Morehshin Allahyari, born and raised in Iran, moved to the United States in 2007, and that move spurred her to begin a virtual, and often critical, examination of her native land.
Allahyari says the work takes on questions of political and cultural contradictions, and as a citizen of Iran – and now resident of the United States – her take on the relationship of politics, people, and places focuses on “digital technologies, narrative, and social practice.”
“I am fascinated about these complex physical and virtual relationships with a place I once called ‘home,’” Allahyari says.
Her work has been shown at national and international exhibitions, festivals, and workshops in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North and South America and been featured in (among other publications) the Huffington Post, NPR, Parkett art magazine, Art Actuel magazine, BBC Persia, and Voice Of America Live.
Her latest projects, a series of 3D animations and 3D printing sculptures called In Mere Spaces All Things Are Side By Side and Dark Matter, are focused on access to the internet in developing countries and act as a challenge to cultural limitations.
Dark Matter is a series of scathing and critical sculptural objects which she models in Maya and 3D prints. Their often humorous juxtapositions highlight ideas forbidden or frowned upon by the current Iranian government. While she says the objects in the collection, while they often seem familiar to an American audience, would draw ire and possibly contravene Iranian laws . Allahyari says the simple act of owning objects or items like a dog, a dildo, a gun, a neck tie, or a satellite dish could result in dire consequences like fines, harassment, or even arrest.
“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,” she says. “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.”
Allahyari says her intent was to discover “conceptual and poetic ways to use the technology of 3D printing.” She says Dark Matter allows her to use the printer “as a tool for resistance; a tool for documentation of the lives we’ve lived as Iranians since the 1979 revolution.”
According to the artist, “there is something very beautiful about the possibility of 3D printing forbidden objects as an act of resistance.”
What do you think about Allahyari’s subversive 3D printed sculpture? Join the discussion in the Morehshin Allahyari Tweaks Iranian Government forum thread at 3DPB.com.