Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Grocery Shopping for Yalda!

The price of pomegranate was as grotesque as our distance,
And the slaughtered watermelons had all the colors, but no happiness!

Somehow I found the fiery persimmons,
Placed in a distant corner next to the potatoes,
being ignored even by curious shoppers,

They were the outsiders,
And they belonged to my table!

Yalda Table, Chickpea Chateau, December 2010

To all of you who celebrate Yalda, the longest night of the year,
Happy Yalda!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"What in truth is the thing, so far as it is a thing? When we inquire in this way, our aim is to come to know the thing-being (thingness) of the thing. The point is to discover the thingly character of the thing. To this end we have to be acquainted with the sphere to which all those entities belong which we have long called by the name of the thing." (Heidegger, Martin, "The Origin of the Work of Art", 1935 Based on a Public Lecture, in Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell, section: Thing and Work p.146, )

Heidegger's Writing & the Thingness of Reading it
Austin, December 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010


I placed the mango in the refrigerator next to the pomegranate.
Thirsty to keep them fresh for another autumn morning;
A day that our breakfast will be as colorful as the season!

If I could keep certain colorful days in the refrigerator,
I often wonder,
Would it be the end of all gloomy days?
Would I feel light again, like when you hold me close in your arms?

Pink Roses, Mango & Pomegranate, December 2010, Austin

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Colloquium Happenings:
1- Two nights before, I wondered why I cannot finish reading four single-spaced pages in 10min. Well, 10min is about four double-spaced pages (duh!)
2- Tried too hard not to push my teeth together,
3- Made the slides.
4- Finished shortening the thing: omitted three paragraphs on Imitation and Primitivism.
5- Had a short phone conversation with a handsome rock climber.
6- Baked Baklava Cake.
7- Rehearsed my presentation couple of times and made some changes. Zeitoon took a nap during the last rehearsal.
8- Went to bed around 5am, got up at 8am.
9- Checked the news headlines on Iran.
9- Went to the department at 10am to meet a friend for another rehearsal. She didn’t show up.
10- Tried to reread an article on imitation and child art. Couldn’t, so I have started typing these.
11- Worried!

After Colloquium To Do List:
1- Call mom, text D., hug Zeitoon.
2- Clean the litter box.
3- Take a leisurely walk around the golf course.
4- Do the laundry.
5- Call friends for pre-Thanksgiving chat.
6- Live!

The Corner, TA study room, Art History Dept., November 2010

PS. My dissertation topic was approved; now I can officially start the process of becoming Dubuffet.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Crowd!

The sweaty sense of grilling!
Fabric in motion!
Fabricated emotion!
The scattered sense of exposure!

My corner is dominated by the crowd!

*Fire in the Evening, Paul Klee, 1929.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Nightingales traversing the Middle East

Our fall 2010 concert by the UT Middle Eastern Ensemble “Bereket” under the direction of Sonia Seeman celebrates the interregional intersections across the Middle East with instrumental works, songs and dances. Featuring vocal soloists Daryl Harris, Aynur Hodge, Nastaran Kherad, Julie Slim Nassif, Burcu Tan. Drum solos by Mohamed Elmasry, Nicholas Ragheb and Sean Mecredy. Dance performances by Stacey-Lizette of Sabaya; Happy Rahman, the UT-Austin Lebanese Social Club. Choral performances by the UT Arabic, Hebrew and Persian language classes. Sponsored by the Butler School of Music and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. To read more on this concert check the College of Fines Arts Calendar page, here.

Fall 2010 concert by the UT Middle Eastern Ensemble, “Bereket”
November 4, 2010 7:30 pm
Bates Auditorium
Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music
University of Texas, Austin

Free and open to the public

Saturday, October 30, 2010

SLSA 2010

Attending the 24th Annual Conference of the SLSA, Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. It is cold here in Indianapolis; besides the cold, the art panels are lively and crowded. I am presenting on Jean Dubuffet, Materialized Perception: Cubism of Material in Jean Dubuffet's Table Series in 1950s.

Clotted Table, Jean Dubuffet, 1951, Oil on Masonite

Friday, October 22, 2010

No matter what ...

The sense of belonging is lost!
The walk was shorter than I thought.
I was scared in that lightless narrow quiet street.
A vague autumn touch here and there, all manmade,
And nowhere near the trees, where I would have liked to see them; the leaves!

Some occasional walkers like me, but no sense of belonging or security, despite the fact that I have a social security number now.

Numbers are no good!

Seventeen houses on the side I walked on;
Two very large ones; I did not like them at first but then they were the only ones with a light pole on the front yard. I liked that; I was not scared anymore!
Many trees, I did not count how many.
Three other walkers; all were going the opposite direction. Or I was the only one going the way I was going!
Four bikers; three of them men.

I so much like to write numbers like numbers (17, 3, 4, … ) but I have been criticized for that. So here you are: Seventeen, Many (but of course finite), Three, Four and me.

This is not a poem.
It is not intended as one, not by me.
But I like to break the sentences here and there, as they come to me; not to my mind but to my body; that’s my lips and hands, as I read them out loud and type.
I type funny, someone said recently.

I had one glass of wine, thought of the wind, the sense of belonging, the color orange and how I will cope, no matter what ...

Mark Rothko, Yellow, Red, on Orange, 1954

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Haiku for Something Little!

Something little,
Something plain, unbroken and exact;
A little candid existence, like the dot at the end of this sentence, would be enough for me.

Kazimir Malevich, Black Circle (c.1923)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Not an Artist but a Man of the World!

"I ask you to understand the word artist in a very restricted sense, and man of the world in a very broad one. By the second I mean a man of the whole world, a man who understands the world and the mysterious and lawful reasons for all its uses; by the first, a specialist, a man wedded to his palette like the serf to the soil. [...] Apart from one or two exceptions whom I need not name, it must be admitted that the majority of artists are no more than highly skilled animals, pure artisans, village intellects, cottage brains. Their conversations, which is necessarily limited to the narrowest of circles, becomes very quickly unbearable to the man of the world, to the spiritual citizen of the universe." (Charles Baudelaire in the Painter of Modern Life, 1858-9 Translated by J. Mayne. pp.6-7)

In the memory of Hannibal Alkhas who passed away a few days ago at the age of 80 and whom I heard once saying, "I would never wait for 'Lady Inspiration'*to mysteriously come to me through an open window, the life around me is what I need the most." (Hannibal Alkhas in a family gathering in 2000, Tehran.) For more check here and here.

Hannibal Alkhas 80-Year Retrospective, Tehran,
Photo Credit, Tehranlive.org

*The word for artistic inspiration in Farsi is Elham, which is also a feminine name. Mr. Alkhas played with the duality of Elham and ironically hinted on the historical use of female models in arts.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Reason Rained!

The pain didn’t begin when the cinnamon jar broke,
The pain didn’t begin when the sky turned gray,
The pain didn’t begin when that first cold breath was gasped,

The pain began with reason,
Then it rained and robbed me of the cinnamon scent!

Vasily-Kandinsky, Blue (N393), 1927

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Now; Green!

I am in Houston, trying to look normal, despite the wild humidity that crazing my frizzy hair, tripling its size. I always walk with an out of proportion head in Houston.

Since Zambezi left us, Zeitoon has become more sensitive to my absence. So I am a bit worried to be far from him at the moment. His protective gaze and forceful head-kicks concerns me every time I am leaving the house.

School and Work:
Another semester will begin next week. It looks like it will be my most intense semester; I will be defending my dissertation topic. I am trying to set the dates of the colloquium for some time before the end of November. Also I am looking forward to my first TAship at UT. The art history survey courses at our department engage students equally in art-seeing and art-reading. TAs will held most of their sessions in local museums and galleries. Thinking of New York’s rich cultural resources, I wish we could do this in our survey courses at Brookly College.

The summer heat has not gone, yet, fall is closer. Three full years far from home! Home is Iran; home is my brother; home is an argument over dinner with my aunt; home is my mom’s soft hands over my hair.

It is painful to be far, to not be home, to only read about home; to read about the inhuman adventurous path of Iranian regime, to read about the possibility of war, to hear of the long sentences and harsh conditions of political prisoners. It is hard to be far; to see one’s home reduced to digital images and printed words.

Believing in progress is tricky and being progressive is not easy. We shan’t forget that in all its beauty being Green - Iranian Green - is painful. We shan’t forget this Green is not alone, it is many. We shan’t forget the rainbow behind the Green. We shan’t forget fall always passes to winter and spring is close. This is perhaps one of those rare moments that I can allow myself to find peace in the metaphor of changing seasons!

Green, Houston, August 2010,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lost In The Distance!

I wish I had told him,
the old Farsi teacher who was asking me how he can apply for Canad immigration and if they need Farsi teachers?

I wish I had told him then,
before the painful forms, before the long corridors, before the exhaustion of experience,
and before the cost of memory!

I wish I had told him,
Farsi is a lost cause here.

I wish I had told him,
my mother tongue is buried deep under, and I cannot even hold my breath long enough to swim over and fetch it, not even in my dreams.

I wish I had told him,
my dreams are closer to the language of Foucault these days,
and Hafez has shrunk to a book on the extended bookshelf.

And believe it or not Foucault is a nightmare when dreamed!

I wish I had told him,
about the bitter taste of lost scents;
the smells that never leave and are lost in lust,
the smells of places and people,
and the smell of the ruins of one’s childhood!

I wish I had told him,
apples are tasteless here,
and there are no chubby Lebanese sweet lemons in reach!

I wish I had told him,
His students will always have bad handwriting and
They always expect the highest grade.

I wish I had told him,
at the end he will be a distant father of a happily married Canadian son,
With lifelong bills to pay,
And a thick Middle Eastern accent,
Which from time to time will remind him that he does not belong!

I wish I had told him all these in Farsi,
Before he gets lost in this distance like me.

I gave him the names of the two immigration attorneys, translated his CV and paid his application fee with my American-Express!

The Distant Kitchen,
Chickpea Chateau, August 2010

*I wrote this piece originally for the Shape of Change, this is an online archival project , which I am collaborating with. Find the blog of the project here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Kitchen Is Quiet!

The Kitchen is quiet.
The kettle is not belly dancing.
The order is a lost sense, here!

The kitchen is quiet.
The light bulb has gone cold.
There is no glory in the forced harmony of the three little blue plates above the sink!

The kitchen is quiet.
The cardamom jar is scentless.
The walls have grown, since you left!

Chickpea Chateau, July 2010,

Friday, July 30, 2010

Balance, Purity, Serenity

"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which might be for every mental worker, be he businessman or writer, like an appeasing influence, like a mental soother, something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue." - Henri Matisse, Notes d'un Peintre, La Grande Revue, 1908.

Matisse As Printmaker will be on view until August 22nd at Blanton Museum. I highly recommend the show. Today I gave a gallery talk there for UT's Persian Student Society, PSS. We had a small lively group. On another matter yet art related, my latest Peyk article on "the Twentieth Century Modern Art Series: Cubism" is now available as pdf. (Peyk 128 - English section)

Seated Nude, Viewed from Behind,
Henri Matisse, 1913,
Crayon transfer lithograph.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Barton Springs!

Austin's summer is as usual warm to my always cold skin, and frustratingly hot for many with normal body temperature. My day started early in Houston with a nice breakfast and one hour of wandering around in Half Price Books, then a three-hour drive back to Austin, and it will end most probably in Chickpea Chateau after a light dinner. But at this moment I am enjoying a nice breeze in Barton Springs Pool.

"Mondays are quiet at Barton Springs!" at least this is what the tall talkative man who is sitting fifteen feet behind me tells his pal. He has a damp voice; it sounds like he needs to blow his nose. Their zinging voice makes me to unkindly think, "Hm, it would be a quiet Monday at Barton Springs if they kept their comments to themselves." I look at the chilling water. I experienced its therapeutic iciness for the first time last week, in my third summer in Austin.

Today however I am only a viewer. Some fearlessly jump in; some hesitate for a while and then with a calculated braveness let go of themselves and jump into the cold fresh water. My eyes are stalking this particular young man. Slender with puffy brown eyes, as if something just dragged him out of a faraway dream. He looks back at me right before he jumps in. I keep looking at him. He swims away. From time to time I catch a glimpse of his brown symmetrical head, vanishing into the horizon of this man-made cemented rectangle; a failed attempt in taming the wildness of fresh water. He is gone. The spring keeps running wild.

Barton Springs, aerial map, Austin

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Haiku: Clear!

The air was clear,
Smooth like a gulp of fresh water in a dry summer day.

Butterflies don’t leave any trace when they leave!
The air was clear!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: Artsy!

I am not sure how exactly Dubuffet became a pleasant companion to me, but he did. I don't even notice the time when I am with him. Dubuffet is not the first to propose that art should be clear of all accepted aesthetic conventions, but I think he is the most compelling in his proposal. He did not find art in use of beautiful color or creation of pleasing forms. Art was not for the eyes’ enjoyment. For Dubuffet “art addressed itself to the mind, and not to the eyes.”

2010 FIFA World Cup:
The sunny days of June in Austin are more vibrant due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I am following the games as much as I can. I am always for England and then unfortunately England doesn’t come up very high, so after England is eliminated I am forced to follow other teams. To me soccer is more of a human performance than a sport. Looking at it as a performance, I generally am not for the robotic play of Germany or supreme superstar soccer culture of teams like Italy or Argentina. And let’s hope for once England will play better in its next match.

On another matter yet soccer related, I hope I am not the only one who enjoys FIFA World Cup commercial/cultural advertisements much more than other TV advertisements, Let’s say Super Bowl TV ads for example. FIFA is Artsy!

For Persian Cultural Center newsletter, Peyk, I began a short series on the modern art movements of the twentieth century. The introduction article to the series, “Modernity & Art: Modernism,” is now available as a pdf on the English section of Peyk here. (No. 127, May & June 2010)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Green: More Than A Color!

This is going to be a painful week, for the memory of the last year’s Iranian presidential election and the ongoing crisis in our Iranian lives revives, as we get closer to the anniversary of the 2009 election. Blocking the mind is hard and mostly unsuccessful. The memories come back, sneaking into the moment, like the touches of green in an impressionistic landscape. There is more pain in this green than joy and yet this green is livelier than any color in an Impressionist painting. What tint is this green, is it Kelly green or Islamic green? Whatever the shade, the Iranian Green is more than a sign that signifies a political campaign. This Green is a longing in itself, a hunger for progress, equality and truth. Green is not only a color; Green is a state of being.

My State of Being, Chickpea Chateau, June 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Letters to Rilke – Number 5

Dear R,

Darling of all times,
I am sorry that my energy has evaporated to your eternity,
I am no hero!

Dearest of all dears,
I am sorry that my body cannot carry the weight of this pain any longer,
I have no courage!

The most precious of all treasures,
I am sorry that I did not wish to spend you,
I am shattered!

Dear R,
I cannot tell you
…who are they,
these vagabonds
even more transient
than we are?”*

But I can say that I have turned to one.
I am a Vagabond!

Les Saltimbanques, Picasso, 1905

*Fifth Elegy, Duino Elegies, Rilke: In the summer of 1915 Rilke stayed in Frau Hertha von Koenig's Munich apartment, where Picasso's painting of a performing troupe, Les Saltimbanques, hung.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just that!

And it came to this; dinner for one. Just that!

Zeitoon Khan in Chickpea Chateau, May 2010

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Your Hands!

Another May Day far from your hands;

Your hands,
Warm, holding my worried hands, when I looked for the missing duckling, knowing the young fox who always sneaked into the garden using the old dry stony brook, would not be hungry tonight.

Your hands,
Tender, when I escaped their kind touch on my bruised forehead, in that dark snowy day!

Your hands,
Sharp, when you hold your HB pencil, editing page after page, putting little arrows here and there, making it short, clear and smooth, the way you want all writings to be,

Your hands,
Strong in holding us all close, as if me being two oceans away is no bother,

Another May Day far from your hands,
And my days are so cold when missing your magical touch!

Hand Catching a Bird, Joan Miro,

*Happy May Day to you all, & Happy Anniversary to my parents!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bereket Concert!

Our spring concert is tomorrow;
Please join Bereket, UT Middle Eastern Ensemble, tomorrow, Saturday April 24th, at 7:30PM, in Bates Recital Hall. This spring Bereket is exploring the Middle Eastern musical interconnections, from 'Traditional' to 'Popular.'

P.S. You can listen to our performance online starting at 7:30PM here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Surreal Report of My April

Things are moving fast. Not that they change in a tangible way, no, everything is just in motion. I feel Brecht would have liked this nonstop motion. But I am poor in blending in. I am forced to simultaneously belong to it and own this ever-changing bubble, that happens to be my life; my life for the lack of a better word!

These are lonely days. And it feels lonely too. Feeling lonely is different from being lonely and I have learned of this distinction through a long monotonous experience. Population of things, memories, and bodies doesn't have any effect on the cemented loneliness that holds me deep in this unknown space; a space with unknown boundaries, where I can get lost over and over in and out of it, since I never know if I am in it or out of it. Unknown spaces have unknown merits and that is horrifying.

I have changed too; quitting is no problem anymore. Escaping is an engraved recommendation that continuously appears in my bubble. It is a ceaseless fight with me, nowadays an unknown creature, whom I knew once, and felt so close to, but it, she, I doesn't fit anywhere anymore.

Lost, March 2009

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Northern Breeze!

I found you,
hidden between the scents of saffron and chocolate,
then, the northern breeze took you away from my lungs!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Greenhill Symposium & Other Things!

Inspired by the Elenor Greenhill Art History Symposium, which was held today at the Art Building at UT, I decided to share my art exploration plans here. This is basically a list of art exhibitions that I would like to see in the coming weeks in Austin.

In its "New Works" section, the Austin Museum of Art has Luke Savisky on view through May 9th. In his light installation Savisky uses film and digital projections to converse a light pose on the white wall of the galley. I like to see if this light projection, which sounds like an abstract dancing pose on the wall, will transform the space. I am interested in the transformation of the space. So I will walk into this show with an active expectation!

Desire will be on view through April 25, at the Blanton Museum of Art. Desire presents explorations on the concept of 'desire' by different artists in various mediums. Also at the Blanton, there is Manuel Álvarez Bravo and His Contemporaries, a photography show. The photographs are selected from the Harry Ransom Center photo archive and the Blanton museum collection. The show will be on view until the end of July.

Women and Their Work is featuring Kathryn Kelley’s work through April 15th. Kelley transforms urban waste and makes art installations: “treading where no one hears the echo of her foot fall.” I have been always interested in this process of art making, when the borderline between everyday life and art is minimized via a creative transformation. I did some work on Tim Nobel and Sue Webster, whose works are different in the medium but similar in the concept. My recent piece on Nobel and Webster was published in the English section of Peyk 125: Turning Garbage to Art; Shadow Sculptures by Tim Noble and Sue Webster.

And tomorrow I am going to the opening of Alison Kuo’s exhibition at the SOFA gallery.

I have been so busy with the school that I missed a bunch of good shows in Austin. So I thought if I do not make a public claim on some gallery trips, I would miss more exhibitions. Voilà !

Detail of treading where no one hears the echo of her foot fall
by Kathryn Kelley

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our Green Nowruz!

Happy Nowruz!
Happy Persian New Year!
Happy Spring!
Happy Green!

The Year of Patience & Resistance for Iran!
Stay Awake with Iran !

Related links:
Mir Hossein Mousavi's Nowruz Message
Mehdi Karubi's Nowruz Message
President Obama's Nowruz Message

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Poetry of My Digital Life!

How digital my poetic life is,
How cold, print-like and flat!

How digital have become my eyes, my lips and my memory?

No trace of ink on my fingers, when I struggle
to touch on the soul of a faraway spring,
or the fear of a spring to come!

And when a phrase tickles my mind
and pours out of me,
I am often looking at the crowded road,
Surrounded by the scent of American highways,

And there is no scratch, no friction, no stroke,
when I materialize on a fake digital page.

Frozen, like a narrow creek in a harsh winter,
this is how digital my poetic life is, at the beginning of the spring!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One of Those Days

One of those days,
When no one is left, but the streets are crowded,

One of those days,
When the hope is gone, but the day still goes on,

One of those days,
When dreaming is scary, but the bed is warm,

It is one of those days of the spring break!

Spring 2008, Princeton

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Voices in Green!

Voices In Green
Creative Practices in Response to the 2009 Iranian Presidential Election

February 19 – March 5 2010
FAB Galley
Join us for the closing gathering of Voices in Green, Friday March 5th at 6:30PM,

Take a last look at Voices in Green.
Please join us for the closing gathering of Voices in Green on Friday March 5th at 6:30PM in the FAB gallery, located on the lower level of the Doty Fine Arts Building. There will be a review and a gallery talk followed by Q&A. After the closing discussion on March 5th, Voices in Green will continue to celebrate at the Dog and Duck Pub . Voices in Green is an archival exhibition focusing on art and activism around the Iranian Green Movement. These works were created after the crisis of the 2009 Iranian presidential election and all of them were distributed online.

© Rauch Design, photo Green Bird

Related Links:
Department of Art and Art History:
Closing reception for Voices in Green exhibition at FAB Gallery

Friday, February 19, 2010

Take a Green Look at:

Voices In Green
Creative Practices in Response to the 2009 Iranian Presidential Election
February 19 – March 5 2010
FAB Gallery

Please join us for the opening of Voices in Green in the FAB Gallery on February 19th at 5PM.

Voices in Green is an archival exhibition focusing on art and activism around the Iranian Green Movement. These works were created after the crisis of the 2009 Iranian presidential election and all of them were distributed online. Voices in Green will be on view from February 19th to March 5th in the FAB gallery, located on the lower level of the Doty Fine Arts Building.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black Abstraction!

How I hate traveling!
I lose my little things.
How I hate iron tubs!
I lose my colorful little things.

That's how I've lost them,
Two sticker butterflies, two Eastern tiger swallowtails.

When I first noticed my butterflies are not there
On the black of my notebook,
I looked out of that hateful window of the cylindrical iron giant that happens to fly.
I looked with a childish hope that they are out there,
Flying above the white clouds.

Of course,
They were not out there.

So my eyes wondered around the airplane,
I searched and searched; Nothing!
Hopelessly I started asking people,
Secretly thankful to my good look and my now improved English,
So no one would notify a shrink on emergency call - at least not immediately.

I asked them seat by seat,
“Have you seen my butterflies?”
I asked myself “Where are my butterflies?”
Nostalgically reminded of the past summer,
When, in now a faraway country, people went round and round shouting, “where is my vote?”

Here I was looking for two fake butterflies,
So I can stick them back to the vacant blackness of my frightened notebook.

And when I got some nasty pitiful looks from my puzzled fellow-travelers,
I came back to where I first noticed them gone.

And it is like this that I hate traveling.
I lose the things that once made me the happiest girl with curly hair on earth.
And that is like this that I hate faraway places.
I know there will be no butterflies on my notebook when I get back home.

I didn’t know what really happened to my sticky butterflies;
How I lost them, or how they decided to leave!

But I could imagine,
And yes, I can imagine well,

Like me, perhaps,
With broken pride and wings paralyzed with throes,
They could not take the humiliation of phoniness,
At least not on their being,
At least not on their love,

And I could imagine,
When the butterflies of my childish happiness,
Drew back from the darkness of my notes on Greenberg and abstraction,
The garden of my naiveté
Transformed to the black of réalité.

No more butterflies,
No more colorful stickers,
No more, I thought.
Nothing phony can refine the childish sincerity by sticking to it!

And that's how I stuck with the black of abstraction!

Black Abstraction, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1927

Saturday, February 13, 2010

CAA 2010: 2nd Glance

Chicago is not getting warmer, but it has not been as cold as expected. Daily panels and discussions, museum and gallery visits during lunchtime and afternoon breaks, and evening drinks is a good précis of my 4 days of CAA 2010 Conference in Chicago. Other than the usual art historian’s snobbishness and some hyper-intellectual-after-session discussions there is nothing much to gossip about. The most crowded and well-discussed panel so far has been Intention and Interpretation part I. (part II will be this afternoon)

I miss Zeitoon. I just hope to return to Austin soon. I will have a very exciting week ahead with the installation of Voices in Green, the archival exhibition that I am curating.

Bird's Flight, Jean Dubuffet, September 1959
The Art Institute of Chicago

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Scattered on CAA2010

In Chicago. It snows. Tired of airports. My mind is freezing. Missing my chubby cat.

Just picked up my conference badge. I feel sheepish wearing the badge around my neck; wish there were ID pins.

Already marked the session I am interested in; my list is much shorter than last year. Tomorrow I would like to check out two morning panels: Post-Duchamp, Post Production (Media in Art Theory and Pedagogy) and Future of Criticism. In the afternoon, I will check the open session on Surrealism and one talk on the Modernism & Collectivism panel.

Like always there are some sessions starting at 7:30AM and like always I feel bad for their organizers. In the middle of the winter, in Chicago, at 7:30AM; not everyone is staying at the conference hotel!

I look forward to meeting Professor H. It is a year since I’ve seen her last. Have lots of things to tell her; many sad things on Iran and some progressive professional news.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


It is a feeling, before the first drop falls,
It is a feeling, sharp, crisp, awake,

It is a feeling in the throat,
A feeling of rain,
Just before the tears pour down!

Pouring, Austin, Feb. 3rd 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Last Week of January in Austin:

Just a quick post to let you know what is happening in Austin in the last week of January.

Tonight the Creative Research Lab has the opening reception for their first exhibition in 2010. Ideas of Mountains is a group exhibition with concentration on large scale installations. The exhibition will be on view until February 6th. Ideas of Mountains features 11 pieces by artists affiliated with Austin and/or the Department of Art and Art History at UT. I am exited to see the installations by Mark Aguhar, Andrew Long and Kendra Kinsey. For more info check the Creative Research Lab website, which, to be honest, is not so user friendly. Come and enjoy the the first night of this exhibition!

Ideas of Mountains
January 23 - February 6, 2010
Opening Reception: January 23, 6:00-9:00 PM
Artists Talk: January 28, 6:30-8:00 PM
Creative Research Lab: 2832 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Austin

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The spring semester will start tomorrow at UT. I hope for a very green semester; Green with all of its metaphors!

I have two classes and an advance reading tutorial course with my advisor. My January so far was challenging and experimental. I was part of a compact course offered by Anhoek School; Accidental Pornographies - the Visual Effects of the American Women's Health Movement Since 1970. The class discussions made the challenge worthwhile. Besides my accidental course, I prepared, wrote and rewrote the labels for my coming exhibition. I will write about that in detail in another post.

I will end this post with a couple of lines from André Breton’s autobiographical novel, Nadja:

“Beauty is like a train that ceaselessly roars out of the Gare de Lyon and which I know will never leave, which has not left. It consists of jolts and shocks many of which do not have much importance, but which we know are destined to produce one Shock, which does. Which has all the importance I do not want to arrogate to myself. In every domain the mind appropriates certain rights, which it does not possess. Beauty, neither static nor dynamic. The human heart, beautiful as a seismograph. Royalty of silence. […] Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all.”*

Nadja Cover

* Breton, Nadja 1928, trans. R.Howard, Grove Press New York (1960), pp. 159-160.
** Please note that the italic words, capital letters and different fonts in Breton's writings are important. I have not changed them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Letters to Rilke – Number 4

Dear R,

Your fig tree,
The one that meant a lot to you,
What happened to it,
What came of the hero?

My fig tree,
The one I grew up with,
The one that hid the boy next door among its wide leaves,
The one that I marked my little brother’s height on,
The fig tree that was so real then, is now only a dream!

No blossoms,
No hero,
Just a dream,
A dream that I cannot even share with a child I will never have!

Fig Tree, Paul Klee

*Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegie (the sixth elegy) part of the Letters to Rilke, my sequence in process.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sneak a Peek

Petrified, Photo by Roja Najafi
Hearst Castle, CA, October 2007

Liberty in Tears, Photo by Roja Najafi
NY, May 2008

Is No Right, Photo by Roja Najafi
Graffiti on Lord & Taylor Billboard,
NJ Transit Train Station, Princeton , April 2008

* Three photographs from Fragmented Close-up, a 17-piece photography collection; Anyone interested in exhibiting these babies?

PS. Fragmented Close-up was my two-year photography project (2007-2009) which was completed on December 2009. I thought it was clear that I am the photographer. Just to prevent the confusion I wrote the complete title with the photographer's name.