Episode 23: Taraneh Hemami

Notes from Montalvo

(un)making

Episode 23: Taraneh Hemami

By Weston Teruya December 20, 2017

A series developed in collaboration with Lucas Artists Residency Program at Montalvo Arts Center.

Weston Teruya welcomes artists, arts administrators, and cultural workers of color to get real about their lives, practices, and careers. Each episode is an in-depth look into how art gets made, but more importantly how these folks are seeing to the system of art’s (UN)making.


This episode is part of the Notes from Montalvo series, developed in collaboration with Lucas Artist Residency Program at Montalvo Arts Center.

In this final episode of (un)making’s first season, I talk with Taraneh Hemami, a Bay Area-based interdisciplinary artist, curator, educator, and cultural organizer. Through her practice, Taraneh builds platforms for artists and activists—particularly with the Iranian American community—to gather, find ways to address past traumas, create work, and weave together a collective institutional memory. The anchorpoint for her work over the last decade has been Theory of Survival, a series of projects centered around the archive of the Iranian Student Association, an activist and cultural organization with global outposts throughout the diaspora that she has helped to research and compile for over a decade. Her artistic responses to the archive have included interpretations of political graphics and theoretical texts and Bulletin, an extensive research timeline printed as a community newspaper for distribution. Over the course of our conversation, we discuss a number of her projects, including manifestations of Theory of Survival like Bulletin and her exhibition, Resistance, which took place at the Luggage store in 2013; the history of the Iranian Student Association; and linking together different communities radical social movement histories.

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Taraneh Hemami works with materials of history, organizing archives of images, data and information, weaving complementary and contradictory narratives in objects, installations as well as experimental collective and collaborative curatorial projects. Hemami’s architectural sculptures become platforms for interaction and engagement, personal reflections, and public action. She explores themes of displacement, preservation, and representation in installations that intermingle with the architecture of the spaces they occupy, complicating their identity and altering their function. She has received awards from the Creative Capital, Creative Work Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation, and the California Council for the Humanities. Her works have been exhibited widely including at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, Victoria and Albert Museum, Boghossian Foundation, and at the Sharjah International Biennial.

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