Mani Mazinani and Sanaz Mazinani: Dastgāh at Evergreen Brick Works

Mani Mazinani and Sanaz Mazinani
Dastgāh

June 3 – October 31, 2024
North Pavilion, Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto

How do you listen? What do you hear? Nestled in the Don River ravines amidst urban trails and the Don Valley Parkway, Dastgāh is a sound sculpture that asks visitors to open their ears and listen differently. Created by the brother and sister duo Mani Mazinani and Sanaz Mazinani, the instrument takes its title from the Farsi term “dastgāh,” and can be literally translated as a “hand” (dast) and “gāh” (way) or “set of directions,” a modal system that serves as the foundation for composition and improvisation in Iranian music.

On the unceded territory of Toronto, a space named by Wendat peoples as “a meeting place” and home to the Mississaugas of the Credit, Anishinaabeg, Chippewa, Haudenosaunee, and Wendat peoples, Toronto has also become a city of diaspora and refuge. Dastgāh bridges time and distance between the many histories that exist on Turtle Island to date, whether from perspectives in Toronto, the land known as Canada today, across the continent or over the oceans. The work playfully reimagines the chang, an ancient Iranian harp as a giant, walk-in instrument, replacing traditional strings made of sheep gut and goat hair with piano strings. Riffing on the historical instrument, the sculpture is all angles and contains several changs, each with its unique voice. Played together in any number of combinations, the changs form a collective whole, an ensemble that serves as a metaphor for our social fabric.

Dastgāh introduces musical intervals found in traditional Maqam practice, the modal music system stretching between Central Asia and North Africa to the Don River Valley ravines, decentering the 12 tones used in classical and contemporary music. While these tones are pervasive, the sound sculpture creates an opportunity to hear and play with more nuanced tones exposing audiences to different frequencies and expanding what they hear. Stitching sounds together as a quilt, the sculpture generates a sound montage of the city, a sonic landscape that blankets the land. Like the river and creeks that flow nearby, sound is fluid, literally and figuratively traveling across borders, leaky and uncontainable.

In a moment where we can easily be ensconced in our own worlds: plugged into our mobile devices, tuning out wailing sirens or the rumblings of public transportation, Dastgāh encourages active listening. Through collective music making, it broadens the experience of participatory listening in concert with the sonic environment at Evergreen Brick Works and more widely throughout the ravines. The surrounding area becomes a sound stage where the audience is also a player, a listener, a maker. In any one moment, we might hear the many textures of sound in the ravines coming together: cars zooming by on the Don Valley Parkway and Bayview Avenue, birds chirping, families picnicking, vendors hawking their wares at the farmer’s market. If only for a moment, Dastgāh asks us to consider what we sound like, and invites listeners to make a soundtrack of the Don River Valley, to feel the vibrations of another land.

Supported by: the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts

About the Artists:

Mani Mazinani (b. 1984, Tehran) is a Toronto-based artist making work that connects scale and sensation, improvisation and ancient thought. His practice includes installation, video, film, sculpture, photography, multiples, sound, and music and directs attention to the physicality of his subject medium, creating situations to exercise our perceptual systems. He has presented projects internationally at venues including Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, Tate Modern, The Bentway, Tehran International Electronic Music Festival, and the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre. Mazinani’s sound/music projects have been published internationally and on his own experimental record label, Aerophone Recordings.

Sanaz Mazinani (b. 1978, Tehran) is an artist, educator, and curator based in Tsí Tkarón:to. Working across the disciplines of photography, sculpture, and large-scale multimedia installations, Mazinani creates informational objects that invite a rethinking of how we experience the world, suspending the viewer between observation and knowledge. Mazinani is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, and her work is held in public collections such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the City and County of San Francisco.

Images: © Sanaz Mazinani and Mani Mazinani

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