et super Tay

This exhibition summarises ten years of Iranian poet-researcher Vahid Davar’s life in the United Kingdom. The posters run in a non-chronological order, starting with ‘The Owner of the Fish’, an illustration for ‘Nassim’s Testament’, Davar’s self-translated narrative elegy for Nassim, a friend, an imaginary fellow asylum seeker and an alter ego. It is followed by mirror self-portraits drawn over ten years, revealing the author’s self-images as a shapeshifter. Davar’s perception of his protean self is replicated in two doodled pages from the manuscript of ‘Nassim’s Testament’ featuring a swan-scorpion, a metaphor for Nassim, and a fish - a creature that, as it swims, shifts shape. The drawings are interspersed with extracts from ‘Nassim’s Testament,’ which lead to excerpts from Davar's PhD thesis on Jamshid-Zahhāk, the first mythic king of the world in Persian mythology. Being both the good and the evil king in one person, Jamshid-Zahhāk, in Davar’s view, is the foundational myth in the conceptions of kingship in the Iranian imagination. The last poster is the poet’s vision of his graduation from St Andrews University. Wrapped in a thermal blanket, the Dundee refugee is standing on the Tay, and two hands from high above are confirming his graduation with a pun on the Latin formula ‘et super te’ (and upon you).