Shoja Azari: FAKE: Idyllic Life
With Shoja Azari, Shiva Balaghi, Phong Bui,
Dan Geist + Shirin Neshat, moderated by Amy Kisch
Friday, December 13, 5:30-7:30pm
Leila Heller Gallery
FAKE: Idyllic Life features recent painting installations and video works
by Shoja Azari that seamlessly intertwine quotation with intervention in order to examine the integral roles that history and context play in depictions of the Islamic world. Within the works on view imagery ranging from 16th-century Persian miniatures and 19th-century Orientalist paintings, to Google and YouTube excerpts, serve as fodder for the artist’s multilayered critique about the myriad of misguided notions of exoticism and unbridled violence that continue to shape public opinion in the West about the Middle East.
Date/s + Time/s
Friday, 13 December
Viewing of exhibition: 5:30-6:30pm
Panel discussion: 6:30-7:30pm followed by Q+A
Please arrive between 5:30 and 6:20pm.
The talk will start promptly at 6:30pm and doors will close.
Leila Heller Gallery
568 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001
Seating is Limited, RSVP is Essential
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“Faced with an increasingly hostile world governed by identity politics, I approached this new series as a way to examine assigned and reassigned identities in relationship to power, by finding the proper visual and literary context as it relates to now and to the past. As roles and assignments shift, I wanted to ensure that a thread of visual continuity exists while also bringing new context and meaning within each historical epoch.”
Shoja Azari was born in Iran but left for New York in 1983. A filmmaker and multi-media artist, Azari deals mainly with the climate of contemporary Iran with acknowledgement to its history in regard to its politics, martyrs, public figures, and injustices. His work has been exhibited globally, with solo shows throughout Europe and North America. Azari has participated in exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, at museums such as the Haus der Kulturen, Germany and the MUSAC, Spain, and at art fairs including Art Basel, Switzerland, ARCO, Spain, and Art Dubai, UAE. His works are in the permanent collections of various museums and foundations, including the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), USA, and the Farjam Collection, UAE. Since 1997, he has collaborated with Shirin Neshat on film and video installations including Women Without Men, which won the Silver Lion for best director at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Azari has also collaborated with Shahram Karimi on video paintings, which project video on painted surfaces.
Shiva Balaghi is a cultural historian of the Middle East, who teaches Art History and History at Brown University as the Laya Khadjavi Visiting Professor of Iranian Studies. Balaghi is a contributing editor of Jadaliyya and a trustee of the American Institute of Iranian Studies. Her books include Saddam Hussein: A Biography (2005); Picturing Iran: Art, Society, and Revolution (co-edited, 2002); and Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East (Co-edited, 1994). Balaghi has published widely on Iranian visual culture and contemporary Islamic Art. She is currently completing a book on knowledge and power in Iran. Before coming to Brown, she was Associate Director of the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU for a decade. She has taught at the University of Vermont and the University of Michigan.
Phong Bui is an artist, writer, and independent curator (curatorial advisor at MoMA PS1 from 2007 to 2010). He is also the Co-Founder, Editor and Publisher of the monthly journal The Brooklyn Rail and the publishing press The Brooklyn Rail/ Black Square Editions, as well as the Host/Producer of Off the Rail on Art International Radio, a board member of The Brooklyn Rail, The Miami Rail, The Third Rail in Twin Cities, the Artists Advisory Committee of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, (AICA/USA) International Association of Art Critics United States Section, among others. Taught at Yale University, Skowhegan, Columbia University, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Texas , Austin, Bard College. Currently teaching at School of Visual Arts Graduate Program in Art Criticism & Writings, and MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department.
Dan Geist is managing editor and senior arts critic for the independent Tehran Bureau news organization, currently hosted online by the Guardian. He has written on cinema, television, theater, literature, visual art, architecture, popular music, and politics for Knight Ridder, Inter Press Service, and the Wall Street Journal, and edited books on artistic and cultural topics for Abrams, Counterpoint, Harper Design, NYU Press, Oxford University Press, Rizzoli, Routledge, Westview, and Workman.
Shirin Neshat is an Iranian visual artist who lives in New York City. Her artistic practice over the past decade has explored the themes of religion, violence, madness, and gender in contemporary Iran. Neshat’s provocative photographs, videos and multimedia installations have resonated with the curators of many major international art exhibitions, including the 1995 and 1999 Venice Biennale, and awarded its First International Prize in 1999. Her debut feature-length film Women Without Men (2009), completed in collaboration with Azari, garnered her a Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival. Neshat’s many other awards include the Grand Prix at the Gwangju Biennale (2000), the ZeroOne Award from the Universität der Künste Berlin (2003), and the Lillian Gish Prize in New York (2006).
Amy Kisch (Moderator) is the Founder and CEO of AKArt—an independent curatorial platform and art advisory agency working with arts organizations, institutions, art fairs, auction houses, corporations, publishers and collectors. With particular interest in art from the Middle East and Iran, Ms. Kisch served on the Advisory Board of ZOOM Contemporary Art Fair Miami as well as moderated and produced film and video art events focused on the cultural and personal displacement of memory and suspension of reality in the context of the diaspora, at locations including Momenta Art and during Art Basel Miami Beach. Ms. Kisch previously ran Sotheby’s Preferred VIP program worldwide for the auction house’s top clients—curating and producing VIP programming, including the Sotheby’s Preferred Museum Program, Art Fair Program and The Economist Lecture series She has also worked on winning consignments from the company’s major private, institutional, corporate and museum clients as well as serving as Executive Director and Corporate and Community Liaison for the Williamsburg Gallery Association and Director of SOHO20 Chelsea.
Leila Heller Gallery has gained widespread recognition for fostering the careers of emerging and mid-career contemporary artists working internationally across a multitude of disciplines and mediums though its cutting‐edge exhibitions and programs. Established in 1984 as a pioneer in promoting contemporary Middle Eastern artists, the gallery’s mission is to explore current developments taking place in Middle Eastern art within a larger cultural and art historical context. This specialization has positioned the gallery well within the burgeoning Iranian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern art markets. In addition, the gallery is also active in the American, European and Middle Eastern secondary art markets.
IMAGES - top to bottom: Shoja Azari, Hijlah or Unconsummated Love (The King of Black), 2013, Lenticular 3D depth on acrylic sheet, 30 x 41.5 in / 76.2 x 105.41 cm; Idyllic Life (video still), 2012, HD video, Special effects and sound design: Johnny Azari; Fanatics of Tangier or The Muslim Rage, 2013, Oil on canvas, 62 x 82 in / 157.5 x 208.2 cm; Banquette of Houries, (The King of Black), 2013, Lenticular 3D depth on acrylic sheet, 30 x 41.5 in / 76.2 105.41 cm.