top of page

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

From Sea to Dawn

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

From Sea to Dawn

Video installation

Year: 2016-2017

Duration: 6 min 26

Ramin Haerizadeh (born 1975, Tehran), Rokni Haerizadeh (born 1978, Tehran) and Hesam Rahmanian (born 1980, Knoxville) have lived and worked together in Dubai since 2009. They work independently and together propagating a form of collaboration that doesn't suppress individualism. The seeds of their language were sown as early as 1999, back in Iran. Their practice offers up a novel redefinition of the collective, as theirs is constantly growing and contracting to incorporate friends, writers, and artists at large. It entails the use of both low and high art references, and they freely embrace 'what is considered marginal, wasted, wrong, messed up, useless, and taken for granted'. Their individual practices differ stylistically while political and social commentary become inherently subversive in a common reflection. The exhibitions they conceive are as much insights into their daily practice, which they designate as the ritual of living and working together.

Immersive and multi-media, their installations build upon their perception of life as theatre while also making visible their process. Generally, their proposals begin with the 'creatures' that the three artists become, physically and mentally, and whose very beings are the roles played. Multivalent references from a variety of sources are carefully contrived and filtered growing in parallel without trying to reconcile them. Placing emphasis on the importance of 'reporting on our time', they wish to bring attention to the urgencies of the present moment while opening up questions over a spectrum of subjects such as views on art and culture, gender fluidity, and power mechanisms.

In their ‘moving painting’ From Sea to Dawn (2016), the artists focus on some of the most urgent issues of today, which echo a long and recurring history of Iconoclasm and migration issues. The artists use the term ‘moving paintings’ when referring to works made by combining a series of single works on A4 paper composed from stills culled from the media and painted and drawn upon into video animations.

From Sea to Dawn charts the perilous journey of the thousands of people leaving their homelands in West Asia and North Africa for Europe by sea and on foot. The artists employ Brecht’s technique of representing contemporary conditions while creating a sense of alienation or estrangement from reality by transforming and rendering unrecognisable the majority of the people in the news footage by drawing animal heads or abstract forms over their faces. In this way, they aim to ‘exorcise the sentimentalism’, and create an emotional distance, and elicit ‘astonishment rather than empathy’ from the viewer, allowing for critical analysis of the scene depicted. By depersonalising the individual subjects and emphasising collective experience, the artists seek to encourage the viewer to recognise the reality of interdependency and the value of solidarity with others. They similarly alter the settings by overlaying drawn forms and patterns and adding repeating and often symbolic motifs as for example ‘good luck’ ladybugs.

The artists remove the original voice-overs, leaving only snippets and traces of captions from the original broadcast. This fragmented text, which by and large is more frustrating than illuminating, functions as an interruption in an otherwise entirely visual narrative, occasionally providing commentary, such as ‘Do something so that the refugees won’t suffer so much on the way’. The process of combining and layering the individual paintings on paper results in what the artists have described as a ‘pulse’. Formally speaking, this visual stutter creates both a sense of dynamism and anxiety that corresponds to the tension, arising from various threatening and destructive actions that unfold.

In spite of the chaos and loss in the work, evidence of regeneration and hope abounds.

From Sea to Dawn acknowledges that not everyone can survive the journey to Europe and the hardships met along the way, while also highlighting the power of determination and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. The video not only depicts the seemingly endless sea of people and their travails but also highlights small acts of kindness, such as volunteers handing out bottled water and unbroken connections, as for example a touching embrace of what appears to be a parent and child at the end of the video juxtaposed with the words ‘we have some very good news’.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

From Sea to Dawn

Video installation

Year: 2016-2017

Duration: 6 min 26


Ramin Haerizadeh (born 1975, Iran)

Rokni Haerizadeh (born 1978, Iran)

Hesam Rahmanian (born 1980, United States)

Work in Dubai



Stories of Global Displacement

June 22 - September 22, 2019

Phillips Collection


27.6.2019 - 22.9.2019

Louisiana Museum

The Rain Doesn’t Know Friends From Foes: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

JANUARY 26 – APRIL 28, 2019

Frye Museum

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian

Busan Biennale 2018

Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home

Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin Italy 12.07.2018 – 30.09.2018

OGR (Officine Grandi Riparazioni)

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian : The Maids

October 28, 2017–January 7, 2018

MACBA Barcelona

Speak, Lokal


Kunsthalle Zürich

The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence

March 7–July 29, 2017

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

bottom of page