with Morehshin Allahyari (in collaboration with Gelare Khoshgozaran, Nooshin Rostami, Ida Momennejad, and Maryam Darvishi)

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“It matters which stories tell stories, which concepts think concepts. Mathematically, visually, and narratively, it matters which figures figure figures, which systems systematize systems.”
Donna Haraway

This event will focus on “re-figuring” and fabulation as an activist, feminist practice of reimagining the past in order to create multiple alternative worlds and futures.

For Re-figuring, Eyebeam Resident Morehshin Allahyari has invited four artists, activists, and scientists (Gelare Khoshgozaran, Nooshin Rostami, Ida Momennejad, and Maryam Darvishi) to create ‘Fabulation Stations’—spaces where they will perform poetic, mythical, and speculative stories that mesh past, present and future forms of colonialism. These stories are examples of oral storytelling that resist being written out as new grand narratives.

Re-figuring is part of Allahyari’s two-year in-progress research project (2016-2018), She Who Sees the Unknown, around exploring the causes and speculating on effects of digital colonialism and other forms of contemporary oppression. Researching dark goddesses, monstrous and Jinn female figures of Middle-Eastern origin, Allahyari’s project devises a narrative through magic and poetic-speculative storytelling, re-appropriation of traditional mythologies, and techniques such as collage, meshing, archiving, 3D scanning and 3D printing.

5:00-6:30 Fabulation Stations
6:45-8:00 Discussion and Shared Storytelling

Fabulation Stations Morehshin Allahyari: Ya’jooj Ma’jooj
Allahyari’s fables will revisit the myth of Ya’jooj Ma’jooj through an interactive performance that combines 3D scanning, rituals and storytelling/reading. According to Islamic tale, Ya’jooj Ma’jooj symbolized an impending threat for the world, a spreader of mischief that is forever detained behind a strong wall. In Eugene Thacker’s words “monster” derives from “monstrum,” (‘to show’ or ‘to warn’): “Monsters are always a matter of interpretation.” Through storytelling, Ya’jooj Ma’jooj, the people they threaten, and the wall which contains them can each switch roles—it is in this “becoming” that they define and redefine “the monstrous other”.

Gelare Khoshgozaran: DEAVANAH/دیـــــــــــــــوانـــه
DEAVANAH/دیـــــــــــــــوانـــه is a storytelling project that remembers an event that occurred in the past, in one language, as it unfolds in the present, in another. The two are only ever consolidated in the state of lunacy, while the deav (demon) in deavanah (lunatic) attests to the inalienable right of the alien to bestiality.

Ida Momennejad: Changing the past and imagining the future
“I believe that the past is malleable, as is the future.” ― Jorge Luis Borges, On Conjecture
“The traveler’s past changes according to the route he has followed” ―Italo Calvino, Invisible cities

How do memories shape the way we see the future? Can we change the past? Can the future disappear? How do trauma and experiences of extreme uncertainty and volatility change our past and future? How does sharing memories in conversations change what we remember? What structures of human communities lead to converging collective memories? What are the costs of otherness on memory? Under what network structures of social communication are marginalized narratives not forgotten? How can we reshape collective memories to be other-inclusive? Momennejad will present her work on these questions with experiments, neuroimaging, and computational modeling.

Nooshin Rostami: A space that is no place
A Space That is No Place is a re-enactment of a performance piece called Geometry of Exile, previously executed as a solo performance at Panoply Performance Laboratory in Brooklyn. Geometry of Exile is an embodiment of the artist’s journey as an immigrant exploring exile. In this iteration of the piece, the audience is encouraged to create their own narrative by activating ten plywood triangular sculptures into different arrangements of mountains, waves, and borders from one end of the room to another. The pieces are only allowed to move by being rolled on their sides, and can not overlap or stack on top of each other, creating a constantly changing puzzle of voids and shadows. Because one side is reflective and one side is black, this landscape of negative spaces shifts and unsettles constantly. The audience’s movements are constrained by being allowed to only walk and stand on the surface of the triangles; a series of Talismans within the space grounds the audience’s journey.

Maryam Darvishi:
Darvishi has redesigned the space of Eyebeam for the duration of Refiguring, to accommodate the fabulation stations. The layout of the studio together with the furnishings were chosen with an eye towards traditional spaces of Persian storytelling and orality.
Bios of Participants

Morehshin Allahyari is an artist, activist, educator, and occasional curator. She is the recipient of the leading global thinkers of 2016 award by Foreign Policy magazine. Morehshin was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States in 2007. She thinks about technology as a philosophical toolset to reflect on objects and as a poetic means to document our personal and collective lives struggles in the 21st century. Morehshin has been part of numerous exhibitions, festivals, and workshops around the world including Venice Biennale di Archittectura, Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, Tate Modern, Queens Museum, Pori Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Jeu de Paume, Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Museum für Angewandte Kunst. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Wired, National Public Radio, Parkett Art Magazine, Frieze, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Al Jazeera, among others.
Gelare Khoshgozaran گلاره خوشگذران is an interdisciplinary artist and writer working across the mediums of video, performance, installation and writing. Born and raised in Tehran and living in Los Angeles, she envisions the city as an imaginary space between asylum as “the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee” and the more dated meaning of the word, “an institution offering shelter and support to people who are mentally ill.” Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art, Museo Ex-Teresa Arte Actual, Malmö Konsthall, LACE, The LA Municipal Art Gallery, Southern Exposure, Human Resources, Interstate Projects and Thomas Erben Gallery, among others. Gelare was the recipient of the 2015 California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists, the 2016 Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, and the 2016 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award for Emerging Artists. Her writings have been published in the Brooklyn Rail, Parkett, Temporary Art Review, tripwire, Jadaliyya, The Enemy, Ajam Media Collective and Shangri La: Imagined Cities exhibition catalog amongst other publications. She is the co-founder and editor of
Ida Momennejad is a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton university. She received her PhD. in psychology from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain in Germany, did her undergraduate studies in computer science/software engineering in Tehran, and completed a graduate degree in History and Philosophy of Science at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She studies how humans use memory to plan and control their future. Her research is motivated by the idea that memory is not merely a repository for past experience, but also a tool for planning and bringing about future experience. She also studies the formation of collective memories, and how volatility in the structures of the environment changes the way the brain builds representations of the world and imagines the future. She uses neuroscience, behavioral experiments, and various methods of computational modeling to address these questions.
Nooshin Rostami is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. She was born in Shahroud, and raised in Tehran, Iran. Rostami received her MFA from Brooklyn College (CUNY) in 2011. She has widely exhibited and presented her work in solo and group settings in the United States, Iran, India, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Canada. Rostami’s work has been featured in number of publications such as Baumtestquarterly, Jadaliyya and Ajam Media Collective. Her research interests pertain to politics of geography, identity, and gender. In her work she embodies themes often inspired by personal narratives through mediums of performance, installation, drawing and painting. Rostami is currently an artist in residence at NARS Foundation In Brooklyn, NY.
Maryam Darvishi: Maryam Darvishi graduated from Long Island University with a Master’s in Human Resources Management, and has held several key managerial positions in engineering corporations and business firms. Besides, she has extensive experience in planning and organizing events such as cultural celebratory ceremonies and academic-social panel events both in the United States and her home country of Iran. She is interested in re-designing and re-appropriating spaces as practices of decolonization and activism.