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Pouya Afshar:
A Return To The Flesh

June 23rd, 2022 –
July 16th, 2022

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Artist Statement

“you know how dangerous it is
to wear dark skin”

– Lucille Clifton

“Our skin is just a cover-up
For the land where none dare go,
an internal inferno,
The anathema of anatomy.”

– Wisława Szymborska

This exhibition includes new, old, recycled, and repurposed pieces that in some way contain flesh, skin, intestines, and other body parts. While making these pieces my mind was occupied with matters of race, specifically how the social construction of racial difference shapes emotion and cognition, marking and molding the body.

In “Letter From A Region In My Mind,” James Baldwin writes, “Long before the Negro child perceives this difference, and even longer before he understands it, he has begun to react to it, he has begun to be controlled by it.” The difference with which Baldwin is concerned is the distinction between white and black, a spurious pseudoscientific division at the rotten core of white supremacy, whose foremost tenet is white is might and right.

We may not be able to gauge emotional rewards and losses in the same way that we contest the value systems produced by racially discriminatory structures, but they are at work in the psychic realities of racial economies.

What I am exploring in these pieces is racialized emotion and how it manifests physically, within our flesh and skin, when we go through racially charged situations. How we metamorphose internally but also externally. How we circulate, assess, and express emotions in physical form. How we process collective guilt, pleasure, shame, or other emotional gains and losses. How the body transforms when we struggle for inclusion and how it reshapes itself when in need of racial contestation.

Artist Biography

Pouya Afshar is an alumnus of the California Institute of Arts Character Animation department and is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles Graduate Department of Film and Television focusing on Animation and Digital Media. He has exhibited his work as a visual artist throughout the United States and the Middle East, including Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center, Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California, Royce Hall at the University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Santa Monica Art Studios, 18th street Art Center, Craft Contemporary Museum, and numerous galleries and art fairs around the world. Pouya has presented his research at Stanford University, Harvard University, University of Southern California, The School of Museum of Fine Arts Boston, University of California Los Angeles, and Residency Unlimited NY. He is the creator, character designer, and producer of the animated series ‘Rostam in Wonderland’ the co-creator of ‘1PA2PA’ comics, and the creator of ‘TEHRAN’ graphic novel. He is currently an associate professor of art at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

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