On the Land consisted of a series of workshops leading to a processual performance in collaboration with the students of Dar Al- Kalima University in Bethlehem, Palestine. We examined the effects of state violence, occupation and war on the land as a responsive habitat. It was staged as a walk in Wadi Al-Makhrour, ancient agricultural land under Israeli control. Starting with a guided tour of the historical village of Battir led by Professor Mazen Qumsiyeh, founder of Palestine Museum of Natural History, the walk through Wadi Al-Makhrour was led by students whose families’ stories of 1948 and 1967 displacements were played back. It culminated in a collective scream followed by singing of traditional Palestinian songs.TOP
Performed as a pilgrimage, Declarations I: On the Move is an artist’s response to the traumas of forced/voluntary migration, as well as a declaration of universal right to freedom of movement. Between January and April 2016, I made a journey along the “refugee route” in reverse, from Germany through Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece to Turkey. At every stop I met with migrants and refugees (many were still on the move and some had settled) as well as artists and activists who supported freedom of movement and refugee rights. Drawing on my own experience as a 1980s refugee, I worked with locals and created alternative spaces for interaction through sharing of food and culture. I broadcast this ground journey on a blog and a Facebook page, and through a series of site-specific cards that were created as I traveled and dispatched to subscribers by post. These media recorded some of the stories that had been shared with me and my own observations and reflections. The journey produced a large archive including documentary and impressionistic video and audio footage, still images, journal writing, sketches, mail art and a vast network of relations. TOP
Declarations is comprised of two site-specific performances/interventions consisting of On the Move, a declaration of universal right to freedom of movement performed as a journey along the “refugee route” during March and April 2016, and On the Land, a declaration of the rights of all beings to safe habitat performed in Bethlehem in May 2016. Declarations begins from many departures premised on one object: the Cyrus Cylinder. Long considered a world heritage artifact, this ancient text, partially surviving as a clay cylinder, is hailed as “the first human rights document developed in the first multi-cultural empire” over two millennia ago. I departed from a focus on the historical cylinder, leaving it in museum confines, and decided to do this project as a thought process and a series of rituals and performances. TOP
Like Flesh and Blood juxtaposed selections from the memoirs of Joseph Emin, an Armenian Liberationist who went to England in 1750s, with an oral history of the Mississauga Nation and the contemporaneous events leading to the occupation and settlement of Toronto. It was performed in collaboration with Naomi Binder Wall and John Croutch as part of the 2015 Mayworks Festival as a walking tour/theatre-on-the-move at Queen’s Park in Toronto. The performance was webcasted and recorded live. The video was edited with additional material as a stand-alone piece and included in an exhibition with the same title that included other pieces that explored issues of indigeneity, migration, colonization, settlement, and North-South/East- West dichotomies. TOP
Inhabiting the North was a dinner gathering, interactive performance and conversation, with guest readers Sarah Abu-Sharar and Zainab Amadahy, and food artists Salma Al-Atassi, Claude Awad, Azar Masoumi, women of Regent Park Catering Collective, Johl Ringuette (Nishdish), and Nicole Tanguay. Held at Beit Zatoun, the performance brought collaborators from treaty and indigenous communities together with an audience of women and trans women invited through community networking. The performance included a reading of Sayyida Salme bint Said’s memoirs against the backdrop of a video projection journaling travels through a winter landscape on Turtle Island. Published in German in 1886, Sayyida Salma’s memoirs are the earliest written and published in the “West” by a woman from the “East.” The reading was punctuated with critical questions that prompted cross-generational and cross-cultural conversations among the participants about critical issues in Indigeneity, migration, settlement, education, culture and gender in Canada. The performance was broadcast live on the internet and recorded. Also projected were videos of the food artists as they worked and talked about the cultural significance of the dishes they brought to the feast, and the role of food in social relations and communal welfare. The evening ended with a short video of the 2015 Toronto Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as the event raised funds for It Starts with Us project. Included in VOZ-À-VOZ / VOICE-À-VOICE exhibition at YYZ in Fall 2015, Inhabiting the North video combines the different elements of the live event into a stand-alone narrative. TOP
Wonders of the Sea is a site-specific durational performance. This collaboration with guest reader Heather Hermant fuses embodied calligraphy with live reading to retrace the journey of Mirza I’tisam al-Din, a Bengali scholar who visited England in 1765 on mission from the Indian Emperor. He witnessed closely the colonization of India and lamented the English treachery that aborted his mission. Wonders of the Sea explores East-West encounters and notions of wonder, curiosity, desire, spectacle and spectatorship through the perspective of a pre-colonial subject whose account is the first travelogue of Europe written in Farsi language. The performance opened as a participatory space during which the audience engaged in the performance processes and interacted with the artists. The full performance was streamed live. TOP
Andrea Assaf's work, titled I Am/Not Enamored, a durational performance intervention, was created as a response to Nao Bustamante's "Silver and Gold" which was a featured performance at the Encuentro. Over the previous three days, Gita Hashemi's embodied writing interventions, titled Imagined Encounters with My Other Half had been marking missed opportunities for hemispheric dialogue inclusive of the diversity of people and histories present on the continent. On her way to mark the Hall Building, where all of the Encuentro's keynote speeches and panel conversations were held, Gita ran into Nyx Zierhut who told her about Andrea's impromptu performance also at the Hall Building. They walked there together and followed Andrea's voice to where she was already performing. The collaboration between Andrea Assaf and Gita Hashemi was unplanned and improvised. TOP
An embodied writing intervention at the Hemispheric Institute's Encuentro at Concordia University in Montreal. TOP
Passages draws from travel writing by travelers from the East to the West during the 18th and 19th centuries. Developed through extensive research, the project consists of Wonders of the Sea (based on travelogue by Mirza I'tessam al-Din Tajpouri), Inhabiting the North (based on memoirs of Sayyada Salma bint Said, aka Emily Ruete), and Like Flesh and Blood (based on memoirs of Joseph Emin). TOP
In the making since 2008, XX is a mixed-media installation composed of over 50 prints and a slide projection. The work traces a body in motion passing through time. TOP
The performance Ouster Remixed is part of the project Headquarters: Pathology of an Ouster. It engaged volunteer performers from diverse backgrounds whose histories are marked by colonial interventions in a collaborative raeding performance of a remixed script. This piece was first staged at A Space Gallery at the opening of a solo show, Time Lapsed, and with a different group, in MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) in Nov-Dec, 2013 at the opening of The Idea of Freedom. TOP
Headquarters: Pathology of an Ouster (performance, installation, webcast) fuses embodied writing and performance. The piece is based on the 1953 coup d’etat in Iran. The first operation of its kind and the model for similar interventions elsewhere, the 1953 coup is highly significant in shaping Iran’s contemporary political dynamics as well as in the history of Iran-US relations. In Headquarters I engage with this history through the now-declassified CIA report. The installation includes the entire report rewritten by hand on paper (75’ x 5’ total dimensions). This piece - including a performance Ouster Remixed - first staged at A Space Gallery as part of my solo show, Time Lapsed, and in MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) in Nov-Dec, 2013 as part of solo show The Idea of Freedom. TOP
Ephemeral Monument, originally created in 2008, was restaged in 2013, as part of solo shows at A Space Gallery in Toronto in March, and MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) in Nov-Dec, 2013. TOP
Art is (bleep) was an intervention staged at The Third Space exhibition at York Quay Gallery in Toronto. Our intention was to bring attention to the censoring of three pages from The Book of Illuminations at the insistence of the curator. The intervention was staged twice, at the opening of the exhibit and later during the curator's tour where we entered into a discussion with the audience about censorship. TOP
The Book of Illuminations is an exploration in writing as process and performance, and language as ritual and visual. This piece marks a return to physical material and a temporary distancing from virtual/digital media in my work. The project is rooted in the imperative to understand the neuances of my intellectual and emotional shaping through my first language, Farsi, while staying away from the pitfalls of auto-biography as a highly sensationalized genre in the context of diasporic Iranian (and Middle Eastern) writing. It was exhibited as an installation at The Third Space group exhibition at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre as part of Tirgan Festival of Iranian Art and Culture. TOP
Chronicle of Abandoned Dreams is a sound project, consisting of field recordings and interviews with diverse people conducted during my stay in Bulgaria. It is presented as an online archive and is the basis of documentary remixes and soundscapes. The project starts from the notion of abandonment, a core theme in 2011 Goat Milk Festival in Bela Rechka, Bulgaria, where it was launched. The project was first exhibited as work-in-progress as an interactive sound sculpture in August 2012 at New Adventures in Sound Art.
The interviews explore personal and social narratives of abandoning, renouncing, departing from “dreams,” the ideals once aspired to and held dear. They document how we change our identity, our ways of understanding ourselves and our world, once we have to accept the impossibility of an ideal, or come face to face with it turning into or leading to something other than what we had hoped for. Bulgarians, have directly experienced this form of abandonment: Social ideals of one era and their attendant structures were left behind within a few years and new ideals have not proven in reality to be what they were in their collective dreams. Therefore, Bulgarians, like people in other formerly socialist countries, have been pushed to rethink their history and reconstruct their national and personal identities.
The project has a wider scope, however. Everybody has a story to tell about dreams that were deserted, by choice, as part of the growing process, or by force. Whether the abandoned dream is individual or social and its narrative personal or political, the retelling chronicles the passage of time and simultaneously becomes the means to remembering and reclaiming the dream. Chronicle of Abandoned Dreams is therefore a gesture toward re-inhabiting the ideals by remembering the abandonment, both for the narrators and the listeners. TOP
Utopias In-Progress is a meta-work exploring the relationship between art and politics and art and its public. The work is based on an essay with the same title which was rejected by the publication that commissioned it. The piece was performed and recorded on site at the Red House on May 15 and 16, 2011. TOP
Originally a netart project created in 2003, this piece involves 8 female performers wearing tshirts exhibiting image and text collages and whispering personally significant texts so that the audience would have to get really close to them to hear it. Images are from an archive of original and appropriated media, including images from the war in Iraq, direct scans of the artist’s own body and internet pornography. The performance was workshoped first with volunteer participants from a Sofia theatre school. It was staged on 17 May 2011 at the Red House Centre for Culture and Debate in Sofia, Bulgaria. TOP
This DDoS action was mounted between June 18 and 22, a few days after the start of the mass demonstrations in Iran in protest against the results of the presidential elections. Over its duration, 763-886/day distinct IPs from 14 countries participated in this electronic solidarity action. With Sirens of Solidarity. Code courtesy of Electronic Disturbance Theatre. TOP
This project was in alignment with the 2008-09 strike by CUPE 3903, the union representing Contract Faculty, Teaching and Graduate Assistants at York University. York Is Us (formerly at URL yorkisus.org) started as a direct intervention in the information war with the University and mobilized unconventional (in a union context) tactics that mixed network technologies and web 2.0 tools with more performative, theatrical strategies.
Cloning YorkU's electronic media, the project aimed to jam the news by releasing information that was false only insofar as it exaggerated the absurdity of the University's propaganda and exposed the power dynamics hidden behind academic meritocracy/hypocrisy. The project generated a spoof of YorkU website infused with satirical and worker-oriented content; a regular electronic newsletter XFile - named after York U's official YFile; a screening event; two reports on labour relations and income distribution at the university (note research tab on the website and XFile 9); a few electronic viruses that targeted entrenched anti-union elite professors and forced them to expose their real politics publicly (for example note XFiles 6 and 7).
York Is Us material were widely distributed through its website, various university listservs, on Facebook and in print on the picket lines. The project was a collaboration of a small collective of women strikers, all of them artists or cultural workers in addition to being academics, and drew on contributions by the larger union community. York Is Us was exhibited in JavaMuseum's NetArt Features in 2010. TOP
Ephemeral Monument was a performance and video installation drawing on the literature of resistance in Iran between the 1953 coup and the 1979 Revolution. It was created in response to the archives of the library of the Iranian Students Association of Northern California, active from 1964-1984. The performance took place and was recorded over 3 days on site at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as part of Theory of Survival, curated by Taraneh Hemami. TOP
La Nueva Vida archives 3 women's encounters with illness, the medical-industrial complex and dying. Documents include selections from Vida's available medical records following a diagnosis of cancer (2003-2004); Gita's private and public written communication from the time she was informed of her sister's illness to shortly past Vida's death (2004-2005); and Gita's selections of writing by Gamba Adisa (Audre Lorde) from her 1984 The Cancer Journals. The archives were compiled in 3 interconnected and thematically organized blogs during November and December 2007. Collected and performed as a ritual of remembrance, this project is an intimate reflection on the poetics and politics of illness, care-giving, dying and grief; and, inevitably, an interrogation in the dehumanizing practices of the medical-industrial complex. La Nueva Vida was exhibited at InterActive 07 in Merida, Mexico, and in Java Museum's a+b=ba? in 2007. TOP
This electronic solidarity action was launched on March 8 and was maintained until April 15, 2007, to bring attention to the arrest and imprisonment of a large number of women's rights activists in Iran. With the ad hoc collective Sirens of Solidarity, code courtesy of Electronic Disturbance Theatre. TOP
Staged between June 16 and 19, 2006, this was an electronic action in solidarity with Iranian women's movement and in support of the tens of people who wclear="all"ere detained on June 12, 2006 in Tehran, this was a protest sit-in on the website of the Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran. With the ad hoc collective Sirens of Solidarity, code courtesy of Electronic Disturbance Theatre. TOP
On one level, Acts of Being: Kazemi vs Libman was conceived as a 2-panel poster that documented email interventions by a large number of artists and cultural workers in a spontaneous and self-driven protest against the censorship by Robert Libman, mayor of Côte Saint-Luc, of a photo exhibit by Zahra Kazemi, the slain Iranian photographer, because of its critical reflections on Israel's war in Occupied Palestine. On another level, the project functioned as a site of mobilization, dialog and networking among the contributors. The publication was a collaboration under the umbrella of OpinionWare with designer Daniel Ellis. It was published in Fuse Magazine, Vol. 28 #4 (2005) and exhibited at Bethlehem International Center as part of Self Portrait; A Show for Bethlehem, in 2006 at Szczecin Officyna Art Space /Poland and at Casoria Contemporary Art Museum Naples/Italy, in 2007 at Museo Arte Contemporaneo, Santa Fe and MACRO - Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Rosario/Argentina. Curated by Agricola de Cologne. TOP
A project of Subversive Press and a collaboration with photographer Babak Salari and designer Daniel Ellis, this project was conceived as a series of posters based on Salari's photographs taken in Iraq in 2005. In Contact in Iraq was published in Fuse Magazine, Vol. 28 #1 (2005), and distributed online as free PDF. TOP
OpinionWare is an animating concept and a repository. Its founding and fundamental imperatives are to articulate and facilitate dissenting opinions and actions and to claim public spaces for such articulations. These concerns are ongoing and can lead to diverse forms of collaboration, target various topics and take shape in a variety of media presented in different physical and virtual spaces. The OpinionWare.net website is one such space.
OpinionWare is an outgrowth of earlier collaborative projects (2001-04) loosely titled OpinionWear, a series of interventions primarily staged in the context of public actions in Toronto against "War on Terror." OpinionWear collaborations resulted in a number of performances (as participatory street actions and staged public dialogues) and a variety of ephemera (t-shirts, headbands, buttons; posters, scrolls, banners, e-mails, stencils, graffiti, chalk drawings). Because of its copious and on-the-fly reactive nature and subversive character, most of the OpinionWear work remained undocumented, befitting its anonymous staging as part of the multitude. OpinionWare was initially conceptualized as an online archive of DIY wearable products that bear explicit political opinions on local and global topics. The change from "Wear" to "Ware" was to signal the opening up of this archive to other opinionated cultural products such as manifestos, position papers, rants, FAQs, public announcements, electronic banners, etc.
The first version of OpinionWare was launched as an experiment in August 2004 in the context of a summer residency at Digital Poetics and Politics Institute (affectionately nicknamed by me as "digipopo") at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada. This version also included a discussion forum (using open source software PHPBB) that aimed to facilitate and archive cross-border and cross-disciplinary dialogue on urgent geo-political and cultural issues. However, as yet another online discussion forum without a fixed, invested and/or captive participating group, this forum never really generated much attention, interest or contribution by the broad and diffused community it aimed to attract. (A similar fate befell the Discordia project - http://discordia.us - a "peer-moderated" weblog presented as a "social experiment" in democracy by a group of U.S. artists and academics.)
This period of experimentation however opened a productive space for deep reflection on the shared and collaborative nature of all knowledge and the fundamental problems inherent in notions and forms of "intellectual property", ultimately leading to the writing of the experimental OpinionWare lisence, first published in Public, issue 31. TOP
This project found its reason d'etre in the photographs taken by then Montreal-based photographer Babak Salari during his 2002 trip to Afghanistan. Beyond its initial highly selective and limited instrumentality as a promotional vehicle for the commissioning medical NGO, Salari's archive proved to be of little interest and use to the North American mass media that filled their pages with propagandistic images and texts produced through embedded journalism.
When I joined the project as curator and writer, my goal was to avoid the pitfalls of decontextualized representation which would inevitably lead to re-inscription and re-framing as part of the hegemonic discourse of the time propagated by the Western states as well as many of the NGO apparati whose short-term goals and bureaucratic survival kept them from raising the key questions about the history and the realities of the war. Locating Afghanistan was therefore conceived - initially in collaboration with Carly Butler - as a multi-platform photo-text project. It was first exhibited as a series of 12-18 images accompanied by a short didactic panel, functioning as both a curatorial statement and a political contextualization and as an integral element of the exhibit. We presented the project in this format in two gallery venues and as a photo-text essay in the journal Refuge.
The encounter with one of the galleries in California well illustrated the accuracy of the curatorial/political analysis: While the gallery administrators were happy to show the photographs, they were very uncomfortable with the text and, in fact, went as far as attempting to re-write and heavily censor the text which they said was politically dangerous because it questioned the falsifications, silences and misrepresentations in the dominant narrative. This experience showed that while it was important to pursue exhibiting the project in art venues, it was absolutely necessary to bypass the limitations of such institutional spaces in order to maintain the project's artistic and political integrity. At this point the collective Subversive Press (Daniel Ellis, Gita Hashemi, Haleh Niazmand) came together to help in publishing the project independently in the form of an art-book (in print and electronic media). Thus, the exhibition and the publication could function singularly and/or together, providing more options for publicly presenting the project.
Having come about through highly collaborative processes, the book was animated by our desire to find an ideal horizontal relationship among the collaborators and to strike balance between content and form, art and design and text and image. Using techniques of collage (in layout) and montage (in sequencing of images), the book presents a narrative that is layered and far more complex and critically self-reflexive than the sensationalist narratives in the mass media. The publication was exhibited at InterActiva'05 in Merida, Mexico, among other places. The publication was distributed freely online as PDF and through several independent venues. In 2005 it won the Gold Prize in political category from American Ad Federation, Iowa Chapter. TOP
Subversive Press was established in 2004 in collaboration with artist Haleh Niazmand and designer Daniel Ellis as a collaborative platform for critical thinking through creation, publication and dissemination of independent arts-driven projects with a political twist. The project took its name after Gallery Subversive, artist Haleh Niazmand's independent gallery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Subversive Press collaborations resulted in the publication of Locating Afghanistan and In Contact in Iraq, both drawing on photography by Babak Salari. When life intervened and both Niazmand and Ellis had to pursue other directions, Subversive Press went dormant. In 2010 I am returning to the concept of an autonomous press with the project Illuminations. TOP
Post-Coitus: Sentences, a netart project, was an iteration of the larger project Strictly Personal which is an ongoing archiving of independently-produced, collected and appropriated media, including text, images, web pages, video and audio footage, e-mails and chat transcripts. In Post-Coitus, I draw parallels between colonialism and the Western/North American male erotic imaginary and between capitalism and heterosexism, with an understanding of colonialism-cum-capitalism as shape-shifting, dynamic phenomena that unfold in material planes and in planes of desire. Aiming to disrupt the normalizing gaze and to push the reader into a productive chasm where the relations and assumptions underlying the contemporary political dynamics are questioned, the work combines visuals, audio and text that remix appropriated material with original content, the latter including direct scans of my own body. Exhibited as part of InteractivA'03 at the Museum of Contemprary Art of Yucatan, Merida, Mexico in July 2003, and in Java Museum's 2004 I-Ocean, Netart from Asia and the Pacifics at New Media Art Festival Bangkok/Thailand, curated by Agricola de Cologne. TOP
Comprised of a website, a workshop, a video and participatory installation, Olive Fair rendered visible the material conditions and the strategies of survival and resistance in occupied Palestine. The workshop involved a facilitated discussion about the history of the occupation and concrete ways for mobilizing international solidarity while the participants were engaged in filling small jars and bags with olive products by Palestinian producers - obtained through Sindyanna, a fair-trade company based in Jaffa. The participants then collectively set up a gallery installation with these products alongside a video documentation of a direct action by the International Solidarity Movement in support of a group of Palestinian growers in the West Bank who were resisting the uprooting of their olive trees by Israeli soldiers and bulldozers. Olive Fair invited gallery visitors to take product samples in exchange for contributing personal responses to a website and a canvas book that was part of the installation. As the olive products in the gallery diminished, what remained in the physical space - transmitted through the ISM video - was the reality of the struggle in Palestine and the records of a networked consciousness arising through diverse forms of participation in the project. In collaboration with Negotiations Working Group. Exhibited in Will, June 19 ‚ July 19, 2003, at A Space Gallery, Toronto. TOP
Conceived as a public intervention and participatory performance, this project was mounted in collaboration with Women Against the Occupation on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the 1967 war. I designed the posters to be reproducible and wearable with minimal cost and labour, with attention paid to the singular poster content as well as their collective public display. A diverse group of activists were engaged in generating the text - which articulated the activist discourse and goals of its time - as well as in the production of the posters. On the day of the public event, a large number of activists wearing the posters lined up in front of the Israeli consulate in Toronto, thus putting their bodies, literally, behind the message. The posters were made available to others as PDF files distributed through Creative Response website. TOP
Part consciousness raising and mobilizing, part agitation, part performance, this project engaged a large public in front of the Israeli consulate in Toronto in the production of two scrolls on which people wrote messages to the Israeli government and citizens in solidarity with the Palestinian struggles and against Israel's war and occupation. Two women volunteers, one of them an Israeli citizen, attempted to deliver the scrolls to the consulate and meet with the Israeli Ambassador the next day. They were not allowed entry to the consulate but, upon the women's firm insistence, the staff agreed to accept the scrolls. The photographer who accompanied the women was not allowed to take pictures during the encounter. TOP
Aiming to engage and activate the usually passive gallery visitor, Many Stones for Palestine was a participatory installation with a domain of reach that broke outside the gallery walls. The installation was comprised of an old door (salvaged from uncollected garbage during Toronto's city workers strike) that was mounted horizontally like a table with rocks piled up on top of it. A poem was inscribed in Arabic on the wood, and in English on a glass panel that was installed in the door, and a box of markers was built into one corner. Gallery visitors were invited to write on the rocks and take them out to place in other public places. Over the duration of the exhibit, 300+ out of 430 rocks were taken out of the gallery and left in places as far as the counter in a convenient store in Halifax. Exhibited in Artists Against the Occupation, Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario, August 7 -September 7, 2002. TOP
Creative Response was an ad hoc group founded in late 2001 as a platform for artists' response to the events in Palestine-Israel following the Second Intifada. The initial group involved a large number of Toronto artists and activists animated by a smaller core group. The group's membership was ad hoc and changing, with only a few people remaining constant. I was a key animator. Creative Response staged a few public events and interventions in collaboration with other national and international artists. In 2003, a smaller group, Negotiations Working Group, formed to mount Negotiations: From a Piece of Land to a Land of Peace, the first large scale art-driven festival in Canada in solidarity with Palestinian struggles. Creative Response remained as an identity and umbrella for another 3 years and was mobilized in small-scale collaborations with Toronto-based activists in a number of contexts. TOP
A collaboration of the Post-Exile Collective - Gita Hashemi, Taraneh Hemami, Haleh Niazmand - the Word Room project was mounted in response to the events following September 11, 2001 as an immersive environment and participatory multimedia environment comprised of an exterior wall and an interior room. The exterior wall was covered with circular mirrors printed with words taken from recent speeches on the so-called "war on terror" by leading Western politicians. The wall was intensely lit, creating layers of reflection in its surrounding environment. The interior was a dimly lit black room housing 2 slide projections, a graffiti wall, a band of questions stenciled in red running on the lower one-third of the next two walls, and a blank wall where the audience can write. The room was filled with a soundscape (A War Primer) that live mixed previously recorded sounds with live feed through a microphone placed in the centre of the gallery. This installation was first mounted at Janalyn Hanson White Gallery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from November 12 to December 12, 2001. TOP
Programmed in Max/MSP, this live mix audio art is comprised of four layers of sound that draw from a large pre-existing database of audio files including selective words from webster.com, a young voice reading from a mid-19th century U.S. reading primer, news bites about the American war in Afghanistan recorded from Farsi-language radios, and a live feed from a microphone placed in gallery. When someone speaks in the microphone, their voice is recorded to the database and played back with a delay as part of the soundscape. Over time, as the feedback keeps building up through the live feed, the sound crescendoes and becomes eerie and eventually incomprehensible. A War Primer was exhibited as part of The Word Room in 2001, and, in 2002 it recieved the Toronto Community Foundation's award through InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre. Programmed by Don Sinclair. TOP
For the duration of its life, this collective functioned as a space for dialog and collaboration with diasporic Iranian artists Taraneh Hemami and Haleh Niazmand, both based in the U.S. Having worked together before in Beyond Boundaries (Berkeley, 2000) curated by Taraneh Hemami, and Trans/Planting (Toronto, 2001) curated by Gita Hashemi and Taraneh Hemami, we felt compelled to establish a collective identity and voice. Post-Exile was a platform for shifting the focus of diasporic Iranian art from Iran and issues related to exile and displacement to concerns of our present(ce) in our current locations. Such a platform was particularly necessitated by the events following September 11, 2001. Self-curating that could resist racialization and pigeon-holing of our work was another imperative that inspired the formation of the collective. Post-Exile's first intervention was the Word Room. Although we never actualized another exhibition that involved all of us, the collective remained for a period of time as a space for intense critical and creative exchange feeding individual work, a few conference presentations and future collaborations in different forms. TOP
CMP was an ad hoc grouping of members at InterAccess Electronic Media Art Centre in Toronto who shared an interest in netart. CMP held regular drop-in sessions where participants exchanged views and examples of netart, discussed work-in-progress, and developed technical skills and conceptual frameworks. TOP
Revisiting the 1979 Iranian Revolution, one of the most dramatic popular uprisings of the twentieth century and a landmark in my own life, Of Shifting Shadows (interactive CD-R), presents four characters’ journey in the non-linear terrains of memory and history through a hypermedia narrative based on personal interviews and historical archives. Widely received, highlighted and reviewed since its release in 2000, Of Shifting Shadows is constructed in 48 interactive segments, layered with video, audio, animated text and graphics, including original and reconstructed archival material in English and Farsi. The overall viewing time is between 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Like a book, this piece engages the audience in a deep and intimate individual encounter. The viewer interacts with the piece through the mouse. The interactive experience has a haptic character as the interface diminishes the dominance of technology to prioritize the content.
Of Shifting Shadows speaks to the fragmentary effects of traumatic social events on individual subjectivities and the agency of individuals in recreating their lives. Speaking of their experiences of the Revolution and their consequent life in exile, four fictional women – Bita, Mina, Goli and the Author – deliver a complex narrative that unfolds in parallel visual, spoken and written texts. At one level, the work revisits the 1979 Revolution to chronicle and reflect selectively on the expressions of a politicized public.
At another level, it renders a voice for the Revolution’s secular forces that were marginalized with the ascent of the Islamic Republic. It particularly highlights the struggles of women, whose voices were muted in the dominant patriarchal narration of the Revolution and who were the first demographic group targeted by the post-revolutionary state. The characters’s narration does not suffice with the past as their path inevitably passes through their exiled present. Juxtaposing the memory of the past/there with the experience of the present/here, they weave a multi-directional critical text that allows the complexity and shifting meanings of exilic existence to emerge as it avoids sensationalism that often accompanies such work. The interactive strategy places the viewer in the position of witness and accomplice and moves the work beyond abstract, disembodied and propagandistic pondering and, thus, constructs an intimate experience and a sense of responsibility.
Of Shifting Shadows’ beta version was exhibited at Beyond Boundaries at Worth Ryder Gallery (Berkeley, June 2000). It was launch at InterAccess (Toronto, Oct 2000), and, among other places, exhibited at Maid in Cyberspace (Montreal, Feb 2001) and Trans/Planting at A Space Gallery (Toronto, Jan-Feb 2001), was a highlight of the N-Space Art Exhibition at SIGGRAPH (Los Angeles, Aug 2001), and was subsequently included in their traveling exhibit with venues in China, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and Japan (2002-3), was included at InteractivA Biennial of New Art (Merida, June 2003), in the digital art retrospective exhibit Histoires a l’ere numerique, in Plug-in (Basel, 2009), in the Political Is Personal (Sofia, 2011), and most recently in Festival Electrochoc (France, 2012). The piece received the top award in the independent disk-based category at the 2001 Baddeck International New Media Festival. This piece is included in many national and international collections, and is distributed by VTape and Agence Topo. TOP
Shifting Shadow Solitude, I and II, were successive sketches in netart form for the later multimedia non-linear narrative, Of Shifting Shadows. TOP
A lyrical reflection on the nature of space in "virtual space" and on the functions of pure text in "hypertext", this piece is an intensely intimate yet paradoxically formal engagement with the medium. At the time that it was written, 14.4 and 28.8 modems were still the most common in homes and institutions where I had imagined cyber wanderers might read interactive non-linear poetry online. A key visual aspect of the piece is lost now because of the increased speed of data flow. In 1998, the thin blue that is embeded as a background image tiled slowly from the top to the bottom of the screen thus creating a visual transition between pages and marking the time of transmission. Although that formal effect and the concepts it gestures to are invisible now, HyperNomadic Textual Journeys was included in the online journal New River in 2007, almost a decade after it was made, as a testament to its time that is several generations in the past in the course of developments that leave us so little time to explore and ponder the aesthetic neuances and conceptual implications of "the medium." TOP
Exhibited in 1997 (WebWeavers, InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre), Steps to the Moon documented the efforts by two Iranian women, one in isolation in Iran and the other in exile in Canada, to rebuild their friendship using the internet - at the time recently available in Iran and solely through universities - as a space and vehicle for communication. Parallel to this, the sitemaker, also an Iranian woman, turned her gaze inward to document her own memories as they surfaced through working on the project. Combining the personal, the political and the poetic, Steps to the Moon is about two women, three collaborators and four presences in a hyperspace.
The project raised important questions about the politics of cyber technology as the barriers of language (predominantly English at the time), access (quite limited at the time even in the "first world"), and surveillance (endemic across the global networks) manifested themselves in the process. Primarily intended as a project to facilitate personal healing through the work of reconstructing and speaking of a difficult shared history, Steps to the Moon also highlighted the tensions between the private and the public, the personal and the political because of the opressive/repressive conditions that inform the shaping of these dichatomies in Iran and in the West. The project came to a halt when the collaborator in Iran, a university student, lost her internet priviledges. The friends, however, continued their dialogue through other means and, eventually, with the availability of internet access beyond university domains in Iran, established e-mail connection again. Also archived in Rhizome ArtBase, this piece is a snapshot of a short period in their life, and in the life of the internet, presented as a historical record. TOP
An interactive multi-media CD-ROM authored in Director, this piece is inspired by the artist's personal experience of exisle shared by many Iranians who were swept away by the wave of repression that followed the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Created around the central themes of displacement, allienation, absence and longing, this piece is as much an intimate expression as it is an abstract analysis of exile as a universal experience with diverse manifestations. This CD-ROM is available for Macintosh and PC platforms. It is distributed by VTape and was included in VTape's first catalogue of interactive digital media published in 1996. TOP
Before taking up digital media and self-publishing in 1995, I engaged in a range of art practices and creative production. I designed print graphics in Iran in 1982-84. I photographed real estate in Los Angeles in 1986-88. I painted commercial murals in Los Angeles, 1988-89. I had my first solo show of drawings and prints, titled Corporeal, at Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles in 1990. Before that and for the next few years I participated in a number of group shows in the U.S. and in Canada, as is customary. I also designed print graphics and worked in set and costume design for theatre, and received a Dora Mavor Moore nomination for the Modern Times Stage Company's 1994 production of Death of the King in Toronto. Some day, when I find the time, I may pull out of my archives some of the earlier work and digitalize them. TOP
last modified: 12 OCT 2016