Knowing me, knowing you: Saam Farahmand and Pegah Farahmand
A relationship under the microscope
Tuesday 13 December 2011
SAAM FARAHMAND, 32, is an award-winning music video director who has created promos for Janet Jackson, Mark Ronson, Cheryl Cole and Klaxons. Considered one of the most exciting visual artists around, his provocative videos often cause controversy. He lives in London.
Pegah and I are only a year and a half apart so we really grew up together. We used to watch a lot of television and films that we probably weren't supposed to watch when we were really young and we had older friends who exposed us to music and film which were perhaps a bit unsuitable.
I studied fine art and began as a painter and sculptor before I started experimenting with video, which felt very natural and intuitive as I'd messed around with it when I was younger. Because we work in the same sphere we have ended up sharing a lot of friends. I can get the barest of responses from Pegah about my work but there's a lot of unspoken communication and I can tell without her saying anything whether she thinks what I'm doing is a good idea or not. Her opinion is really important to me even though we do different things – she has a bigger interest in humanitarian subjects and really looks at the outside world whereas my work is a lot more solitary and internal.
We both have to kind of edit what we show our parents because our work can be provocative. Sometimes the content that my sister works with is quite risky and similarly some of the stuff that I do can be misinterpreted as gratuitous.
When you have a sibling who is close in age to you it becomes harder to make the other one laugh so your humour and things that you use to provoke the other become increasingly exaggerated or strange. The challenge to get the jaded sibling's attention is what forces you to conjure up stranger things. I guess it tunes you in a certain way.
PEGAH FARAHMAND, 30, produces documentaries and online content for Vice, the multimedia conglomerate. She is 18 months younger than her brother Saam. They also have a 21-year-old sister.
Even as a kid my brother was the really creative one. He's always had quite a dark sensibility; we used to watch horror movies and Twin Peaks when we were little. Maybe it was inevitable that he's gone on to make work that can be surreal. There was a period in his life when he thought about doing a more academic course and going to Oxford or something. I think that's what our parents expected, being traditional Iranian parents; they wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer.
One day, out of the blue, he a nnounced that he was going to go to Goldsmiths to do fine art instead. It took my family years to get over the shock. I wanted to get into fashion, which I studied for a year, before realising it wasn't for me and ended up doing fine art as well. Not that I was copying my brother, even though we joke about it a lot. Even as a kid he used to always say I copied him. I think I'm one of the few people who is really brutally honest with him.
Before I started working for Vice, Saam asked me to do my first producing job. It was for the band Simian Mobile Disco and it was one of the first music videos he had made. He told me to get 20 girls together who were willing to make out with each other for a really long time. I managed to do it as well! I have an eclectic mix of friends and if he needs a certain type of character he'll usually call me.
His work can be provocative but it is also beautiful which I think sometimes goes unnoticed. He's like that in the real world too; he always wants things to be cinematic.
Saam Farahmand has produced a series of video portraits as part of ABSOLUT BLANK Live. To view them visit facebook.com/absolutuk
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