“Screens Series: Gelare Khoshgozaran” continues the New Museum’s Screens Series, a platform for the presentation of new video works by emerging contemporary artists. In her videos, performances, and installations, artist and writer Gelare Khoshgozaran mines the effects of displacement and the unstable relationship between fact and fiction.
Gelare Khoshgozaran, Medina Wasl: Connecting Town, 2018. Video, sound, color; 31 min. Courtesy the artist
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Born in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war and currently living in Los Angeles, Khoshgozaran makes work that often speaks to the personal impact of exile and political asylum as well as the violence enacted through representations of the Middle East, such as those perpetuated alongside the “War on Terror.”
WHY (2010) comprises 255 screen capture images of Google’s auto-complete suggestions to follow the word “why” and the names of countries, which proceed in alphabetical order. This simple gesture, isolated on a white background, allows for profound reflection on prevalent societal biases. For mm/dd/yyyy (2015), another text-based piece, Khoshgozaran appropriates the bureaucratic language from application forms for asylum and permanent residency in the US to construct a new and darkly humorous narrative.
The video-collage Rial and tERROR (2011) creates an experimental portrait of the generation born and raised during the Iran-Iraq war following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Here, clips from pre-revolutionary Iranian television commercials for American products, pirated tapes of illegally distributed American music videos from the 1980s, and home video footage are interspersed, commenting on the experience of American popular culture presented as taboo. Such cultural disconnect is further considered in SPEECH (2013), a split-screen video in which Khoshgozaran (on the upper half) reads a text and each time she is thought to have mispronounced a word, her friend (the lower half) instructs her to repeat it until it is properly articulated. In An Analogue Poem (2016), Khoshgozaran reads a poem that speaks to her experience as a refugee and the abstraction of information that occurs in remote exchange.
Her latest film Medina Wasl: Connecting Town (2018) was shot at various sites in the California desert that resemble Middle Eastern towns, including those designed specifically to mirror the Middle East for US military training. One of these mock villages, Medina Wasl, located at Fort Irwin National Military Training Center in California’s Mojave Desert, has become a tourist destination where the public can visit and witness troops engaging in simulated battles. Video footage of these sites is accompanied by audio recordings of interviews Khoshgozaran conducted with US war veterans about their memories of the landscape in the various Middle Eastern locations where they were stationed. As with Khoshgozaran’s earlier works, Medina Wasl: Connecting Town meditates on precarious and problematic relationships between speculation, representation, memory, and trauma.
Gelare Khoshgozaran was born in 1986 in Tehran, Iran, and lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions and performances include Articule, Montreal (2018); Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) (2017); Human Resources, Los Angeles (2016); Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (2016); and Queens Museum, New York (2016). Her works have been included in group exhibitions including the 2018 Hammer Museum Biennial “Made in LA”; LAXART, Los Angeles (2017); Pori Art Museum, Finland (2015); and Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta (2013). Khoshgozaran is also a cofounding editor of the Contemporary, an online arts publication that supports an archive of queer and women artists of color. She has received an Art Matters Award (2017), a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant (2016), The Andy Warhol Foundation Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant (2015), and a California Community Fellowship for Visual Arts, Emerging Artist Fellowship (2015).