Morehshin Allahyari

Rapid Response Fellow 2020 - 2020

Morehshin Allahyari is a media artist and activist who uses computer modeling, 3D scanning, and digital fabrication techniques to explore the intersection of art and activism. Inspired by concepts of collective archiving and cultural contradiction, Allahyari’s 3D-printed sculptures and videos challenge social and gender norms. She wants her work to respond to, resist, and criticize the current political and cultural situation that is experienced on a daily basis. Her work has been part of numerous exhibitions, festivals, and workshops at venues throughout the world, including the New Museum, MoMa, Centre Pompidou, Venice Biennale di Archittectura, and Museum für Angewandte Kunst among many others.

What do you plan to do during Phase 1 of Rapid Response?

Since 2016 I’ve been working on a long-term project called She Who Sees The Unknown in which I research, find, and re-contextualize stories of monstrous figures and Jinn of Persian and Arabic origin. I’ve used these female/queer figures and their stories as means to explore catastrophes of colonialism, patriarchism, and environmental degradation in relationship to the Middle East. As the final step of this project, I want to release an archive that I have gathered in the last 4 years using the web as my platform. The archive itself will include over one hundred pdf files, scanned books, and images of monstrous female/queer figures, talismans, and related historical material, with focus on Islamic era. This will be the first time that such archive is organized and digitalized but also my focus on female/queer figures, make this project rare and unique. To release this archive, I plan to build a website (working with artist and web designer/developer Emily Martinez) that focuses on a series of methodologies for both conceptually questioning and practically challenging the ideas of open source, shared knowledge, and global access.

How does your work relate to the theme of the open call?

Showing the possibilities of technological criticality in building open source archives with the consideration of Digital Colonialism and critical thinking of access to knowledge in the midst of a long history of colonial and western domination of knowledge and resources. This collection of books and material for the archive, showcase figures that are away and different from Western figures of the zombie, the freak, or (in the context of feminist movements) the witch or the cyborg. In these ficto-feminist modes of storytelling these female/queer figures offer a new portals to alternative form of figuraions and imaginations.

What does the future look like to you?

Everything feels really blurry and uncertain right now and that makes the future possible in all directions and impossible at once.

What is your grounding ethos?

Micro Actions for Macro Influences.