Hessam Samavatian studied photography at the University of Applied Arts under Gabriele Rothemann and graduated in 2017 with the extensive diploma “Im Schatten kein Schwarz” [No Black in the Shadows]. In his mostly installative works, photography often becomes an independent theme and motif and correspondingly assumes unusual forms. The focus is on the chemical-optical properties of photography, such as the light sensitivity of analogue materials, or the technical standards, such as the image formats produced by the large manufacturers, but also the metaphorical readability of photography as shadow or a vessel. Hessam Samavatian takes up the symbolism of terms such as “candela” or focuses on moments that differ from the conventional “decisive moment”, such as when light passes through the camera lens and throws an image of the outside world inside the camera. But he also plays with the rules of the art market, with prominent role models, cultural traditions, literature etc., and understands how to place the respective repertoire in new and contemporary contexts.
Artistic research, technical expertise and repeated experiments produce calculated, media-specific and simultaneously poetic and varied works that can always address the viewer directly. Born in Iran and living in Vienna since 1998, Hessam Samavatian repeatedly finds himself confronted with the cultural differences between the European and Persian/Iranian conceptual worlds. He compares their scientific contributions to optics, for example, or—mostly unconsciously—links elements of these diverse traditions in his works.