MASS MoCA’s the Studios, North Adams, MA | May-June 2022
Each of the two site-specific multimedia concepts I created during my residency is a response to the tangible and metaphorical characteristics of North Adams and the greater North East. As an artist with roots in Persian culture, I am particularly drawn by a series of iconic and monumental works at MASS MoCA and nearby institutions and sites that address aspects of Middle Eastern and Persian cultures. These two bodies of work, tackle issues related to the notions of perception, seriality, grid, and the unique landscapes of the post-industrial North East. Furthermore, my works address broader identity-politics issues that bring my own voice into the equation as an Iranian-American.
Distorted Visions | May 2022
Snake Charmer by Jean-Leon Gerome, The Clark Art Museum & Sol LeWitt Wall Painting at MASS MoCA
LeWitt’s wall paintings are made so that the viewer is psychologically encouraged to look into certain formal features with perceived depth, but physically discouraged by difficulties of the height and width of his painting. Additionally, depending on where we stand in relation to his work, the geometric shapes may seem distorted and out of proportion. Referencing the realistic ruined tiles of The Snake Charmer, this body of work addresses the fascination with the ruins of the Middle East in these paintings that placed the region in a weak position in comparison to the industrialized West of the latter half of the 19th c. The fragmented pieces of snake charmer are placed against LeWitt’s geometric forms. Later I plan to illuminate these pixel sections from behind and the cube from the inside, to attract the gaze of the viewer.
Persian Perspectives, American Wilderness | May 2022
Olana House, “Persian Home” of the Hudson River painter Fredrick Church & the Oxbow Painting
In Olana House, where I visited, by framing the colonized landscape through Persian arches and patterns; by blocking “unwanted” views through a seemingly stained-glass Persian window, Church alludes to his desire to take ownership of two inferior civilizations: Olana is the story of a Persian interiority vs. the untamed American exteriority. One is occupied inside and the other is subject to the artist’s colonizer gaze. In the Persian Perspectives, American Wilderness body of work, I aim to tackle these Persian interiorities that constantly frame, unframe, reframe and at times block and obscure the views of the American wilderness. I’ll do so through a large-scale animated digital projection or video which I will make later as well as a diagrammatic structure installed in a room that reads from left to right, a story similar to that of the Oxbow.