"The main inspiration of my projects comes from political and social issues. Most of my projects are direct answers to situations I observe and connections I make with the historical past of my country. I have often had conflicted feelings about this approach and have always looked at artworks that are disconnected from political issues, that are beautiful and important for art history, with envy. But, I was born in Iran, grew up after the Revolution and during the Iran-Iraq War period. I have found difficult to create artworks disconnected from my surroundings."
Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar
Based on a concept began in 2005, The Greater Middle East visually expresses these sentiments. Eight flags of eight nations of the Middle East each feature ten times in this installation. Palestine, Lebanon, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Syria, constitute Moakhar's "Greater Middle East" and reflect the artists feelings about the current situation in his region. Each flag is neatly displayed in an individual plexiglass box, recalling the flags which cover the coffins of soldiers who died at war and who are returned to their homeland. Yet Moakhar takes this reference further, as the flags become memorabilia entities themselves, serenely exhibited in these museum-like cabinets stacked on top of each other and seemingly neatly packaged and ready to be shipped on. On each unit are recognizable pictograms referring to the American security apparatus, warnings of searches at customs, radio activity and tracking devices. There is something cartoonish about all of this- Moakhar is engaging with serious issues but at the same time highlighting the absurdity of the situation.