Profile: Morehshin Allahyari Artist Last Update:September 29, 2016

Morehshin Allahyari is a new media artist, activist, educator, and occasional curator. She was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States in 2007. Her work extensively deals with the political, social, and cultural contradictions we face every day. She thinks about technology as a philosophical toolset to reflect on objects; a poetic mean to document the personal and collective lives we live and our struggles as humans in the 21st century.

Allahyari has been part of numerous exhibitions, festivals, and workshops around the world including the Venice Biennale, Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, Queens Museum, Pori Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Museo Ex-Teresa Arte Actual, Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Miami Art fair, and Material Art fair. She has been an artist in residence at the Banff Centre (2013),Carnegie Mellon University’s STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (2015), Autodesk Pier9 Workshop in San Francisco (2015), and the Vilém Flusser Residency Program for Artistic Research in association with Transmediale, Berlin in collaboration with writer/artist Daniel Rourke (2016).

Her work has been featured in NYTimes, Huffington Post, Wired, NPR, Parkett Art Magazine, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Global Voices Online, and Al Jazeera among others.

Selected Work

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Words

I am struck by the idea of representation in digital art. I think about the reconstruction of memory in virtual worlds, the rebuilding of non-existent objects from the virtual world into real life… how we understand our world through representation, the dystopian, the utopian, and everything in-between. Since I have moved to the U.S. (2007), I have become more and more fascinated by the in-depth thoughts on exile and diaspora within Edward Said’s text “Reflections on Exile,” Mahmoud Darwish’s poems, and Lorna Dee Cervantes’ Palastine poem, among others. But in my own work, I wanted to simultaneously be aware of the dangers of the romanticization of exile and self-exile – as well as the whole nostalgic remembrance of the “homeland” that is inaccessible; I wanted to look for different ways that I can use digital technology to talk about my own understanding of self-exile. So I worked on a 3D animation video, a plexiglas installation, a 16mm film, a series of Facebook post-cards installation, and a creative research/writing project in the course of one year. It’s interesting to step-back and think about each of these works now (after two years); to think about geographical determinism and the collective history of the young self-exiled Iranians; but also to realize that, through time, my relationship has changed with “home” and that it will continue to change. Doing this interview and thinking about my body of work “The Romantic Self-Exiles”, I remembered that I haven’t thought about my house in Tehran, Yousefabad and Valiasr streets, and other common places that I used to go, for a very long time. I used to do this thing almost every night, that I would close my eyes and try to imagine and remember every details of my room in Tehran… or the exact directions/streets that I would have to take to get to whatever place. I couldn’t help but think that’s the only way to survive the diasporic life… could this be one dimension of the mutation of identity? Is this where I forever will feel distanced, unrelated, and disconnected from home? Or have I just entered a new stage of life in diaspora? Gray areas might be the only places worth existing…delving into identity as a transparent rather than defined; homeland as belonging to nowhere and everywhere; virtual space as both real and imagined; aesthetics as perfection vs imperfection.

Morehshin Allahyari

Excerpted from Allahyari’s interview with Daniel Rourke on the Rhizome blog, January 31, 2014, http://rhizome.org/editorial/2014/jan/31/artist-profile-morehshin-allahyari/

Links / Updates

Press

The Distributed Monument, Paul Soulellis, Rhizome.org, February 2016.
Swiping a Priceless Antiquity … With a Scanner and a 3-D Printer, Charly Wilder, by Charly Wilder, NYTimes, March 2016.
The Artist Who Reclaims What ISIS Has Destroyed, Canadian Art, Leah Sandals, February 2016.
NETWORKS // An Interview with Morehshin Allahyari, Lee Escobedo, Berlin Art Link, February 2016.
In Acts of Resistance, Artists and Scholars Digitally Reconstruct the Past, Hyperallergic, Claire Voon, January 2016.
Morehshin Allahyari Fights The Systematic Looting And Destroying Of Artifacts By ISIS With 3D Printing, Beautiful Decay Magazine, July 2015
Artist Battles ISIS with a 3D Printer, AJ+ short, Al Jazeera, July 2015
3D printing artifacts destroyed by ISIS, NPR and CBC, May 2015
ISIS vs. 3D Printing, Motherboard, VICE, Ben Valentine, May 2015
Speculate, Replicate, Eradicate: The 3D Additivist Manifesto, Art F City, Corinna Kirsch, March 2015
How Autodesk’s Experimental Lab Gave Us an Odd Little Star Wars Movie, Gizmodo, Annalee Newitz, March 2015
Breaking new ground in the Persian Gulf, Dazed Digital, March 2015

This is just a small selection; for a more complete list dating to 2009, see http://www.morehshin.com/selected-press/