Morehshin Allahyari: She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake

Morehshin Allahyari: She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake

Upfor Gallery

Morehshin Allahyari, The Laughing Snake (detail), 2018. Screen capture of hypertext narrative hosted on artport exhibition portal. Courtesy the artist and Upfor Gallery.

September 24, 2018
Morehshin Allahyari
She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake
September 1–October 28, 2018

Artist Morehshin Allahyari’s latest work, a hypertext narrative, has debuted on the Whitney Museum’s artport. Titled She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake, Allahyari’s work repurposes a fable from Ottoman and Arab/Iranian texts to address contemporary themes of patriarchy and religious oppression. The work’s narrative is non-linear, allowing viewers to click forward and back through passages that range in tone from poetic to autobiographical.

About the work, Allahyari says “The power of this work [is] to remind women, femmes, the people of the Middle East that our figures and our stories, fictional and actual, matter—not just for the present but for claiming an alternative future that is not exclusively white or western.”

The viewer’s experience begins with the artist’s narrated introduction against the backdrop of sound and ambiguous, sensuous animation. Subsequently the viewer encounters a series of texts overlaid on varying visual representations of the monstrous figure of the laughing snake. Elements of each text are hyperlinked; the reader’s choice leads to different narrative paths. In the best traditions of hypertext-based net art, The Laughing Snake offers readers both freedom and a narrative structure that affirms the artist’s research and moral concerns.

The Laughing Snake was commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art, Liverpool Biennial, and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) for Liverpool Biennial 2018. In addition to artport, the work is on view at Liverpool Biennial through October 28. Allahyari’s collaborators include Emily Martinez (3D scene design and web development), Tonia Beglari (web development) and Andrea Young (sound design).

Morehshin Allahyari (b. 1985 in Tehran, Iran) is an artist, activist, and educator who uses technology as a philosophical toolset to reflect on objects and as a poetic means to document personal and collective life struggles of our moment. Allahyari’s work has been part of numerous exhibitions, festivals, and workshops including Centre Pompidou in Paris, MCA Montreal, Pori Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Museo Ex-Teresa Arte Actual, Museum für Angewandte Kunst, and Material Mexico City. She has been an artist in residence at BANFF Centre, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center and Pioneer Works. She was named a Leading Global Thinker by Foreign Policy in 2016 and a “must-see” artist at the 2018 Armory Show by The New York Times. Allahyari received her MFA at the University of North Texas, MA at University of Denver and her BA at the University of Tehran, Iran.

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Upfor Gallery
September 24, 2018

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