Mehran, Laleh

Laleh Mehran
US videomaker

participant in
VideoChannel – US Video Art – 2010 curated by Alysse Stepanian (USA/Iran)

Video title:
“The Xerces Society, Installment VII: From London to Marrakech”;
2007; 4:57

The Xerces Society is a series of artworks investigating the complexities of fanaticism and ideology under the auspices of art and science. The title refers to a North American butterfly conservation society of a similar name, as well as to Xerces, the famed king of ancient Persia. Sir Samuel
Cropia, the primary character, is a world-renowned lepidopterist known for his extreme dedication to the preservation and proliferation of butterflies. The greatness sought by such men of power becomes their identity and legacy left behind. They are remembered by their actions; history looks kindly on the victories and admonishes the failures.
In Installment VII Sir Cropia enters into his seventh decade oscillating between manic aspirations for a diminishing future and melancholic reflections on a vexed and variable past. Consequently, the moving images that constitute the video, visible through apertures that are at once windows and eyes, form a compelling analogue for Sir Cropia’s own psychological state. Placing the spectator in Sir Cropia’s restless shoes, the spectator does see, but only at the mercy of Sir Cropia’s mind’s eye. Thus, just as a tension exists within Sir Cropia’s self-assessment, so for the spectator a comparable tension develops between his/her point of view and that of our nefarious protagonist. As such, the romance of travel by train, as suggested by the parade of level images on the windows’ far side, quickly gives way to the realization that one has been kidnapped —
perhaps by Sir Cropia’s own hand.