Author:Morehshin Allahyari

Morehshin Allahyari - She Who Sees the Unknown

She Who Sees the Unknown (2017 – present)

SHE WHO SEES THE UNKNOWN is an in progress body of work on Digital Colonialism and re-Figuring as a Feminism and activism practice, using 3D scanners and 3D printers as my tools of investigation. Researching dark goddesses, monstrous, and djinn female figures of Middle-Eastern origin, I want to explore the symbolic meanings behind traditions and myths and speculate on the effects of colonialism and other forms of contemporary oppression. I devise a narrative through practices of magic and poetic-speculative storytelling, re-appropriation of traditional mythologies, collaging, meshing, 3D scanning/3D Printing, and archiving.


1- Archiving: researching and gathering an image and text archive of dark goddesses and female jinn and monstrous figure of the Middle-East origin, mostly from ancient mythical stories and resources (an archive that does not exist in any form). This archive will take the format of both a physical reading room, a book (in collaboration with an Archaeologist friend and Imam in Iran), as well as an online web based archive.

2- Production: creating a selection of 12 of these figures by re-appropriating and 3D modeling them from different ancient illustrations. Then 3D scanning the 3D printed models as a series of ritual ceremonial performances as well as video material for storytelling. I imagine the 3D printed sculptures to become an army of dark figures existing alongside a series of re-appropriated and mashed up talismans that I will source out from different Farsi and Arabic fawātih (فواتح) or “openers”, and other occult divinations.

3- Storytelling: writing a separate narrative about each figure in form of video essay/fiction that uses the initial superpower/abilities of the specific jinn, goddess, monstrous figure but connects it to some form of contemporary oppression and colonialism.

4- Ha’m-Neshini (Sitting Together) + Fabulation Stations: a series of intimate public performances, events and discussions in relationship to my research in collaboration with artists, scientists, and activist women from the Middle-East.


Ya’jooj Ma’jooj

According to the Qur’an, the people of Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj spread great mischief on earth and represent chaos, so Allah gave Zulqarnain the power to build an iron wall to detain them, separating them from humans. In the prophecy, the Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj present a looming threat – that one day the wall will crumble and their release will precede ‘the end of the days’.

Finding myself literally “walled out” of the United States during Donald Trump’s first attempt at the Muslim travel ban, this story has a particular pertinence for me.

The resulting video, She Who Sees The Unknown: Ya’jooj Ma’jooj, 2017, imagines that Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj have broken down the wall and become one with the world, only to be pushed back and emerge again in an eternal repeating battle where they and the people who want them out of the city, become one; all representing the same kind of chaos and broken-ness.

For password to view She Who Sees The Unknown: Ya’jooj Ma’jooj, please email


Huma is a jinn known in various Middle-Eastern tales and myths who “brings heat to the human body and is responsible for the common fever.” The text for this video sits between fact and fiction as a way to re-appropriate her power (bringing heat) to the contemporary horror of our time; in this case global warming but specifically the unjust conversation around it which makes it a very Western centric and colonized dialogue. In his Apocalypse Now! Fear and Doomsday Pleasures essay (one resource I have been inspired by in writing this text) Swyngedouw describes the inequality of this Apocalypse as following:

“While the elites fear both economic and ecological collapse, the consequences and implications are highly uneven. The elite’s fears are indeed only matched by the actually existing socio-ecological and economic catastrophes many already live in. The apocalypse is combined and uneven. And it is within this reality that political choices have to be made and sides taken.”

Through poetic and metaphoric narrations She Who Sees The Unknown: Huma explores this injustice by connecting it to heat/high temperature, madness, hallucination and the ‘taking over’ of this colonized power.

For password to view She Who Sees The Unknown: Huma, please email


TRANSFER Gallery Exhibition

October 22nd, 2016 – January 7th , 2017 at TRANSFER Gallery

The Photographer’s Gallery

May 5th, 2017 at The Photographer’s Gallery

Upfor Gallery Exhibition

Image Courtesy of artist and Upfor gallery, Photos by Mario Gallucci.

June 1st – 24th, 2017 at Upfor Gallery

Eyebeam Research Residency Event: Refiguring

(four fabulation stations, storytelling sessions, and an intimate conversation with Morehshin Allahyari, Gelare Khoshgozaran, Nooshin Rostami, Ida Momennejad, and Maryam Darvishi)

May 27, 2017 At Eyebeam

Documentation by Supreet Mahanti

This event focused 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 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.

The 3D Additivist Cookbook (2016)

The 3D Additivist Cookbook, devised and edited by Morehshin Allahyari & Daniel Rourke, is a free compendium of imaginative, provocative works from over 100 world-leading artists, activists and theorists. The 3D Additivist Cookbook contains 3D .obj and .stl files, critical and fictional texts, templates, recipes, (im)practical designs and methodologies for living in this most contradictory of times.

In March 2015 Allahyari & Rourke released The 3D Additivist Manifesto, a call to push creative technologies to their absolute limits and beyond into the realm of the speculative, the provocative and the weird. The 3D Additivist Cookbook is composed of responses to that call, an extensive catalog of digital forms, material actions, and post-humanist methodologies and impressions.

#Additivism is a portmanteau of additive and activism: a movement concerned with critiquing ‘radical’ new technologies in fablabs, workshops, and classrooms; at social, ecological, and global scales. The 3D Additivist Cookbook questions whether it’s possible to change the world without also changing ourselves, and what the implications are of taking a position.


Morehshin Allahyari - Material Speculation - Gorgon

Material Speculation: ISIS (2015-2016)

Material Speculation is a digital fabrication and 3D printing project by Morehshin Allahyari that inspects Petropolitical and poetic relationships between 3D Printing, Plastic, Oil, Technocapitalism and Jihad.

“Material Speculation: ISIS” is a 3D modeling and 3D printing project focused on the reconstruction of 12 selected (original) artifacts (statues from the Roman period city of Hatra and Assyrian artifacts from Nineveh) that were destroyed by ISIS in 2015. “Material Speculation: ISIS” creates a practical and political possibility for artifact archival, while also proposing 3D printing technology as a tool both for resistance and documentation. It intends to use 3D printing as a process for repairing history and memory.

Material Speculation: ISIS, goes beyond metaphoric gestures and digital and material forms of the artifacts by including a flash drive and a memory card inside the body of each 3D printed object. Like time capsules, each object is sealed and kept for future civilizations. The information in these flash drives includes images, maps, pdf files, and videos gathered in the last months on the artifacts and sites that were destroyed. These materials were sourced by an intense research process involving contacting different archeologists, historians, and museum staff (from Mosul Museum to archeologists and historians in Iraq and Iran).

On February 26, 2016, Allahyari published one of her reconstructions from “Material Speculation: ISIS,” as well as a dossier of her research, as part of Rhizome’s series The Download.[15] Through this commission, her object file for King Uthal was made openly available to anyone for 3D printing.

She is currently working on finding a platform/museum for the release and the preservation of all the digital files and models from this project.

*Special thanks to Pamela Karimi, Christopher Jones, Negin Tabatabaei, Wathiq Al-Salihi, Lamia Al Gailani Werr for their help with research.

*Special Thanks to Shannon Walsh, Shane O’Shea, Sierra Dorschutz,Patrick Delory, Christian Pramuk, and Mariah Hettel for their help with 3D modeling.



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Dead Drops

The dead drops (2017) are an extension (though not formally a part) of Morehshin’s Material Speculation: ISIS series. The three heads in the series are reproductions of reliefs that were originally located at the ruins of Hatra, an ancient city in Iraq (image here) in South Ivan. Hatra was one of the ancient sites targeted by ISIS, and in 2015 a video was released of a fighter shooting these heads with an AK-47. These heads were above ground and visible in ancient times. They survived for thousands of years in the open air. Gertrude Bell photographed them in April 1911 before major excavations took place at Hatra. Each dead drop contains a USB drive, which the viewer can connect to in order to download Morehshin’s openly available research material (images, maps, pdf files, and videos) in addition to the 3D printable object file of the piece King Uthal, one of the reconstructions from her Material Speculation: Isis series.

The 3D Additivist Manifesto (2015)

In March 2015, we -Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rouke– released The 3D Additivist Manifesto: a call to push Additivist technologies to their absolute limits and beyond into the realm of the speculative, the provocative and the weird. We then opened up submissions to a radical ‘Cookbook’ of blueprints, designs, 3D print templates, and essays on the topics raised by our Manifesto.

The full text and bibliography can be read & downloaded from:

*The 3D Additivist Manifesto was created by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke, with sound design from Andrea Young.


The 3D printer is a profound metaphor for our times. A technology for channelling creative endeavour, through digital processes, into the layering of raw matter excavated from ancient geological eras. 3D fabrication can be thought of as the critical framework of #AdditivismAn electric mix of art project, online community, activism, ironic commentary, and revolutionary potential, #Additivism — a portmanteau of “additive” and “activism” aims to disrupt material, social, computational, and metaphysical realities through provocation, collaboration, and science fictional thinking.

The 3D Additivist Cookbook

In Summer 2016 we were artists in residence at Vilém Flusser Residency for Artistic Research in Berlin, an annual award through the transmediale festival for art and digital culture in Berlin. During the residency, we finished The 3D Additivist Cookbook, a publication unifying many of the strands of the project thus far, including essays, texts, artworks, and, of course, many 3D-printable files. 


Morehshin Allahyari - Panther Modern

Panther Modern (2015)

View Here:

A collaboration between Morehshin Allahyari and Andrew Blanton  for Panther Modern curated by LaTurbo Avedon.

Panther Modern is a file-based exhibition space, encouraging artists to create site-specific installations for the internet. Each project shown at Panther is given a unique structure in the format of a 3D model file, which built to engage the artist and their process of making. Given the variety of methods available to produce works in virtual space, the artist is able to choose the format in which they will share their installations. Completed rooms are added to the existing architecture, allowing the shape of Panther Modern to change with each project.

The Missing - Rebuilding the Past

The Missing: Rebuilding the Past

The Missing: Rebuilding the Past, curated by Erin Thompson and Thalia Vrachopoulos, The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice,  CUNY, Manhattan, NY, December 9, 2015-February 5, 2016.

The 3D Additivist Manifesto will be featured in White Screen, an online exhibition, curated by Caroline Delieutraz & Kévin Cadinot for Jeune Création exhibition at Thaddaeus Ropac gallery in Pantin, France, January 15th and 22nd.

#Additivism will be part of Transmediale, Berlin at Disnovation Research panelFebruary 4th.

Morehshin Allahyari - (2015) Pavillion for The Wrong New Digital Art Biennale

Curated by Morehshin Allahyari is a pavilion for internet and poetry, in its most undefined, yet to be defined, and in betweenness moment. It attempts to bring together the worlds of webart, sound, and writing; especially of those written, re-appropriated and translated as a collaboration between humans and machines. The artists in come from Iran, China, United States, and Europe. So the way they see and think about the confluence of these worlds, marks an exciting and complicated condition in which we as cultures and societies relate to and understand these relationships.

CALL.IO.PE is part of The Wrong- New Digital Art Biennale.

More information coming soon.