Amir H. Fallah
18th Street Arts Center | Main Gallery
Exhibition: January 12 – March 27, 2015
Reception: Saturday, February 21, 6-9pm
For his Artist Lab Residency beginning January 12, 2015 at 18th Street Arts Center, LA-based painter and installation artist Amir H. Fallah turns a lens on his own city. Perfect Strangers is an ongoing project that Fallah has used to explore identity, place, and the life of objects in cities around the world. At 18th Street, Fallah will collaborate with young residents of Santa Monica to create site-specific portraits through painting, installation, photography, and sound. Exploring ideas of portrait/anti-portrait, Fallah offers a vision of community described through the deliberate arrangement of sentimental ephemera, collected from subjects known and unknown, that embraces the nuances of the process by which we establish a sense of self.
In the Artist Lab, school children at area private and public schools will participate in Fallah’s project, creating group self-portraits focused on objects of significance to them, and collaborating to produce a portrait of their own imaginings of their future selves. Additionally, Fallah will work with students from nearby Santa Monica College to create an installation environment inside which painted and recorded portraits of his collaborators will be installed. These evolving installations at 18th Street will be complemented by a related body of work drawn from local estate sales, on view across town at Chinatown’s Charlie James Gallery in March 2015. This work completes the circle of life that Fallah represents in his project, resulting in portraits of identity constructed forensically on behalf of the deceased; contrasting with his portraits at 18th Street made collaboratively with youth to describe their lives as yet unknown.
Much like a historian or ethnographer, Fallah works with a diverse mix of local communities and groups to collect material evidence of their private and public lives and transform them into artworks. Portraits are composed using objects and textiles the subjects deem significant, to develop an exploration of the ways that identities are formed out of emotional associations with–and nostalgia for–specific products, objects, and places. Perfect Strangers re-interprets and gives new weight to everyday objects as active participants in the construction of self-identification. Fallah’s compositions, both fluid and fragmented, embrace the moments when things do not quite align, and gives the work a sense of honesty that reveals the complex factors of identity which cannot be expressed through a simple corporeal rendering. Inviting the community and its objects into the Artist Lab, Fallah articulates a sense of regional identity that is ambiguous, yet informed by the perspective of an international artist who calls the Los Angeles metro area home.
Amir H. Fallah’s Artist Lab Residency and Exhibition are made possible through the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.