"I think we live at a point of extreme darkness and extreme brightness. Extreme darkness, because we really do not know from which direction the light would come. Extreme brightness, because we ought to have the courage to begin anew. We have to abandon every dogmatic principle and question one by one the validity of all the principles that have been the source of oppression. From the point of view of political thought, we are, so to speak, at point zero. We have to construct another political thought, another political imagination, teach anew the vision of a future." Michel Foucault was standing in my Tehran.

 

I’m worried, I’m anxious, I’m exhausted, Its 2018

One reads the words, moved, inspired, motivated. Ready.

 

I finally have proof, it wasn’t a myth,

Foucault was here on the eve of the revolution. It’s 1978.

 

Foucault’s words are an ode to the uprising of my parents—before I knew them—when they were young,  

When it all began…

The words are in praise of the emerging state, the new oppressive regime of Iran, the one I know.

One fails. One must mourn the failure of his hope.

He’s been gone for long.

One is left to make sense of what brought us here, the Middle East of today.

Rid of hope, one is left with books, theories, and debate.

 

I’ve done my homework, I’ve read the books, recited the theories, and settled the debate.

I’ve been trained in Scholarly Rage!

 

It’s 1978 and somewhere on Columbia’s campus, Edward Said’s finishing his Orientalism,

the chronicle of problems that is to be our compass.

One day he’d say, the book “is written out of an extremely concrete history of personal loss and national disintegration.”

 

The region he deemed lost, the one he left behind

would give birth to me, hold my today, and home my future.

It was not dead. Life went on.

I swim in his despair, Me and my home need more.

 

I spin. One either thinks or act.

 

Foucault in Iran

dward Said dies in New York City

nd I’m standing right here.

 

  • “The fact that I
  • am writing to you
  • in English
  • already falsifies what I
  • wanted to tell you
  • My subject:
  • how to explain to you that I
  • don’t belong in English
  • though I belong nowhere else.”
  • Gustavo Perez Firmat , Bilingual Blues

Think of a classroom in a global educational institute, and at the back two ‘foreigners’ sharing a look. A respected scholar rushes through colonialism, a celebrated lecturer utilizes other cultures, a well-intended student stumbles, in these moments the shortcomings of academia manifest themselves. One sighs in exhaustion, but then someone else hears it and it is recognized.

Art of ‘Whose’ People is a gathering of young artists from around the world who today reside in New York—each invited by one of this city’s institutes of art and education. Yet these artists who have been formed and function in the post-89 Neo-liberal world, remain concerned and committed to contemplating the contemporary politics of their ‘other’ geographies. As such they call upon their histories and three phases of interruption: the era of Colonialism and Imperialism; Decolonization under Nationalist/Socialist Revolts and the resultant totalitarian regimes; and ultimately the current slow process of recolonization under the politics of Global economy. Instantly politics meets its edge: nationality becomes a mere narrative and the utopia of humanist Globalism is corrupted by market. Thus the exhibition finds its core question where the subject audience, ‘the people,’ turns into a fabricated construct as political as it is social.

Art of ‘Whose’ People is a meeting point. On its own, each piece in the space is a focused exploration of the artists’ concerns regarding their own context. Summoned together, they communicate beyond their borders and while main- taining all their specificities, they share their deepest anxieties. In the occasion of this show, the space will be utilized as a stage for workshops, lectures, performances, celebrations, and remembrance to honor, activate, and further these conversations. The organic ever-changing program is to be announced.

Setare S. Arashloo, Cati Bestard, Delphine Fawundu, Alvaro Keding, Adam Liam Rose, Rocío Olivares, Shahzia Sikander, and Zou Zhao (Xi Xi)

Think Tanks, Without an Agenda, Without the Self-Confidence, Without Hope

At-large, along 14th Street

Oct 12 – Oct 15

Day 1, Translation:

Participants are invited to translate the poetry of their mother language to English. The artist will meet them by translating the same poem from Farsi to English.

Day 2, Maps:

Passersby are invited to join in physically making a globe with pieces of maps of the Middle East

Day 3, Monopoly:

Participants play Monopoly as “USA,” “Soviet Union,” “British Empire,” and “France.” Artist will be the bank and observe.

Day 4, Cooperative Writing/Mark Making:

A maze will be placed on the floor. Each line begins with a prompt of mirrored word-pairs. Pedestrians will be asked to help the artist fill the maze, repeating a set, hoping to ultimately meet at the center.

Schedule

Day 1: Translation. Thursday, October 12 from 12-4pm : 14th Street between Avenues A and B. 

Day 2, Maps. Friday, October 13 from 5-7pm: 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Day 3, Monopoly. Saturday, October 14 from 12-4pm: 14th Street and Ninth Avenue (outside the Apple Store). 

Day 4, Cooperative Writing/Mark Making. Sunday, October 15 from 12-4pm: 14th Street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues. 

 

 
 

The (un)Doing of a Book

Is an endurance performance project that battles an art book, a coffee sized photobook where history and propaganda merge at the point of becoming one. The source “30 Years” is a governmental book that narrates what has occurred in Iran since the revolution. Consisting of 1390 pages, the book collects the works of photojournalists, and pairs them with distinctly political captions (notably in English and Farsi). The result is a authoritative history of a country’s social, political, and cultural life. In this performance, I physically challenge this book and hence the constructed portrait of my history. The project consists of three main parts. First, all the photographs have been taken out of the book and they have been weaved together to create a carpet of sorts with distinct Islamic geometric designs. With this each page has become an empty white frame with the short caption. The artist then intervenes with the book for another round, where she takes each piece in an endurance performance and places the hundreds of pages, one next to form a giant wall piece, a memorial of the history lost in the missing images. The performance is accompanied with a three hour collection of youtube music videos made for the iconic songs of the traumatic moments of this history (the revolution, the Iran/Iraq war, reformism, and Green revolution). This performance is met with its mirror. Where in the same format, the artist takes the empties out pages and places them back in order and recreate the book. The same collection of video will accompany the reverse endurance performance.

 
 

So was the game. The war ended, the world wounded so would the colonialist parades, one would assume. Though cold war was just around the corner, and more or less the game remained the same. The countries with power played, the rest were bought and sold. So was Iran. What is presented here is a game, meant to be played. The player can choose the country they want to be and roll the dice. Only the scene is set; it is 53 and USA is debating whether to buy Iran or not, whether to set up the Coup in the countries first democratic move or not. History turned as it did, still today could be different.

Tehran is a city with one thousand personas, it is commonly feared and discussed and yet it is barely ever understood. In this project, I have juxtaposed the translated map of Tehran with audio recordings of a day of my life in this city. These pieces of map (presented as sold) show the heavily political and religious Tehran, where all streets are names after political and ideological concepts—the most common being the name of Martyr's of Iran/Iraq war. The audios present what is impossible to translate about Tehran, the complexities of real life. To the viewer familiar with Tehran, these locations present different neighborhood and their socio-economic status and the conversation and background music of each ride changes accordingly. The two sides come together and the viewer is requested to participate and put the pieces of this puzzle together—as it is presented as it's sold, torn between these neighborhoods—and retrace the journey that has been reduced to whispers.

عکس: (Farsi) Aks, Photograph, Mirrored, Contradiction.

 

This on-going project is an aim to explore my own visual history—the famous abstract geometry used in Islamic Architecture—in one of the most symbolically modern mediums: photography—a medium introduced to the other world through colonialism and to this date is understood as inherently Western, individualistic and representational, Here I return to the negative, the precious untouchable essence of photography, to explore forms inspired by the famous designs by folding. The result of this destructive process, is an sculptural negative that is then exposed to light and finally reborn through the printing process in the darkroom and repeated.