The ‘business’ of art

By GREG COOK  |  December 30, 2009

Also on view at the RISD Museum through March 28 are four brief poetic animations by Avish Khebrehzadeh, an Iranian artist who lives in Washington, DC and Italy. They are sweet but often slight, like 2005's A Swim in which a simple, bald schematic figure wades into yellow water and swims. That's it.

Monkey, Goat, and Trainer (2008), based on a tale by contemporary Iranian writer Sadeq Choubak, shows a bald man prodding a leashed monkey with a stick, so that it walks on two legs and does flips. The man then prods the goat, which circles him. The monkey rides the goat, then gets off. The cycle repeats for three days, but on the fourth day the man does not awake. The monkey prods him with his stick, but he doesn't awake. So the monkey ties himself to the goat — linked neck to neck — and they ride off into a desert. The story's repetition feels a bit monotonous, but it becomes a fable about how we're bound to our routines. And perhaps speaks of the state of things in Iran.

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