THE INACCESSIBLE DOORS OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI

Curator's Note

Along with roads, trees, cars and mirrors, doors are recurrent images in Abbas Kiarostami’s works. Often closed or half-opened, doors suggest the presence of impassable thresholds and inaccessible worlds of physical, social and symbolic nature. The dog in The Bread and Alley, the little girls in The Chorus, Mamad in The Experience, Ahmad in Where is the Friend’s Home, the reporter in The Wind Will Carry Us, etc., are all characters whose path comes to a halt in front of a closed access that they wish to cross, without success. If it’s true that doors have a universal symbolic significance, it must be said that in traditional Sufism and in the Persian mystic poetry they evoke more precisely the limit set by the unreachability of a mobile horizon represented by the object of an endless and fruitless search and, at the same time, it reminds the paradoxical necessity of the research itself. In Kiarostami’s works, that indeed descends from this tradition without refusing influences by others; doors rarely fulfil their original function, since they do not separate and simultaneously unite adjacent spaces, inside and outside (eg. the villages devastated by an earthquake of Life and nothing more…), reality and fiction (the set of Through the Olive Trees); moreover, they often hide a deception or an optic illusion (i.e. The Traveler or Doors without Keys). Doors are a kind of broken, imperfect media, because they do not mediate at all. However, in this way the audience is forced to ask themselves where the real thresholds actually are, since they are obviously invisible, transparent, concealed within the surrounding environment. Doors without Keys, the exhibition by Kiarostami at the Aga Khan Museum of Toronto in 2015, perfectly proves the point. It consisted of a sort of labyrinth of rooms and closed alleys at whose ends were placed real-size photo prints of closed doors and fences. The visitor couldn’t distinguish, at first glance, whether what he saw were real locked entrances or simple bi-dimensional depictions, but the layout of the exhibition was itself intended to unveil the trompe l’oeil so that the viewer could experience a change in awareness, a transformation in his/her perceptive conditions and convictions. In this case and in many others, closed doors force us to question our place in the world and, consequently, our identity, precisely as with Sabzian/Makhmalbaf in front of the gate of the Ahankhah family in the ending of Close up. Works referenced in the clips, in order of appearance: The Chorus (Hamsorayan‎‎, 1982) The Bread and Alley (Nān o Kūcheh, 1970) Where is the Friend’s Home (Khane-ye doust kodjast, 1987) The Experience (Tajrobe, 1973) Take me home (2016) A Window into Life (2014) Doors Without Keys (2015) The Traveler (Mosāfer 1974) Life and nothing more… (Zendegi va digar hich, 1992) Close up (Nema-ye Nazdik, 1990)

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