Located within the Navajo Lands in the deserts of Arizona, Antelope Canyon is an otherworldly monument of the “American West”. Many locals will mention that the Navajo name for Antelope Canyon is "Tsé bighánílíní", which means "the place where water runs through the rocks.” Antelope Canyon is an ethereal sandstone canyon formed by years of erosion that created sculptural waves and passages within the canyon. The walls were created by flood waters which naturally carved layers within the sandstone. The desert sun which peaks through the openings of the canyon overhead radiates the layers of red and orange hues within which resemble the otherworldly colors that could be imagined on Mars.
“We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone. But how far away that future may be, there is no knowing.”
― George Orwell, 1984
A future of failed utopic landscapes features in artist Pouria Khojastehpay’s newest photography series, named KADINGIRRA after the Sumerian name for Babylon.
As robed men roam the architectural remains of a city, they watch towering tributes to man’s power – some engulfed in flames and others in a state of incompletion.
With their backs often to the viewer we see neither mirth nor desolation on their faces. We see not if they walk towards or away from this neo-Babylon. Unknowing of whether the landscape is abandoned or still progressing, we cannot know where in the cycle of destruction and creation the city exists.
Seeing only a moment of an alternative history, unknowing of before’s and after’s and seeing only the now, the viewer is compelled to ask what the relationship between the robed men and the city may be.
Perhaps they watch their home destroyed by their own folly.
Perhaps they have discovered a strange city razed through the force of an outsider.
Perhaps they recall a thriving metropolis now quietly abandoned by disloyal inhabitants.
Perhaps they imagine the creation of a new capital, envisioning the swift rising of new symbols of greatness.
In the series both the city and the robed men are held suspended. Held apart from time and space, held between creation and destruction, they stand as the enigmatic guards of an unknowable future.
Text by Roya Alma Azadi