Preview ‘Tala Madani – The Jinn’

The exhibition ‘Tala Madani – The Jinn’ opens on Saturday 10 December. ‘ChitChat’ (2007) is the first animation Madani produced, and will be part of the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. Watch ‘ChitChat’ online as a preview to the exhibition and read an interview with Tala Madani about her work, ‘The Jinn’ and her current inspirations below.


How would you define the mythology of the Jinn in relation to your work?

I allowed this idea of spirits influence the work. I wasn’t making paintings about Jinn, instead I was trying to allow this mythology, and the idea of the spirits of the otherworldliness, to affect the process of the work and how I paint and what I paint.

Your work often deals with male characters that show obsessive behaviour, yet this is the first time you connect this to the Jinn. It seems like this is the first time you more or less explain (their?) obsessive behaviour. Can you respond to that?

In fact it is more about my obsession. I really liked the article of artist and writer Pierre Klossowski ‘On the collaborations of demons and the work of art’ (1985). He talks about this demonic presence, the intermediary between the artist and god. I like to enter that way of thinking. It is more an attraction I have to this kind of obsession, an attraction to the “deep end of the pool”, a more enveloping environment.

These paintings are the beginning and the ending of the idea, there is no overarching narrative that I withheld. The paintings express the experience of the inside coming out, and becoming exterior. I am thinking a lot about the thinness of the layer between inside and outside, and how this thin layer functions and how we can control it. I read this great thing about skin. Without skin all our stuff would be hanging out, but without skin it would be very hard to contact between living beings or non-living beings. Yet, there is so much entrapped in the skin that it is no longer just a medium of contact, it becomes a medium of division, a prison for what your super-ego doesn’t want to let out. I was thinking about these things when I was making these paintings.

Then what kind of world are you expressing in your drawings, paintings and animations? The characters are often presented in rather abstract and isolated settings. In what kind of world do they live?

Once I have an idea of what I want to work with, it becomes a dominant headline. The idea is in your head constantly and it almost becomes the background colour of the painting. The rest of the details become much more about the experience of painting itself. I usually do not think about it in these terms, but when I look back I would say that some of them are in an abstract space that they experience and some of them are in their own interiors and some kind of psychological space. It all depends on the painting.

How do you produce your animations?

I make paintings on a piece of board. Then I make snap-shots of each painting that presents a certain movement. Than I change it a little bit a make another snap-shot. Then I put all these images in a row in Final Cut Pro. This stop-motion technique is quite an old-fashioned way of producing animations. Every animation is produced on one board and therefore it really becomes ‘a moving painting’. Although they are quite haggard after I am done with them, I keep them.

What are your current inspirations?

Lately I’ve been looking a lot at comic books and comic magazines. One of my inspirations is the Comic The Spirit. I especially like the earlier cover designs. Furthermore I feel very inspired by a cartoon that was made in Iran in 1904 and that satirically engages with the political circumstances at that time. These examples present the same kind of mood that I would like to reflect in my paintings. It is interesting to see that people always have been fascinated with comics.

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