SHE WHO SEES THE UNKNOWN: HUMA
June 1 – 24, 2017
First Thursday opening June 1, 6:00 to 8:00 pm (artist in attendance via video chat)
Morehshin Allahyari's first solo exhibition with Upfor, She Who Sees the Unknown: Huma, is the culmination of two years of research rooted in "re-figuring" dark goddesses, Jinn and monstrous female figures from Middle Eastern mythologies. Through poetic-speculative storytelling, 3D printed sculptures, video art and sharing of information culled from archives, Allahyari explores the causes and speculates on the effects of digital colonialism and other forms of contemporary oppression.
The figures in these works are from a mix of pre- and post-Islamic characters taken from various texts, myths and stories of Persian and Arabic origins, focusing on overlooked or misrepresented female mythological figures. Allahyari removes her chosen figures from their original contexts, using 3D printing and scanning to create sculptures and associated talismans. “Each of the figures in this series will have specific powers and spells attached to them, aimed at exposing and addressing contemporary imbalances of power and colonial history,” Allahyari explains. With the jinn figure Huma, for example, Allahyari interprets “fever” as the crisis of global warming. “Through these acts of re-figuring and re-appropriation and interruption, I want to suggest a positive potential of the ‘crisis’ of and by these humanist and non-humanist subjects.”
Allahyari made her research archive available to gallery visitors who wish to delve deeper, including a wealth of images from the manuscripts Ajā'ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā'ib al-mawjūdāt (Marvels of creatures and strange things existing) dating to the 13th century, and the late 14th century Kitab al-Bulhan (Book of Wonders).
Allahyari (b. 1985 in Tehran, Iran) achieved wide acclaim for her series, Material Speculation: ISIS, which explores 3D printing as a tool for cultural preservation and activism. Institutions and galleries throughout the United States and internationally have presented her work, including MARTa Herford and Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) in Germany; Centre Pompidou in Paris, France; Onassis Cultural Center in Athens, Greece; Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Sydney in Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal, Canada and many others. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York. More about the artist.