A maker of delicate and idiosyncratic objects that often reference food, the body, and their containers, Sahand Heshmati Afshar is also the holder of a fine sensibility about cultural appropriation. It is perhaps not entirely unexpected then, that when invited to host a dinner at 6018North as part of its Justice Hotel, a program of events organized on social justice themes, he would balk at simply presenting Iranian food for the taking. Because too much has historically been for the taking in terms of Iranian heritage, as evidenced in Afshar’s “OI Toilet Papers,” an installation that projects a slide image of Persian artifacts in the famed collection of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute above a globular arrangement of toilet paper rolls. It’s a shitty situation, in other words, and the twelve-plus guests at Afshar’s “Kolempeh” dinner were not going to get off easy. Instead of the cultural communion they were expecting, they got lettuce, raspberries, pepitas, engraved copper plumbing fittings and salt, plus black tea to enjoy. It could have been so much worse.
—Lori Waxman 2020-02-22 5:32 PM