After graduating from Otis, I packed four suitcases, two carry-ons and a computer bag full of art, and traveled to MOCA Tehran in 2007 to curate “Manifestation of Contemporary Arts in Iran.” The exhibition featured works from 67 Iranian and American artists, including Chair of Graduate Public Practice Suzanne Lacy, Masami Teraoka (’68 MFA), Co-founding Director of Artsts, Community and Teaching program Jerri Allyn, and honorary degree recipient Bill Viola. Former Prime Minister and reformist politician Mir Hossein Mosavi’s name appeared in the exhibition catalogue.
During the Green Revolution, I returned to Iran to curate a solo exhibition of Masami Teraoka’s watercolors. On August 5, 2009, my partner and I took a cab towards the gallery. Police presence mushroomed on Vanak Square as forces on foot, motorcycles, and vans lined the street. Suddenly I was pulled out of our cab while a man foaming from the mouth lunged his upper body into the moving taxi. Arrested, blindfolded and hooded, we were interrogated into the early hours of August 6. On August 7, I attended my first childhood friend’s funeral, where his mother grabbed my inner knee, pleading for her son. Speechless, I disconnected from all I knew. I didn’t leave my aunt’s home again until August 18, when I was assaulted by two men on a motorcycle. My cries were quickly silenced, as I was informed that it is unladylike to cry in public. My only remaining impulse was a need to articulate creatively.
On August 29, I opened Masami Teraoka’s solo exhibition. Everything I had to say about the taboo topics of globalization, Westernization, sanctions, fundamentalism, HIV, prostitution, and the trafficking of young girls as Iran’s biggest export could be found in Masami’s controversially bold paintings. Masami’s work embraced and visualized the aesthetics of the green movement in a complex subversive plateau just beneath the governing factions of the Islamic Republic’s radar of genocide and oppression. The paintings were done in the 1970s with traditional Japanese brushstrokes but they were perfect for the “Jumong”-obsessed Tehran of 2009. The 2009 uprising was inspired more by “Jumong” (an extremely popular South Korean soap opera) than by Mir Hossein Mousavi.
These days I find myself working on the two time zones of Tehran and Los Angeles. 10:00 am - 5:00 pm bears a plethora of emails, and an endless search for regular curating and writing gigs to support my many art and activism obsessions. 10:00 pm - 5:00 am is spent curating and organizing Rooftop Projections and Exhibits throughout Iran. Updates from family members and friends include: “Grandma was hit by a motorcyclist. Grandpa is losing his sight and memories. You shouldn’t come back to Iran this summer. Strangers are coming by the gallery and asking for you.” I continue shifting my consciousness towards collecting subversive literature and art for our Rooftop Exhibits.