To fully digest the properties of each medium and master the myriad associations a theme might signify, Mamali Shafahi often engages in projects that require years of practice and revisions. A central theme in these long-term engagements is to challenge the relationship between the artist and the other in a call for participation in the artwork. Shafahi’s works tend to incorporate the other as a protagonist in their creative processes and discursive premises, revisiting the dichotomy of the artist/audience with a wide range of participants – most recently the artist's own parents.
The works in Daddy Tissue is the latest sequel to the ‘Daddy Sperm’ project that Shafahi started in 2012. Fascinated by the transformation he calls "the miracle of life", he explores the force of life and creation as it circulates between humans and from generation to generation. In this series, he investigates the mutations of identities and agencies – mutations that simultaneously delineate and are delineated by social constructs. For him, the transformation of one drop of liquid into a creative subjectivity in a human body is a fair formulation of this miracle of life.
As a part of the project, in 2012 Shafahi asked his father, a then-72-year-old former wrestler, to start making drawings. The artist was keen to observe if he could find a creative gene shared between them. Since then, his father, Reza, has gone on to develop his own artistic practice and continues to create independently, based on his own inspiration.
Mamali has continued to involve his parents as actors and artists in a multitude of media and works, to take a closer look at the perverse implications of parent-child relationships in a mutual metamorphosis. They have now become a go-to artistic medium of the artist.
In his latest treatment of the theme, he is looking back at his own "classical" inheritance through the intergenerational buffer he has created, by making new works based on Reza’s drawings. Daddy Tissue is dedicated to Reza’s free-spirited and audacious imagery, in the form of three-dimensional representations of drawings flocked in brightly-colored monochrome. By committing to an external agency with whom he shares a presupposed and structured kinship, Shafahi brings about a decentralized eventuality. Lacking academic training and hence potentially more daring, Reza sits in a pole opposed to the established artist Mamali is, and these colorful relief works are thus showcases of decentralized agency.