Exhibited at WATER ماء / Trespassing Liquid Highways
Corcoran School for Arts and Design, Gallery 102, Washington, DC
Floating and sinking are sensations that are often difficult to differentiate. Surface Tension refers to the state that lies in the space in between — a dangerous suspension within uncertainty. Surface Tension is alive, pulsing with limited energy, experiencing a pull from all sides. The entry point into the nebulous liquid is elastic, close enough to touch. The faces that surround the scenario appear clear, yet the liquid holds only illusion at all angles when gazing from the outside. The luminous path is refracted in all directions, speaking many different languages. The light itself is a reaction: the result of forced power through a closed system. Thousands of volts hang peacefully at the mercy of a single line, safe only until the live wire touches the water. This destructive potential energy defines the chaotic experience in the aftermath of war and conflict. Despite the vulnerability as it hangs by a thread, Surface Tension offers comfort within an ocean of risk. We watch the vessel from dry land and try to determine if the water holds the form up or draws it deeper.
VisArts, Rockville, MD
Preventative Patrol, consists of two blue neon tubes that represent the unblinking blue lights on Metropolitan Police Department vehicles. Superimposed on the symbolic lights plays two hours of Axon police body camera footage from the J20 Protest in Washington, DC.
Former Police Chief Ramsey implemented the blue light law after meeting with the Israeli Defense Forces. They are officially an attempt to raise the visibility of the police in communities and deter “would-be criminals.” The lights remind innocent residents of a constant watch, inevitably in the presence of heavily armed police forces.
Transformer, Washington, DC
Catch the occasional salaam and Entering the room, indistinguishable combinations of saffron, Chanel No. 5 and black tea steep into the senses. Dole out the kisses to every cheek in the room. khoshgel. Never quite understood or understanding, never quite the same, the ethnic friend, the American grandchild.
We are our own Others. We are troubled by the simultaneously intimate and unfamiliar facets of our family histories. This identity is defined by its fluctuation and intensely unique individual experience.
We are inexplicably in love with traditions that lie under lenses of our families and our countries. Both of our motherlands float at odds with one another, separated by an ocean of fear and mistrust. Within this tension, we are both horrified and strengthened by the myths. Exotification and fetishization have shaped our lives, and the myths become as vivid and slippery as the goldfish on nowruz. Our adolescence is embedded in the joy and anxiety of language. Rich with symbols, smells, textures and tastes, our shared experiences are pure poetry. We all know the sensations of gracious apologies and tart affection.
- Text by Ani Bradberry & Rex Delafkaran
Washington Project for the Arts, DC
Loom is an architectural response to the limbo of feeling threatened within your home. A Persian rug from my house lies on the floor. Overhead floats a red neon rectangle of the same dimensions. I am Iranian-American, even if I feel as though this part of myself is still developing, and the piece is meant to encourage people who are not under threat to stand in the light and experience the paradox of comfort and discomfort those who are.
This piece is displayed in the exhibition "Now More Than Ever" at the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, DC.
Neon, soil, wood, transformer
1.5' x 2' x 2'
Sprouting from soil sourced around the exhibition space, Unit's neon orb floats between dreams and the resolutely material. Shaped by anxiety regarding the shifting climate of our planet, the sculpture probes contemporary coexistence between nature and industry. Illuminating its surroundings in light caused by electric current through argon gas, Unit imagines a new, symbiotic relationship between built and grown material through pulsating color and solemn elements.
Neon, rope, metal rings, silk tassels
Variable height x 1' x 1'
This work is from the Suspension Series: an ongoing project of hanging sculpture using metal rings, neon and silk that function as meditations on the beautiful precariousness of the formation of identity, particularly the female sense of self. The sculptures gently spins with the air flow of the gallery, illuminating the walls with ethereal red and blue neon light and causing ornate shadows and reflections from the metal rings. The effect is at once sensual and utilitarian: a futuristic visualization of our intimate self-understanding.
Until I Find The Righteous 1
Collaboration with Joseph Orzal
Exhibited at the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Washington DC
Responding to the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery's prompt to visually respond to the death of Prince, Bowie, Phife Dawg and other artists in the year 2016, this piece functions as a temporary public memorial. The sculptural neon zen garden offers a chance for peaceful contemplation as well as cathartic play and expression. It causes a meditative moment: blending feelings of emptiness from loss and bliss from remembrance.
Until I Find The Righteous 1 stands as an invitation for visitors to leave mementos and flowers in memory of lost artists and in honor of their legacies in a shared light. The sand within the top is also available for tactile experience.
The 8 (2016)
Neon, cedar, transformer
3.5' x 2.5' x 2.5'
CrossLines: A Culture Lab on Intersectionality
May 28th and 29th, 2016, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center curated a creative convening of art installations, performances and dialogues that explored the theme of intersectionality at the historic Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building in Washington, D.C.
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