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Modern Nomad

Iran-based American artist Kristen Alvanson's work often deals with historical conjurings, mythologies, and the aesthetics of speculation. Her drawings, installations, locative media projects, and animations often finely tweak the everyday accoutrements of these subjects, ranging from iconographic imagery to talismans to what look like ancient documents. Her projects excavate the darkly magical sensation of cultural narratives shrouded in mystery by western oppression or negligence, and all of these influences and inquiries are woven into her newest work on textiles, women, and the Middle East. In a show at Tehran's Azad Gallery, entitled "nonad (of nines and nomads)," the artist will present fabricated artifacts, such as nine nomadic fabric chadors (Persian veils), nine drawings steeped in the visual tropes of traditional Islamic art, and an animation called ninefold, which use the folding of fabric as a metaphor in the exploration of the Middle Eastern occult's embrace of the number nine as "the number of unceasing collectivity--worlds created through the hidden bonds of spells and collective tides." The project is part of Alvanson's ongoing Cosmic Drapery Project, which explores "the enigma of the Middle East through its drapery," a history she says "includes clashes and secret dialogues between state and nomad art, their folk beliefs, textiles and modes of creativity." In a way, the artist's projects use newer media to recite narratives and traditions in which history begs for repetition. - Marisa Olson

Image Credit: Kristen Alvanson, Two nomadic fabric chadors - blue (2007) and pewter (2008)

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