Iran Tag

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.

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.

APPART Project (2015)

AP<P>ART Project Dates (IRAN- In conjunction with Limited Access Festival),

Curated by Morehshin Allahyari and Myriam Vanneschi:

Exhibition in Shiraz: December 12-17 —–> Dar al Hokoomeh at shiraz Artist’s Gallery

Panel in Shiraz: December 14 —–> Dar al Hokoomeh at shiraz Artist’s Gallery

Exhibition and Workshop in Tehran: December 19-24 —–> Darbast Platform

A prominent dialogue in computation within the last decade has been the mobile platform. Artists have been re-purposing software and apps to create a critical visual language that didn’t exist before. The use of apps in different cultural contexts and with access to certain technologies creates a technological aesthetic that is glocal (local + global). In the predominantly ‘Western’ industry of mobile apps and phone development, the technological and cultural adoption of these technologies are re-defined and mutated by different regions around the world. The AP<P>ART project reflects on these ideas and the interplay of mobile apps and visual language within cultural, social, and economic boundaries of regions; exploring how artists from different parts of the world use phone apps to push the possibilities and limitations of art and technology.

The AP<P>ART project includes two exhibitions and a series of panels and workshops in Tehran and Shiraz to establish a rarely attentive conversation among the artists in global north and Iran. Thinking about both the digital gap and continuity of technology and how users and eventually artists approach and shape the social and cultural aspects of tech, geopolitics and aesthetics.

Participating Artists: Morehshin Allahyari, Anthony Antonellis, Amirali Ghasemi, Mohsen Hazrati, Anahita Hekmat, Claudia Maté, Kimmo Modig, Mani Nilchiani, Eva Papamargariti, Yoshi Sodeoka, Angela Washko.

Workshop by: Anthony Antonellis and Pussykrew

Morehshin Allahyari - #AsYouScrollDown

#AsYouScrollDown (2014)

Morehshin Allahyari’s record store, #AsYouScrollDown is a digital and analogue archive; 100 tweets and series of images are gathered to re-visit the 2009-2010 protests in Iran known as the Green Movement. The audience is invited to move through the store and experience a audio/visual representation of these protests. #AsYouScrollDown is an attempt to scroll down and though; to look back at our dreams and nightmares; to recall and remember.

#AsYouScrollDown, Theory of Survival, Southern Exposure Gallery, 2014.

*commissioned by Southern Exposure gallery for the “Theory of Survival: Fabrications” exhibition curated by Taraneh Hemmami.

View the Exhibition Website
Morehshin Allahyari - Bitrates

بیت بر ثانیه – Bitrates (2014)

Bitrates is the first New Media Art exhibition in the city of Shiraz in Iran, curated and organized by artists Morehshin Allahyari and Mani Nilchiani, hosted by Dar-ol-Hokoomeh Project at Shiraz Artist House. With a vision to create a space dedicated to emerging artistic practices, workshops, talks, presentations and exhibitions, Dar-ol-Hokoomeh Project (co-founded by Mohsen Hazrati and Milad Forouzandeh) seeks to expose the creative community and general public to the potentials of new technologies and New Media theory and practice.

In their curation process, Morehshin and Mani have selected artists that each use variety of digital tools, material, and software in their works to present a specific category and technological aesthetics of new media art; from artgame, creative coding, experimental 3D animation to glitch art and animated GIF. The significance of the term “Bit Rate” is two fold: On the one hand, every digital art work at one point or the other needs to navigate the bottleneck of “bits”. Ideas turn into bits, bits are streamed over a network, to a screen, or to a tangible output such as a 3D printer to form an experience. While simultaneously, as a generation who sought their exposure to the world outside through slow, clunky dial-up modems, our interaction with the world at large was at the mercy of “bit rate”. بیت بر ثانیه (Bitrates) draws attention to these ideas through the presentation of the work that engages and explores technology and internet as a medium.

Featuring: Morehshin Allahyari, Benjamin Bacon, Andrew Blanton, Alex Myers, Brenna Murphy, Ramsey Nasser, Mani Nilchiani, Daniel Rourke, Alfredo Salzar-Caro, Angela Washko.

A lecture and a Q & A session will be held with Morehshin Allahyari and Mani Nilchiani at Daralhokoomeh on Sunday May 25th, 6:30 PM.


***GIFbites is one of the projects of Bitrates exhibition (curated by Daniel Rourke). For the opening of Bitrates, a selected version of this project was displayed in the gallery, followed by a complete showcase of all the GIFs for the GIFbites exhibition, May 30th-June 6.

Morehshin Allahyari - Like Pearls

Like Pearls (2014)

Like Pearls is a web-based project, created by using mash-up of images and GIFs collected from Allahyari’s Farsi email spam for online underwear stores based in Iran. Per Iran’s Islamic law, the bodies of the underwear models are whited out, erased or covered with a pattern, creating a surreal image of sensuality and censorship.

The addition of sparkly, gaudy GIFs with a digital version of “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys in the background add the surrealness of the images. When the viewer clicks on various GIFs, a pop-up window appears with a passive-aggressive line of text that supposedly indicates romance or love, though in a slightly menacing manner (“I want you to be mine forever,” or “Let her wear your love”).

Through the use of cliche images of love and romance, and the contradictory nature of underwear advertisements for an Islamic culture, Like Pearls examines how the kitsch aesthetics of spam and advertisement on the Iranian web is a complex phenomena, involving layers of cultural and religious censorship and oppression toward women and romance.


Visit the Project Website

Installation Shots

Morehshin Allahyari - Dark Matter Series I - #dog #dildo #satellite-dish

Dark Matter (First Series – 2014)

Dark Matter is a series of combined, sculptural objects modeled in Maya and 3D printed to form humorous juxtapositions.; The objects chosen for the first series are the objects/things that are banned or un-welcome in Iran by the government. The objects that in many other countries people use or own freely but under Iranian government laws (for several reasons) are forbidden or discouraged to use. Owning some of these objects/things (dog, dildo, gun, neck tie, satellite dish, etc.) means going to jail, or getting a fine, or constantly being under the risk of getting arrested or bothered by the moral police. By printing and bringing the virtual 3D into physical existence, I want to simultaneously resist and bring awareness about the power that constantly threatens, discourages, and actively works against the ownership of these items in Iran. No matter how functional, through 3D printing, I am able to re-create and archive a collection of forbidden objects. In a way, the sculptural objects serve as a documentation of lives (my own life included) lived under oppressions and dictatorship. This is the documentation of a history full of red lines drawn in the most private aspect of one’s life.

What will happen when you re-contextualize the forbidden/banned/taboos? Could inserting the sculptures into another time and space change our relationship to these objects and challenge us to enter an historical dimension of the work? In other words, through positioning the tabooed I want to re-emphasize the dramatic and ironic aspect of forbidden; When looking back in twenty years, how would it feel to re-visit this collection?

Morehshin Allahyari - In The Realm of Rare and Analogous Accidents

In The Realm of Rare and Analogous Accidents (2013)

Found footage from Gholam Jandarm (1972) – Iran + Rio bravo (1959)- United States

Side by Side; Searching for a relationship that defines the states of belonging; The space in the middle. Questioning the power of the image… the image that guides us. The image that lies.

“Something is of course always lost when we get to see only one side. It is for the exact same reason that one must have the courage to confess the pain of the coma-like contrast of life and cinema. In this scenario, somehow we must put it all together to see the big picture; While in the state of unconsciousness, we are stuck at the thin edge of a screen where two worlds, two countries, and two cities separate for the sake of it. I feel helpless standing in the middle. In this chain of accidents, in this battle of guns and bombs, in the pile of my notes, thoughts, and nostalgic memories of Texas and Tehran, the world lacks trust in common sense.”

  • (From the text in the video).

Re: Apologies to the many wonderful Iranians (2012)

Standing behind the windows; Unable to reach or to pass through. The past and present meeting in one spot; Places and objects slowly fragmenting, deforming, fading in and out, coming together, splitting apart; Witnessing things falling through…The blurry memories of my childhood from war, fusing into the same feelings of numbness and helplessness where I stand today…

Re: Apologies to the Many Wonderful Iranians is an installation that explores and combines personal memories of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) with the constant awareness of life filled with drumbeats of war against Iran and the intensified sanctions targeting the lives of the Iranian people. It is a response to the recent unethical and proud reports and discussions that praise sanctions and wars on Iran to stop the Iranian government’s nuclear activities; Rejecting and ignoring the results of sanctions on the lives of the ordinary people and their suffering; Forgetting the mentally and emotionally exhausted citizens, floating between political wars. Legitimatizing mass slaughter that sanctions accompany. Keeping the invisible war invisible without filling-in the gaps.

*In Summer of 2012, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times went to Iran and within his return to the U.S. in one of his reports named Pinched and Griping in Iran (June 2012) wrote:

“…with apologies to the many wonderful Iranians who showered me with hospitality, I favor sanctions because I don’t see any other way to pressure the regime on the nuclear issue or ease its grip on power. My takeaway is that sanctions are working pretty well.”

Photos by Derek Rankins.

Morehshin Allahyari - The Recitation of A Soliloquy

The Recitation of A Soliloquy (2012)

In 2012, I found a paragraph from my mother’s diary which was written when she was pregnant with me, during Iran-Iraq war.  As a recitation of her diary, I’ve written every word 27 times on 27 frames of a 16mm film…. while projecting a Google Earth map of Iran on my face.

“Reading her Mother’s diary, one word-per-frame, under the lens of time accumulated since the time of it’s writing, and of her birth — the time of life. Virtual words, lifted off the page, wriggle like embryos under inquisitive gaze of an interlocutor to whom they are addressed, as if resisting to be born into the world in which war and cruelty are present.”

-Sandra Skurvida