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Shagha Ariannia

Two Americas Away

May 19 – August 2, 2013 / Atrium Gallery

Reception June 1, 2013, 7 – 9 pm

Through video, sound and installation, Shagha Ariannia‘s work insists that personal and political domains are inextricably linked. Her practice negotiates the physical and cultural gaps between her native Iran and her current home in the U.S., where she has lived for almost eleven years; a distance of space and timethat she measures with small, nuanced gestures. Drawing upon family experiences and the paradox of existing between political realms, Ariannia responds to questions of revolution, immigration, nationalism, and global power relationships from within the framework of the intimate, domestic sphere.

Using surveillance footage of an interior settingTwo Americas Away evokes an unsettling sense of waiting in a space absent of inhabitants and activity. By way of a security system installed in the home of the artist’s grandparents in Iran so that Ariannia’s mother may monitor and look after her own aging parents, we see an intimate, yet removed vantage point proclaiming a loving, yet ruptured means of participating in the lives and well-being of family members from afar. While intended as a means of caring for loved ones in Shahrood, Iran from Los Angeles, the piecealso comments on types of military watch systems monitoring distant subjects, such as Long Range Surveillance units, drones, and satellites, as well as invoking a sense of war-time waiting, as ongoing threats of military action against Iran from the US and Israel persist.

The sound piece Our Future is The Approaching Past employs audio from a family cassette tape recorded and re-recorded over from 1978 to 1993, which includes entries from different, real moments in time. Dubbed over a tape originally holding revolutionary songs, we hear the artist’s mother teaching her children the English language, and a young child singing a Farsi fable. The interlayering of a time capsule of political ideologies with the soft, encouraging voices of mother and child highlight the complexity of the artist’s past and her place in the present. The disjuncture of the audio echoes uprooted family narratives relative to historic events.

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