interest in the same themes.
For the series, you’ve combined photo collage with the Japanese technique of kintsugi. What inspired you to use this technique?
Kintsugi is a Japanese philosophy and an ancestral technique I have known for many years. When I started working on the idea of cassure(French for break or fracture) and its beauty and poetry, I was looking for a technique other than simple collage to reunite my fragmented photographs. It was then that I remembered kintsugi.
The project considers the duality of perfection and imperfection. Why does that interest you?
Because they are at the very centre of everyone’s life and existence, generating tensions that are sometimes positive and sometimes negative. It’s a matter of acceptance. It’s a matter of knowing we can’t control everything, and searching for the beauty hidden in a painful or unpleasant situation. Perception is key. It’s the eternal matter of the glass beautifully filled, sometimes half full, and sometimes half empty.
Facing the fragmented photographs of Ecotone, one can see scared orphan pieces that should be thrown away and replaced by a fresh print of the complete photograph. For me, the value is in letting your mind wander and search for beauty in all these fragments, to a point where the original pristine photograph doesn’t matter anymore – what matters is the trace of an experience and how it resonates with you.
Collage recurs in much of your work. What continues to draw you back to this method?
If we go back to my teenage years, all my art projects were crafty and hands-on (painting, drawing, etc.) Later, carrying a full atelier or darkroom was not possible because I was travelling all the time, so I shifted to digital photography. And then it stayed with me, even though it was never quite enough to just push a button. And I would often feel frustrated that my photographs weren’t able to fully convey what was going on in my imagination.
In 2013, due to the impossibility of expressing my project through pure photography, I had to look for alternatives. I have to say, when I tried expressing it through collage it was a revelation for me, like finding a lost friend or my true language, one in which everything is possible, detached from the laws of reality.
Text by Jenny Willcock, Unseen Platform