Elham Masoudi is an Iranian artist who received her BFA from Alzahra University in Tehran, Iran in 2012. She has recently moved to the US and currently is studying in the MFA program at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. In May 2016 she was a resident artist at the Vermont Studio Center and Hambidge Center. Her work will be showcased at a biennial exhibition at the Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. Her works displays two different realities of the society; the manipulated reality of Iran and the reality that represents dynamics of young Iranians’ life.
16 found footages, 16 places, 16 hours, 16 hours per days, 16 hours living per day.
Interviewed by Jillian Jantosciak
Q: You were initially inspired to create colorful, pixelated figures when viewing an image from the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, of a female volleyball player clad in a bathing suit. Why did this particular image speak to you?
A: When you live in Iran, as I did, one becomes accustomed to seeing pictures of blurred and pixelated women if they are lacking the proper hijab. After living in the United States for two years without this censorship, however, seeing a blurred image of a female volleyball player grabbed my attention, and the picture of this censored female player became a new sort of identity to me.
Q: Much of your work references Iran and its cultural heritage. Were you inspired by any particular works of Persian art? Do miniature Persian paintings play a role in your current works?
A: I am mostly fascinated with Persian calligraphy. In the majority of my works, I have adapted my basic painting structure from the traditional art of Persian miniature paintings. Often in my work, moreover, there will be a nebulous form created from a repetition of a particular Persian word.
Q: Could you please describe the current divide in Iran between the younger female generation and the older generation? How do you explore this through your art?
A: The main theme in my artwork is to illustrate and compare the youth of yesterday who experienced the Islamic Revolution and the youth of today who now live in the post-revolution era. It seems obvious that the Iranian Revolution affected many communities’ behavior and attitude; and as a result of this, people are now becoming more assertive and fearless… I like to capture these moments in my artwork.
Q: How do you incorporate both modern and traditional customs of Iranian culture in your works?
A: In my painting there are two elements – one from the past and the other from the present. For me, mosques represent the past, and the pixelated figures and brightly colored walls represent modern customs.
Q: Describe the juxtaposition between the black and white Persian drawings and the colorful women in your paintings.
A: I believe that many Iranian artworks often disregard large groups of Iranian women. In my works, I criticize this censorship of women – of their images, their voices, their aspirations – by contrasting black and white shadows, colors that traditionally are designated for Iranian women, with colorful and pixelated figures. This contrast provides the viewer with two distinctly different images, merged together.
Q: How do shadows play a role in your painting?
A: Shadows primarily represent the hijab in my works. I believe that traditions, regardless of how outdated they may be, have everlasting impacts on Iranian men and women. The shadows reveal these old traditions, ones that continue to be a part of a young and modern Iranian woman’s identity.
Jillian Jantosciak received her BA in Spanish from Mercer University. She is the Business Manager for the Anthropology Department at GSU and is a 2nd-year MA Art History candidate.