The LSU School of Art hosted Edge of Arabia's cross-country, cross-cultural US by Middle Eastern artists on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the first stop of the CULTURUNNERS road trip after its launch at the Rothko Chapel on the 21st September.
Ava Ansari begins with a screening of her video piece "Subway," an interactive artwork featuring video, a freely available Android app, and hundreds of still images collected from participants in Iran that collectively test the subversive possibilities of digital media. The collaboration for Subway began in 2011, after a screening of Ansari’s “Dancing by Myself in Public.” The video documents Ansari dancing along New York City’s Times Square subway platform—performing gestures and interactions that would be illegal in her native Iran. Through mobile media, the performance was shared with men and women in Iran, and the use of an Android app allowed participants to re-stage Ansari's original dance frame by frame in public spaces throughout Iran, as well as include their own poses. While dancing is forbidden in Iran, striking a still pose for a snapshot is possible. In that way the app subverts the boundaries of oppressive laws, pointing to their capriciousness and absurdity.
Ava Ansari is the co-founder of The Back Room, a curatorial and pedagogical project which facilitates exchanges between artists and scholars in Iran and the U.S. Recent curatorial projects include Fixed Unknowns, Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, 2014; I am Only a Reporter, Ardeshir Mohassess, Modern Section of Art Dubai, 2014; and A Call, a remote project with 80 performers between Tehran and New York. This project was conceptualized with Wafaa Bilal, and opened concurrently at Arran Gallery in Tehran and White Box Art Space in New York in 2011. She has presented work at Dixon Place, La Mama, Eyebeam, the AC Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, among others. She has previously worked at Aperture Foundation, New York; Shirin Gallery, New York; Basement Gallery, Dubai; and Silk Road Gallery, Tehran. She currently works at the Edge of Arabia, where she serves as an associate curator and the manager of the E.O.A. U.S. Tour. She got her B.A. in Public Relations and Journalism from Allameh Tabatabaei University in Tehran, and her M.A. in Art Politics from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
Sarah Abu Abdallah is an artist working primarily with video and film as a medium. She grew up in Qatif, Saudi Arabia and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Digital Media at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Her recent exhibitions Arab Contemporary in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, Migrating Forms in NYC, the Serpentine Galleries 89plus Marathon in London, the 11th Sharjah Biennial in 2013, and Rhizoma in the 55th Venice biennale 2013. She contributed to Arts and Culture in the Transformative Times festival by ArteEast, NYC, and the Moving Image panel on Video + Film in Palazzo Grassi, Venice.
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