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Traces of of Being: Iran in in thethe Passage of of Memories Traces Being: Iran Passage TracesTraces of Being: Iran in the of Memories of Being: Iran in thePassage PassageMemories of Memories Traces of Being: Iran in the Passage of Memories


Traces of Being: Iran in the Passage of Memories This catalogue is published by Morono Kiang Gallery on the occasion of the exhibition Traces of Being: Iran in the Passage of Memories, organized by the Morono Kiang Gallery and curated by Shervin Shahbazi, on view from September 10 to November 21, 2009. Published 2009 by Morono Kiang Gallery ISBN-13: 978-0-9815389-8-3 ISBN-10: 0-9815389-8-3 © 2009 Morono Kiang Gallery © Introduction Essay, Sonia Mak All images are copyright the artists and reproduced with permission. All rights reserved, no portion of this book may be reproduced - mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying, without written permission from the publisher. Editor: Sonia Mak Photography: Rob Prideaux (Pantea Karimi’s works); Jason71 (all other photos) Design: Eliot Kiang, Jason71 Farsi Calligraphy: Miros Valipour Cover Image: Hushidar Mortezaie, Cult of the Divine (Detail), Silkscreen and paint on lace, 2009 Back Cover Image: Hushidar Mortezaie, Independence (Detail), Silkscreen and paint on lace, 2009 Morono Kiang Gallery Bradbury Building, 218 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 www.moronokiang.com Printed and Bound in China


INTRODUCTION Iran is on everybody’s mind. The momentum had been building in Iran since the spring, and by early June the electricity hovering in the air was palpable there as well as in Los Angeles, home to the largest Iranian community outside of Iran. The world watched as millions of Iranians cast their votes in the presidential election, only to discover that their numbers would not count. It was in the wake of what would become this continuing controversy that Traces of Being: Iran in the Passage of Memories was conceived. The Morono Kiang Gallery’s simple desire to take part in global efforts to buttress the Iranian people’s call for a democratic election soon materialized into a creative partnership with longtime Los Angeles based curator Shervin Shahbazi. This collaboration offered us the irresistible opportunity to realize an especially generative project at an important historical moment. In light of the unfolding situation in June, Shahbazi had the goal of contributing a nuanced and self-reflexive perspective to the international discourse that followed the election. He, therefore, chose to create an exhibition that would approach history and collective identity through the exploration of memories, personal narrative, and the idiosyncratic process of meaning making.

Shahbazi was not interested in doing a political exhibit. Citing how the memoirs of individuals have taught him more about history than any textbook, Shahbazi explains, “I asked the artists to pick a memory they would like to keep, or ‘save’, and a memory that they would want to forget, or ‘delete’. We all know it’s humanly impossible to intentionally delete any part of our memory. By thinking about the memory we want to forget, we are actually remembering it. This premise presents a challenge only the individual can resolve.” Artists, Pantea Karimi, Amitis Motevalli, Hushidar Mortezaie, and Fereshteh Toosi, were invited by Shahbazi to participate in the exhibition to create new work for Traces of Being. Indeed, almost every piece was made expressly for this exhibition, based on the premise of reflecting on personal memory. It seems only natural, then, that the title for the exhibition should be poetic to underscore the intimacy of the act of reminiscing.


Reflecting on his process of deciding the show’s title, Shahbazi commented, “In the back of my mind there’s always poetry. We, as Iranians, have always been raised with literature, because that’s a major part of our culture. I didn’t want it to be something dry and academic. When you think in terms of poetry, you’re really trying to connect to other peoples’ emotions.” Each of the artists works with ideas, values, and aesthetics that are culturally informed and, to varying degrees, personally anchored. Shahbazi identified their perspectives, processes, and philosophies—though they diverge widely from one another—as kindred to the purpose of the show. Traces of Being brings together these four artists who work in different formats and media to present a rich and provocative set of tensions, myths, realities, and synchronicity as they are mediated by memory.

HUSHIDAR MORTEZAIE The mainstays of Hushidar Mortezaie’s art and fashion design are drawing, painting, silkscreen printing, and collage. Chic Boutique showcases Mortezaie’s sumptuous aesthetic of accumulating and piecing together images, patterns, and textures, alongside his conviction that every

memory is a gift whether it is good or bad, or as the artist claims, “Each layer builds on my identity.” Six female figures welcome visitors in a stunning line-up opposite the gallery’s front door. Two mannequins are dressed in a decadent hybridized aesthetic of contemporary and traditional Iranian style and international urban chic: hand-made jackets, pants, head coverings, and luxurious accoutrement that are only for the brazenly stylish. Like the cardboard cut-outs that you find in the grocery store, four two-dimensional life-size models are covered in Mortezaie’s memories and imaginings. They personify different moments in the artist’s life, but they also possess their own character, enveloped in heavily collaged ensembles, like celebrities who, in the artist’s own words, “shop at a very abstract store.” A red floral hejab is wrapped around the face of a pale Michael Jackson transformed by plastic surgery. The sweet countenance of Audrey Hepburn with a uni-brow peers out from behind a diaphanous veil of turquoise pattern, and she wears a green, translucent, floral-covered mosque as a jaunty hat. Two of the four celebrity style icon cutouts are Googoosh, Iran’s most popular and beloved pop singer—so formidable in the artist’s memories that he makes her presence constant throughout his installation. A disco version of the young Googoosh in neon yellow, is enveloped by psychedelic-colored atoms, silver duct-tape butterflies, and photocopied images of women wearing gas


masks. The artist intermingles the glamour and glow of nightclubs from his younger days with the West’s paranoia of Iran’s nuclear possession to create a daring, fallout-ready fashionscape. In her second incarnation, Googoosh rounds out the quartet as a dark, young female figure that wears a short black Metallica dress with a mourning cloth lapel, epaulettes and cuffs. Emerging from beneath her skirt are long legs clad in green floral-printed telescoping armor. By invoking the most popular heavy metal band in Iran and outfitting Googoosh with a pair of green wristbands, the artist avows his support for the revolutionary youth in Iran. The image of blind justice on her dress, the resolve on her face, and the sword and rose she holds speak to her clear intention to win.

PANTEA KARIMI The signature characteristics of Pantea Karimi’s aesthetic are technical precision, meticulous composition, strategically employed colors, and intricate—often impossibly delicate—details. Her passion for the printed word and image has undoubtedly been the preeminent influence in her art making practice. Her frequent use of female imagery is greatly informed by her longstanding curiosity about the assimilation of Western ideals of beauty

in Iran and around the world. Drawing on both of these, Karimi’s main enterprise has been to peel back layers of the “truth” to uncover the machinery that relentlessly proffers fabricated information that we come to accept as common knowledge. In her serigraph print, Outer Beauty, Karimi draws on memories from her youth of how Iranian police would enforce the law that required women to completely cover their heads, how they would harass young girls for leaving any part of their hair exposed, and even that wearing pink would warrant arrest. In defiance against such restrictive dress code enforcement, Iranian women and girls began to express themselves by decorating their hair underneath as well as the exterior of their scarves and styling their eyebrows. Elegantly sculpted eyebrows, a pink Iranian rose, a golden comb, a red barrette, and a purple butterfly hair clip seem to float like styling options upon a faceless woman who is perfectly posed for a fashion magazine shoot. These innocent decorations, positioned beneath a noose-like string of prayer beads, are the beautiful instruments of a kind of feminine rebellion-under-the-radar. Upon a brilliant green ground, and with words that look like Farsi scribble dancing to her left like a stream of thought emerging from the psyche of this unidentified Iranian every-woman, the artist entreats the viewer to consider how women exercise agency as they navigate beauty and power as part of their daily lives.


Order and chaos clash in Karimi’s serigraph print, Voices. Two swaths of illegible text, one in bright yellow and a second in orange, and beautiful rosettes of crumpled newspaper rain down on the green streets of Iran. Karimi multiplies and juxtaposes this image taken from an actual photo of a post-election protest to underscore the scope and frequency of just such a scene throughout the country. Disguised in an easy to discern typography in ordered columns like newsprint, layers of illegible text sabotage the people’s need for the truth.

AMITIS MOTEVALLI Amitis Motevalli’s installation, performance and mixed media work offer a fertile yet complex terrain in which Iranian, Islamic, and Western symbols and iconography can be meaningfully explored. Her two pieces in the show, Pose-U, (“poh-zu” means show-off) and Houri, demonstrate both the artist’s versatility with using a wide range of media and her penchant for challenging cultural paradigms. Both works speak to Motevalli’s fascination about the function of shrines, where fleeting mortality and the eternal act of remembrance commune. Marble was ubiquitous upon Motevalli’s last visit to Iran, which coincided with the election. About this visit Motevalli recounts, “The two things I saw the most in Iran were trash

and marble. I visited many gravesites because so many family members had passed away.” She also discovered that marble facades had become commonplace, as if to convey a message that the country must be prospering or that this highly prized stone is abundant. “The exterior doesn’t tell the truth,” Motevalli asserts, “A façade either breaks apart or you become it.” As the material of choice both for the many family gravestones she visited and the facades of plentiful urban buildings reconstructed after the Iran-Iraq war, marble aptly serves Motevalli’s purpose of illuminating the temporality and impermanence in which our lives are embedded. The marble slabs of Pose-U bear a poem in Farsi by the most celebrated contemporary Iranian poet, Ahmad Shamlou, chiseled and inlaid with austere gold leaf and adorned with delicate flowers. The words evoke longing for the apprehension of the unknown and the self and conclude with the confidence that comes from harnessing new possibilities. Motevalli’s phototransparency installation, Houri, is inspired by a widely held belief that was used as a tactic to motivate Palestinian suicide bombers in the late 1970s in Israel. The Iranian military later adopted this tactic, enlisting teenage boys to walk on mines to enable the troops to advance against their Iraqi foes. By answering the call to sacrifice oneself for the good of one’s family and one’s country, suicide bombers were told that they would have 72 virgins


at their disposal once they reach heaven. Motevalli mocks the tragic glory of this appeal to martyrdom in warfare, offering herself, pictured at the tender, transformative age of 13, as the sought-after Houri. From 72 transparent iterations of her teenage portrait installed like a wall of images on the gallery’s tall storefront windows, she gazes enticingly at the viewer with the kind of self-assured bravado that only youth can buoy.

FERESHTEH TOOSI Fereshteh Toosi’s art explores the roots of knowledge via stereotypes, celebrity, and politics in the form of video, sound, installation, performance, and public intervention. She employs pop culture and political icons, like Saddam Hussein, and culturally specific stereotypes, such as genie bottles and magic carpets, to lure viewers into participating in or interacting with her work. Toosi refers to this tactic she uses as a means “…To investigate what people know and how they’ve come to feel comfortable with their own versions of the truth. …Pop icons offer access to a vernacular understanding of the world. By seizing the pleasure of mythology and using it proactively, I hope to resist the oversimplification of ideas that such fantasies have come to represent.”

Toosi’s installation piece, Untitled, similarly demonstrates the artist’s inventive use of the familiar to call the known into question and bring the unknown into focus. She draws inspiration from a special cosmic phenomenon that she witnessed upon her first visit to Iran as an adult in 1999: the last total solar eclipse of the Twentieth Century. Reflecting on her memories of that day, Toosi assembles a veritable universe of banal domestic objects that are easily recognizable and non-threatening: God’s eyes in drab and punchy colors and bright crocheted afghans draped over partially inflated weather balloons. The soft crafty blankets shimmer with vibrant color and an array of textures—some inviting, others seemingly adversarial—laced through with a multitude of plastic zip ties in contrasting hues. A myriad of God’s eyes made of yarn and adorned with fishing bait corners float along the walls and seem to sparkle above the blanketed spheres. Concentric neon yellow rings made of tent pipes and a pair of astronomical posters from the time of the eclipse help chart the orbit of the less-than-celestial bodies in this synthetic outer space built almost exclusively of kitschy crafts. The only natural media used in her piece hang in strands from a small, multicolored God’s eye in the corner: esfand seeds used as incense in Iran to ward off bad spirits.


This simulacrum is clearly not the result of science or theorems but the artist’s own response to a lifelong relationship to Iran that is mediated by time, distance, and emigration. In fact, Toosi’s installation operates somewhat like a microcosm that conceptually maps the unmappable: her own cultural space, where her cultural heterogeneity and her desire to remain connected to her birthplace are commensurable, and thus, parts of the same universe.

CONCLUSION In Traces of Being, Iran inhabits the lives of the artists in multivalent ways and is many things: a beloved birthplace, contested territory, a cultural touchstone, a raw and bittersweet trove of family history, and a removed homeland that reminds us we are connected to so many others, sometimes in immutable ways. What this exhibit also lays bare is that Iran is a place that many people now want to discover for the first time. While Shahbazi’s hope for this exhibit is that it will reignite people’s memories, it will for many people, undoubtedly, open a new door toward a broader perspective. That is why Shahbazi conceived an interactive wall that would serve as a timeline from 1979 to the present.

He explains, “We asked viewers to write and post a memory and we encouraged them to bring in a photograph or memorabilia or anything else that can function the same way. People don’t have to be Iranian to participate, and memories don’t have to be about Iran. I think the end result will produce something totally different that could have its own value. And, once it’s all said and done, there will be memories of Iran and memories of parallel lives that create a universal memory.” The exhibit offers viewers who live in the city that boasts the largest Iranian population outside of Iran the opportunity to see that country through different eyes. By glimpsing Iran through the lens of the artists’ own memories and creative conceptualizations, and by contributing memories from different parts of the world to be intermingled with those about Iran, we gain the chance to better comprehend Iran’s stake in the future we all share.


I really wanted viewers to reflect on their own experiences and memories, especially about Iran. The only way to do that is to invite them to participate. There are so many ways we collect and can represent memories. When you’re an artist, it comes out as an art piece. We created a wall that has a timeline from 1979 to the present. We asked viewers to write and post a memory, and we encouraged

them to bring in a photograph or memorabilia or anything else that can function the same way. People don’t have to be Iranian to participate, and memories don’t have to be about Iran. I think the end result will produce something totally different that could have its own value. And, once it’s all said and done, there will be memories of Iran and memories of parallel lives that create a universal memory. Shervin Shahbazi


Memory Wall, 8 ft x 28 ft, photo taken on Sept. 14, 2009 Time-line illustration by Orameh Bagheri


Memory Wall, Gallery Views, Sept. 12, 2009


The first piece of marble my grandmothers owned were on their gravestones. These graves were also the first piece of land my grandparents owned in my ancestral land, Iran. Upon my return to Iran since my family left in 1977, I felt that this otherwise rare stone was in abundance. I saw it on the gravestones of the relatives who passed while I was gone. I saw it in the shrines dedicated to the Shia Martyrs, either grandiose such as the Imam Reza shrine in Mashad or humble such as the Imamzadeh Yahya, a shrine, which my family is caretakers of. I saw it in the Masjids, such as the Jumah Masjid in Isfahan where marble slabs are used as skylights on the ceiling of an underground prayer room. I saw it in the reconstruction of cities; on the skyscrapers, apartment buildings and civic spaces, that had been in ruins after nearly a decade of air strikes in the Iran-Iraq war.

Amitis Motevalli

Marble is a metamorphic rock formed through pressure, temperature and time. Within the context of art and architectural history, marble has a symbolic connection with luxury and prestige. In Iran, we are very aware of our presentation, in particular to outsiders. I found that marble certainly had the intention of symbolizing prestige, but was so accessible to the Iranian public in some way that it began to symbolize death and martyrdom, it also symbolized reconstruction and metamorphosis, just as in the stages of the rock itself. It was not so much about public ownership, as it was about facades, pure symbols that begin to transform into the actuality of the landscape. In this piece, I work with the medium nostalgically. With these various scraps and pieces of marble, I want to reconstruct, not so much architecturally, but expressively the emotional connection I have with my homeland and it’s stages of metamorphosis and it’s presentation to an always captivated international audience.


Amitis Motevalli, Pose-U, Marble, Dimensions Variable, 2009


There was a myth that was spread that began through western propaganda after several suicide bombings had taken place in the early 1980’s, that the people who killed themselves were doing this because they were told in “terrorist cells”, that if they became martyrs, they would die and go to heaven and would be met with 72 virgins. This myth and propaganda has spread to Europe and the United States where you find it quoted in jokes and it’s become a common belief that this is why suicide bombers take their lives. What is more interesting to me is that although this myth was used to debase Muslims and struggles for justice, it has been re-appropriated by many Muslims. The derivation is from a hadith written by Al-Tirmidhi in the 9th century (The Prophet, peace be upon him, was heard say: “The smallest reward for the people of Paradise is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and be met by seventy two houris, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby. This hadith was also disputed, since it could not be proven that the Prophet actually said it.

Amitis Motevalli

I was 13 years old in this self-portrait, taken for my 9th grade photography class in 1983. I was very intentional with my background, lighting, outfit and make up. I wanted to highlight my obviously boyish short shag haircut. I also wanted to look into the camera with a tantalizing gaze, to state my awareness of my sexuality. But I was 13, just learning art and experimenting with imagery. I made 72 repetitions of this photograph for the humor in depicting me as the ultimate virgin when you go to paradise. Since I strive for justice in my life and work, I thought it would be interesting if upon my arrival to paradise, I would be met by houris who are I at age 13. I also want to reflect on the ways in which we re-appropriate and accept identity markings created by “outsiders”. Is it as Fanon says an aspect of “internalized colonization” or an empowering reclamation?


Amitis Motevalli, Houri, Photo Transparency, Dimensions Variable, 2009


Amitis Motevalli, Houri, Detail


Amitis Motevalli, Pose-U, Details


Amitis Motevalli Born in Tehran, Iran 1969 BA, San Francisco State University 1995 MFA, Claremont Graduate University 1998 Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA Solo Exhibitions 2008 Threshold of the Innocents and Martyred (Harameh Massomeen va Shohadha), 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica CA 2006 Right; Rite; Write Piece, Performance, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, CA 2005 Re-Aiming the Canon, Slanguage, Los Angeles, CA 2002 Stop it at it’s Source. Deep River Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Selected Group Exhibitions 2009 Staybite: Modes of Operation, The University of Texas at Dallas The Feminist Art Project Bus Tour, Los Angeles, CA Tan Lejos de Dios…, UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico You Make Me Laugh, S1F, Los Angeles, CA 2008 A Guide to Democracy in America, Creative Time Project The Audacity of Desperation, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, CA Chora Collection, Farmlab/La Casa de Tunnel

2007 (Un) Holy Selves, Peter Jones Gallery, Chicago, IL Voices of Resistance, Around the Coyote, Chicago, IL And That Was How it Ended, McNish Gallery, Oxnard City College Migration Study, Phantom Gallery, Los Angeles, CA First Kiss, Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles, CA No Human Being is Illegal, CSPG at Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles, CA 2006 Sexta Feria del Libro en el Zocalo, Mexico City, Mexico Does Religion Kill, 18th Street Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Irrational 5, Performances, Track16, Santa Monica, CA 2004 Fade, Luckman Gallery, CSU Los Angeles, California I Am A Curator, Chisenhale, Gallery, London, UK Revolt, She Said, Forde, Switzerland 2003 Enter Intercessor, RAID Projects, Los Angeles, CA Democracy When?, the Project, Los Angeles, CA 2002 Democracy When?, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, CA Utopian Grids, Coagula Projects, Los Angeles, CA New Trajectories in Street Influenced Art, ICU Art, Los Angeles, CA 2001 Overflowing, Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Axiomatic Arcade, Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Capital Art, Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Tricky, Brewery Projects, Los Angeles, CA


Awards and Fellowships California Community Foundation, Emerging Artist Fellowship James Irvine Foundation, Vision of California Montalvo Artist Residency Fellowship National Endowment for the Arts / Andy Warhol Foundation, Project fellowship at 18th Street Arts Center Publications Books Voices of Resistance, Muslim Women on Love, War and Sexuality Catalogues 2008 A Guide to Democracy in America, Creative Time Books Visions from a New California, Alliance of Artists’ Communities 2006 I Am A Curator, Chisenhale Gallery Press Enter Intercessor, RAID Projects

Amitis Motevalli, Pose-U, Gallery View

2002 Democracy When?, Catalogue, LAS 2000 Capital Art, Catalogue, Smart Art Press 1997 My First Work, Catalogue, Pasadena City College Projects The Sand Ninja and friends, (Performance and intervention) Ak-Ami (Performance, interventions and media) From the Barrel (founder, artist collective) Hamaam Project (dialogue project with Muslim Women Artist collaboration with Sarah Husain) Stupid Muslim Joke (series of performances and web based interactions and dialogue) Amitis Motevalli, Houri, Gallery View


The ocean of planets and stars in this installation is created with an odd assortment of American kitsch craft objects including Afghan blankets that, despite their name, are not from the Middle East. While traveling in Iran, I began collecting esfand handicrafts. These are items made with the seeds of Peganum harmala (Syrian Rue) which when burned, is believed to ward off bad spirits like the evil eye. I was surprised to find some esfand objects in the shape of yarn art known in the States as “god’s eyes” or “ojos de dios”, as they migrated to the U.S. from Mexico. God’s eye yarn art is not indigenous to Iran, but like the Afghan blanket, it has taken on a hybrid identity.

Fereshteh Toosi

My parents left Iran just before the Islamic Revolution and I’ve lived in the U.S. since I was an infant. My heritage as an Iranian is often overshadowed by my experience growing up in the States, but it remains a present force in my life. During my first visit back to Iran as an adult, I experienced the last solar eclipse of the 20th century. This installation is about the obfuscation of culture and the memory of a big sky that transcends my life as an Iranian and American.


Fereshteh Toosi, Untitled, Mixed Media Installation, Dimensions Variable, 2009


Fereshteh Toosi, Untitled, Details


Fereshteh Toosi Born in Shiraz, Iran M.F.A. Carnegie Mellon University, School of Art. Pittsburgh, PA, 2004 Shansi Memorial Association Fellowship to Japan, 2000 B.A. Oberlin College. Oberlin, OH, 1998 Scuola Lorenzo de’Medici | Art Institute of Florence. Florence, Italy, 1996 Lives and works in Chicago, IL Selected Exhibitions, Screenings, and Performances 2008 Outer Ear Festival of Sound. Experimental Sound Studio. Chicago, IL GENDER ALARM! Nouveaux féminismes en art actuel. La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse. Montréal, CA Creative Time’s Democracy in America. Park Avenue Armory. New York, NY Erie Canal to Love Canal. Hallwalls. Buffalo, NY 2007 Operation Pickle Lipe Art Park. Syracuse, NY Coyote Spells Around the Coyote Arts Festival. Chicago, IL E4. Transformer Gallery. Washington, DC Multimediale: Capturing the Capital Provisions Library Gallery. Washington, DC Handjob. Space 1026 Gallery. Philadelphia, PA 2006 Portal Spaces Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. Grand Rapids, MI Environment: Western PA Sanford Gallery. Clarion, PA Matter Journal Wolverine Farm Publishing. Fort Collins, CO Dance Dance Revolutionary! TAI + LEE. Pittsburgh, PA thirdfloor magazine DVD issue #4. New York, NY

2005 59 Second Film/Video Festival Project 59. New York, NY LTMXTR at MixFestival, New York City and Outfest, Los Angeles, CA Live Video Karaoke with Blithe Riley. Andy Warhol Museum. Pittsburgh, PA Signal & Noise Video Satellite Exchange. Vancouver, BC, Canada Pittsburgh Biennial. Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Pittsburgh, PA BRI:AIR with Carolyn Lambert. Boston Center for the Arts. Boston, MA Film Kitchen Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Pittsburgh, PA 2004 The Tea Party with Carolyn Lambert. Berwick Research Institute. Boston, MA Reel Pittsburgh Groupe Intervention Vidéo. Montréal, Canada Project Security Orange with A.K. Burnes. Art in General. New York, NY 2003 LTTR Andrew Kreps Gallery. New York, NY Man, I Feel Like a Woman. Space 1026. Philadelphia, PA Residencies, Grants, and Awards 2009 Critical Encounters Grant, Columbia College Chicago 2008 Cultural Resources Council Grant, New York State Council on the Arts 2007 Experimental Sound Studio Residency. Chicago, IL 2006 Experimental Television Center Residency. Owego, NY 2005 Partners in the Arts Grant, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts 2004 Virginia Center for the Creative Arts funded residency. Amherst, VA 2004 Berwick Research Institute Artist in Research with Carolyn Lambert. Boston, MA 2004 Artist Opportunity Grant, ProArts. Pittsburgh, PA 2004 Small Project Help Grants, Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA 2003 Cheteyan Award, Society for Contemporary Craft. Pittsburgh, PA 2002 Natasha and Jacques Gelman Trust Grant


Conferences and Public Lectures 2008 Oral History in the Digital Age, Oral History Association annual conference Pittsburgh, PA Visible Memories Conference, Central New York Humanities Corridor Syracuse, NY Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 2007 Beyond the Waves: Art Informed by Feminisms, University of California, Los Angeles Working Conditions: Considering Risk in Arts Administration, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL Visiting Artist Lecture Series, George Mason University, VA 2005 Performance Studies International Conference, Brown University, RI 2004 Community/Performance Conference, Bryant College, RI Academic Appointments 2008-present Lecturer in New Millennium Studies: The First Year Seminar Columbia College Chicago 2007-2008 Faculty Fellow in Arts and Civic Engagement - Syracuse University. Syracuse, NY 2006-2007 Visiting Assistant Professor in Studio Art Saint Mary’s College of Maryland. Saint Mary’s City, MD

Fereshteh Toosi, Untitled, Gallery View


I am layers of my past, memories laid on top of another, all melding with each other into my fabric of being, forever altered, always accompanying me. Beyond Glamour, Power, Contradiction is the shared consciousness of ages, of beauty, pain, and perseverance. My work is a collection of my memories, a past cut, sewn, and patch worked together into a boutique of dreams I call CHIC. Some memories are those I wish to leave behind like a passing fad but they never leave; others I wish to relive, wearing them over and over like my favorite tee shirt. They fuse into a personal artistic tapestry awash in original prints on paper, fabrics from various bazaars, pages torn from childhood revolutionary comic strips, newspapers from different political periods of my relationship with Iran; they are childhood

Hushidar Mortezaie

afternoons in awe of glittering rang-a-rang videos of Googoosh’s latest style, the chills walking in the alley ways of Tehran as the dusk sounds of the Azan welcomed me home to faded memories rejuvenated into my present; the reviews as terrorist fashion designer/artist because I flaunted my Iranian heritage; westoxication and assimilation and the post-modern counter-reaction allowing for modernist anarchic young fashion peacocks, warriors of glamour punching Iran into the 21st century; veils as cages and veils as holy adornments of my mother and aunt underneath the most brilliant domes as the songs of communal prayers haunted the past; floral chadors and flowing tunics in Mashad; a despotic theocracy murdering pacifist protestors, poetic valiant youth, simply for their right to have choices and hopes for their future; the fear of war always lurking in the corner; the unforgiving sterility of Western bombs, the capitalist greed. These are all memories that give color to the visual collage of my life.


Hushidar Mortezaie, CHIC CHIC CHIC, Silk Screen on Sequins, 24 x 48 in, 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Bazaar Mixed Media Collage 70 x 20 in 2009

Hushidar Mortezaie Solh/Peace Mixed Media Collage 70 x 20 in 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Arezou/Wish Mixed Media Collage 70 x 20 in 2009

Hushidar Mortezaie Baham/Together Mixed Media Collage 70 x 20 in 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Cadeau #1 We Will Not Submit Silk Screen and Paint on Sequins 20 x 16 in 2009

Hushidar Mortezaie Cadeau #2 Glamour At Any Cost Silk Screen and Paint on Sequins 20 x 16 in 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Cadeau #3 Sole Jewel Creation Silk Screen and Paint on Sequins 20 x 16 in 2009

Hushidar Mortezaie Cadeau #4 We Will Be Victorious Silk Screen and Paint on Sequins 20 x 16 in 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Mirror Cult of the Divine Silk Screen and Paint on Lace 25 x 15.25 in 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Mirror Independence Silk Screen and Paint on Lace 25 x 15.25 in 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Prayers for Peace Costume and Mixed Media Dimensions Variable 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Militant Goes Shopping Costume and Mixed Media Dimensions variable 2009


Hushidar Mortezaie Fashion Institute of Technology, 1996 Parsons School of Design, 1995 University of California, Berkeley, Fine Arts Department, 1994 Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA Selected Exhibitions and Presentations 2007 The New Look: The New Iranian Aesthetic, I.A.A.B. Panel/Presentation, N.Y.U. NY, NY 2005 Welcome curated by Farhad Moshiri, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, NY, NY 2004 Tonight We Are Iranians, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, NY, NY 2003 Paris Is Burning, Spring 2004 runway presentation, MAO space, NY, NY 2002 Theatre of the Reflecting Pool, costume design-multi-media performance on Forough Farrokhzad, C.U.N.Y, NY, NY Illusions of Grandeur, Fall 2003 runway presentation, MAO Space, NY, NY Icons, Spring 2003 runway presentation, MAO Space-5th Ave., NY, NY 2001 Roses from the Gutter, Spring 2002 runway presentation, Ukranian National Home, NY, NY 2000 The Persian Collection, Fall 2001 runway presentation, Arude Gallery Space, NY, NY

Selected Works 2009 “Fashion’s Night Out”, Los Angeles Times, September 10,2009 2008 “Holy Designers”, Hijabi Fashionista.com “Why We Love Hushi”, Elan Magazine, Issue no.3 Sex and the City Motion Picture, top worn by Sarah Jessica Parker 2005 “Tehran Street Fashion”, Iranian.com “Welcome” review, New York Times, Arts section April 08,2005 “75%: Archetypes of Tehran”, Bidoun Magazine, Issue 5 2004 “From Happy Meals to Haute Hejabs”, Bidoun Magazine, Issue 1 2003 NY Times Magazine, 11/2/03 “What A Frill”, NY Post, 9/21/03 “A Different Drummer”, Women’s Wear Daily, 9/17/03 “Editorial”, W Magazine, September 2003 Madonna wears several pieces for European tour “Along for the Ride”, Women’s Wear Daily, 2/13/01 Luire, Beyonce wearing Persian hand painted leather jacket on cover Vogue Italia, March 2003 Linda Evangelista wearing complete head to toe “ Ronald McDonald” inspired couture “Michael and Hushi”, Flaunt Magazine, March 2003 “Pop’n Fresh”, Nylon Magazine, March 2003 2002 “Editorial”, W Magazine, December 2002 “Fashion Frenzy”, Women’s Wear Daily, 9/25/2001 “New York’s Next Wave”, W Magazine, September 2002 Paper Magazine, 5th Annual Beautiful People Issue “Re-orient”, Tank magazine “Editorial”, Harper’s Bazaar, February 2002


2001 “Ones to Watch”, Time Out New York, Sept 2001 “Editorial”, W Magazine, July 2001 “Kaffia Society”, Wallpaper Magazine, July 2001 “Generation Terrorists”, Vogue U.K., June 2001 “Muslim”, Neo 2, May/June 2001 “We Are Family”, Elle Magazine, May 2001 “The Guns and Ammo Club”, Women’s Wear Daily, 2/20/01 “The Body Politic”, Women’s Wear Daily, 2/15/01 2000 Sex In the City, episode 43 season 3 Lace print Persian miniature gown worn by Sarah Jessica Parker 1999 Fight Club, photo print tops worn by Brad Pitt featured in the motion picture Hushidar Mortezaie, Chic Boutique, Gallery Views


My life is a continuum of past and present. My being is not defined by a geographical boundary; it is affected by events from the present as well as those from the past, all woven onto a tapestry of time and place. Past and present, East and West inform my “hybrid identity.” My first introduction to Western culture was through popular magazines during my childhood. Those colorful pages filled with intriguing images and columns full of English text, though illegible to me at the time, became my childhood drawing boards. Later, I developed a more mature interest in published media through investigating 19th century Iranian newspapers and popular magazines from the Pahlavi period (1925-1979). Being inspired by the visual features and content of mass media, I combine both image and text in my works. My paintings consist of handdrawn individual forms, dots and lines that are derived from Persian scripts. They oscillate between pre-modern handwritten calligraphy and modern mass produced letters found in published media but are not legible. Illegible text in my work also creates an “illegible content” which runs contrary to the meaningful purpose of text. In addition to

Pantea Karimi

illegible text, the scenes in my artwork use symbols and made-up characters combined with iconic media images that serve as metaphors for cultural identity, societal restrictions, corporate hegemony, and political censorship. I find that symbols serve as powerful visual tools capable of rendering diametrically opposed perspectives. In some compositions, color is an implicit protagonist and illegible text functions as abstract form, while in others these elements allude to structure, chaos, or coercion. I use ink, watercolor and serigraphy as the production methods for my works. My aim is to evoke, thus I avoid the explicit framing of concepts of good and evil or anything in between. Traces of Being focuses on my experiences and memories of living in and outside Iran, those vivid but tangled impressions that, despite passage of time, have not faded away.


Pantea Karimi works, Gallery View


Pantea Karimi, Connected, Serigraph, Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 21 x 29 in, 2009


Pantea Karimi, Paradox, Serigraph, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 21 x 29 in, 2009


Pantea Karimi Voices Serigraph on Paper 29.5 x 21 in 2009


Pantea Karimi The Green Mouring Serigraph on Paper 29.5 x 21 in 2009


Pantea Karimi Stage Serigraph on Paper 29 x 22 in 2009


Pantea Karimi Echo Serigraph on Paper 30 x 22 in 2009


Pantea Karimi Holy Vanity Serigraph on Paper 29 x 22 in 2009


Pantea Karimi Outer Beauty Serigraph on Paper 30 x 22 in 2009


Pantea Karimi, Threads, Serigraph and Watercolor on Paper, 30 x 45 in, 2009


Pantea Karimi, Silence, Serigraph, Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 21 x 29 in, 2009


Pantea Karimi, Trenched, Watercolor on Paper, 20 x 28 in, 2009


Pantea Karimi, Point of No Return, Watercolor on Paper, 30 x 46 in, 2009


Pantea Karimi Master of Design: Graphic Design, Art University, Tehran, Iran, 1999 BTEC Diploma in Art and Design: Printmaking, Painting and Glass, Hastings College of Arts and Technology, Hastings, UK, 2004 Masters of Fine Arts: Printmaking and Painting, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, 2009 Lives and works in San Jose, CA Group and Solo Exhibitions 2009 Warhol Now and Then, A tribute to “Warhol Live”, de Young College Night event, Wilsey Court, de Young Museum Lift Off, Institute of Contemporary of Art, San Jose, CA Masters of Fine Arts Exhibition, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA Unseen Unsaid, Climate Theater, San Francisco, CA Works on Paper, Community School of Music and Arts Gala, Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club, Menlo Park, CA 2008 Advancement to Candidacy Art Exhibition, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA Summer Art Exhibition, Common House Gallery, Art Ark Center, San Jose, CA Works on Paper, Community School of Music and Arts 40th Anniversary Gala, Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club, Menlo Park, CA Works On Paper, Orchard Commercial, San Jose, CA Winter Art Exhibition, Sobrato Center, San Jose, CA 2007 Iranian Alliances Across Borders, Ellipse Arts Center, Arlington, VA San Jose State University Graduate Students Exhibition, Common House Gallery, Art Ark Center, San Jose, CA San Francisco Open Studios, Gate House, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

2003 Art Show On The Pier, Pier Gallery, Hastings, UK Challenge the Nail, Salon Des Arts, London, UK (juried art exhibition) New Riviera Group Summer Exhibition, New Riviera Gallery, Hastings, UK 14th Annual Conference of the Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation, The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK New Riviera Group Spring Exhibition, New Riviera Gallery, Hastings, UK 2002 Human Rain, Lauderdale House, London, UK Challenge the Nail, Salon Des Arts, London, UK (juried art exhibition) Visual Art Exhibition, Conquest Hospital Gallery, Hastings, UK 1999 Xorshid Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran 1996 Fifth Annual Exhibition of Iranian Women Artists, Niyavaran Gallery, Tehran, Iran 1995 Fourth Annual Exhibition of Iranian Women Artists, Niyavaran Gallery, Tehran, Iran Haft Samar Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran 1994 Third Annual Exhibition of Iranian Women Artists, Niyavaran Gallery, Tehran, Iran Third Annual Exhibition of College Graphic Design Students, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran


Publications and Reviews McGurn, Elizabeth, “MFA Exhibition”, San Jose State University Spartan Daily, May 2009 Hack, Anton. “ART”, The Local Rag, UK, Issue #1, Sep 2003 Kardum, Maya. “Iran Rivoluzionarie In Conrnice”, Iodonna Speciale Gioielli, Italy, Issue #6, Feb 2001 “Manifestation of Feelings: A selection of Paintings by Iranian Female Artists”, Iran, Feb 1999 “Manifestation of Feelings: A selection of Paintings by Iranian Female Artists”, Iran, Aug 1997 “Iranian Women Exhibition”, Iran Journal, Iran, Issue # 234, Nov 1995 Scholarships and Awards 2009 Orchard Commercial North First ArtSPACE scholarship, San Jose, CA 2008 Orchard Commercial North First ArtSPACE award, San Jose, CA School of Art and Design TA scholarship, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA

Pantea Karimi works, Gallery Views


Acknowledgements Shervin Shahbazi and the Morono Kiang Gallery would like to thank the following people whom without their invaluable assistance, this show and catalogue would not have been possible: Sonia Mak, Orameh Bagheri, Ali Ashouri, Robert Adanto, Jason 71, Qian Cheng, Navid Ghaem Maghami, Rob Prideaux, John Carr, Pilar Perez, Miros Valipour, and Joseph Zuniga.

Amitis Motevalli, Houri, Outside Gallery View



Traces of Being, Iran in the Passage of Memories