By Luke Voogt
Ian Ballis’ latest artistic quest – collecting 50 vintage TVs for a visiting Iranian sculptor – was more difficult than he expected.
“I thought I’ll contact our 500 stall owners and we’ll get them in no time,” the Geelong picker told the Indy. “But we only got one!
“They’re not in vogue – you can’t get channels on them because of the (digital) frequency change.”
So Ballis scoured social media and second-hand websites for the TVs, finding them sitting lifeless in old homes and bungalows.
“They were more than happy to seek out a new home for their TV,” he said.
The TVs will feature in Shirin Abedinirad’s latest art installation at the Lorne Sculpture Biennale, which begins on Saturday.
The Geelong Vintage Warehouse owner scored the gig through a mutual connection to the Iranian.
“We actually picked 70 TVs – so she can be quite fussy in what she chooses with shape and colour,” Ballis said.
Abedinirad arrived in Australia last week, for her second visit to the country, and was looking forward to the two-week sculpture festival.
“I saw an open call online – I was always interested in Australian art events, the 32-year-old from Tehran said.
“Australia has a very big, wide sky that I’d never seen before and the people are very peaceful, friendly and helpful.”
Abedinirad began replacing the screens of the TVs with mirrors this week, to create a sculpture symbolic of the media.
“I believe media is not giving the real news to us or all parts of it – especially in parts of our country,” she said.
The TVs would reflect the surrounds and the people viewing them, which is the media should do, Abedinirad explained.
Both Iranian and international media were misleading people about events in Iran or using it to forward their own agendas there, she said.
“In Iran our media is not showing the reality to us – (they portray) that everything is calm.
“It’s not as calm as the Iran media is showing but it’s not bad as the outside media is showing either.”
The media’s coverage of a woman who removed her headscarf in protest against Iran’s compulsory hijab laws was an excellent example, Abedinirad said.
“In Iran, the media, they did not cover it.“In outside media they were covering it as a big thing but it was not affecting us in our daily lives – it was only happening in their street.”
Abedinirad’s sculpture will be one of four major projects at the Lorne Sculpture Biennale and will feature alongside the work of about 30 artists.
The biennale is the largest public outdoor sculpture event in Victoria and runs until 2 April.