Swirl World


Laleh Khorramian is doing something so seemingly simple but pleasurable that it’s surprising more artists don’t do it: She makes aqueous quasi-abstract drawings, then films them, later adding animated sequences and other low-tech effects to create magic lantern movies and moving landscapes. Here, emaciated pixies, possessed stick figures, and golems enact obscure, vaguely mythic rituals and acts of violence and contrition. The results are velvety and visionary, although unresolved. You might think this was a collaboration between Shahzia Sikander, Roland Flexner (currently on view at Caren Golden), the ghosts of anonymous Persian miniaturists, plus William Kentridge and Kara Walker—both of whom teach at Columbia, where the 31-year-old, Iranian-born Khorramian recently graduated.

Khorramian’s promising debut includes a very large drawing on a grid of 20 sheets of paper and the awkwardly titled Chopperlady, an absorbing eight-minute video that utilizes the drawing as background and stage. Khorramian has yet to master the art of melding sound and image (something her Columbia colleague Mika Rottenberg excels at); her narrative is often obscure or overloaded; her sense of timing is occasionally stilted; and her bag of technical tricks is still in formation. Yet Khorramian’s work is intriguingly personal and compelling, and exists in a psycho-visual realm bordered by history, theatricality, decoration, and dreams. The stories that take place here are simultaneously about love, war, politics, and the self, and are as cosmological as they are scatological and strange.