Mind Flaying Flavored Flails is a duo exhibition created by Nathan Harper and Babak Ahteshamipour for Babak’s album of the same title released on the cassette label Jollies (Brooklyn, NYC) on the 18th of November of 2022. The exhibition features five collaborative installations set on a futuristic garden ship on an alien landscape in space exploring themes regarding climate change, technocracy, the internet and pop culture. The installations are built around each of the individual tracks of the album which play respectively at each vicarious location. The exhibition is designed in such a way to create a non-linear experience, lacking a beginning, middle and end. It follows the idea of the non-linear compositional structures of the tracks of the album. Both Nathan and Babak used old works of theirs which they recreated some of them in 3D, gesturing towards recycling, reusing and recontextualizing which are of significance in artificial intelligence and ecology.
Babak’s presence in the installations is highlighted with paintings of nonhuman beings — and their 3D versions — such as a bear in a racing kart from the video game "Crash Bandicoot Nitro Fueled" surrounded by Pepsi cans, a shark inside a broken washing machine and a black unicorn, and spell icons from the MMORPG "World of Warcraft" and their names showcased via 3D logos of the famous video game "DOOM" and the famous death metal band "Death" — in response to Nathan’s use of the band’s logo in his works. Babak explores and underlines the fetishistic overproduction and overconsumption of material commodities, imagery, online data and commodified art — fantasy franchises, video games and feel-good music — which reflect the capitalist realist lifestyle and overwhelms in decisive manners the relationship between human and nonhuman, present and future. Moreover Babak’s piece entitled "I’d Rather be Banished to the Void than to Accept Disturbing Facts" occupies the center of the space and features a black hole on which Skeletor — the main antagonist of the Masters of the Universe franchise — is banishing a ghoul from the Warcraft franchise, referencing to the famous Skeletor memes that mention disturbing facts, a clear indication to climate change denial, as it is an occurring theme in his works.
In conversation with Babak’s works are Nathan's dirt sheet prints and paintings — printed with dirt pigment which he made by gathering actual dirt — which are presented as preserved organic artifacts in a post-doomsday context showcasing the absurdity of the age of the internet based on their depicted context. They feature various imagery which Nathan found online and printed including extreme metal band logos, cartoon characters, skeletons, slogans, animals and DeviantArt style art. Additionally Nathan’s Tesla Trucks entitled "Southern Girls do it Better" which feature a texture with an imprint of Gadget Hackwrench — from the popular 1980s cartoon "Chip n’Dale Rescue Rangers" — and a logo from an extreme metal band, have been sucked in the alien terrain beneath and around the black hole in the center of the space, ironically reminding us of Elon Musk’s (Tesla’s founder) obsession over colonizing Mars, an average technocrat's dream. Lastly Nathan’s use of the logo of the famous death metal "Death" appears once again, this time as a fossilized piece of organic artifact, a piece that future generations would find and attempt to decipher, just like the Rosetta Stone or the Cyrus Cylinder, deciphering a yet past era of time that still has not passed.
You can listen / buy the album here: https://babakahteshamipour.bandcamp.com/album/mind-flaying-flavored-flails