GOLNAR ADILI
Personal History Wood Blocks
2019
Transfer on paper, beeswax
Dimensions Variable-4 x 6 x 1.5 inches
The Family History Woodblock book is inspired by my toddler’s play blocks. As an architect and someone in love with texture, I found my daughter’s beautifully crafted wood blocks a playful learning tool on which I could print my own imagery. For the past decade I have been deconstructing and reconstructing materials relating to my family history through mining my late father’s archive of letters, photos and printed matter. In doing so, I investigate multiple displacements and separations experienced due to my family’s activism in relation to the 1979 Iranian revolution and the pursuing Iran–Iraq war.

The images printed on the six sides of the cubes reference the years 1979 to1981, from the time my family migrated back to Iran from the US until the time my father escaped Iran due to fear of persecution. This collection of images show my mother and I at a neighbor’s birthday party, my mother’s two passport photos, one with her smiling and the other with a grave gaze, and a letter from that period in which my mother is describing the hardships of raising me under bombardments and isolation.

These blocks are housed inside a “postcard box” which opens flat. The book cloth covering the box carries the print of the airplane ticket which I found in my late father’s archive referencing his trip from Madrid to the US as the last leg of a long journey escaping Iran. When the box is closed the airplane hugs the blocks, keeping the events inside until the next time they unravel to tell a visual story of how a family was affected by larger political shifts.
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