Closing Talk: On a chilly October evening, the Goetemann Residency Program for 2018 came to an end with Azita Moradkhani’s talk. Ours has been just one of a series of back-to-back residencies for Azita, as she’s traveled this country getting to know us — and letting us get to know her. Her work is inspired by a visit to Victoria’s Secret when she was new to the US. Such things are really keep secret in her native Iran. Her grappling with the cultural differences has resulted in a body of work that melds the lacy with the newsworthy. A negligee is topped with a very masculine mustachioed face; a high-necked capelet bears an historic image of a nude “women who didn’t look comfortable.” Azita’s playing with paradoxes in her work that fuse into powerful statements that demand close inspection.
Opening Talk: Azita is a most engaging and thoughtful young artist. After a quick lesson in geography (Iran is not Iraq), pronunciation (it’s “ear-ran” not “eye-ran”) and language (they speak Farsi, not Arabic), Azita took us on a quick photographic tour of some of Iran’s great buildings, parks and natural wonders.
The impetus for her using women’s underwear to create her compelling drawings was her first trip into a Victoria’s Secret store. She’d seen nothing like it before, and it’s brazenness and sexuality affected her deeply. She’s turned that into delicate drawings with powerful messages. You have to get close to one of her drawings to get the full impact. A visit while she’s here is an opportunity to discuss her work and get to know her.
Azita Moradkhani was born in Tehran. There, she was exposed to Persian art and culture as well as Iranian politics, which increased her sensitivity to the dynamics of vulnerability and violence. She’s since turned that into her work and art-making process.
She received her BFA from Tehran University of Art in 2009, and both her MA in Art Education (2013) and MFA in drawing, painting and sculpture (2015) from Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts & Turfts University.
As Moradkhani writes, the female body, and its exposure to different social norms, is central to her work. Through her drawings and body castings, she is examining displacement as an unnuatural state we experience when we find ourselves insecure in our own body.
She uses an aesthetic of pleasure to attract the viewer’s attention. Yet, upon closer inspection, through the layers of colored pencil, past the details of lace and filigree, the disruptive iconography becomes apparent, narrating inherited histories of nation and belief.