Fariba Hajamadi

Article Bio Works Projects Images www
history, language, memory, violence
Visual Arts (installation art, photography)
Middle East, America, North
Iran (Islamic Republic of), United States of America
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July 22, 2003
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Picturing the Museum

Fariba Hajamadi, originally from Iran, studied at the California Institute of the Arts during the early 1980s, at a time when critiques of representation and the discourse of institutional critique were at their height. In her photographs and installations, Hajamadi engages with many systems of representation and domination, both historically and visually. Museums and their taxonomies of objects, historiography of events, and hierarchy of regions are the main object of her research. Hajamadi lives and works in New York.
Since the mid-1980s, Hajamadi’s work has been systematically exploring the possibilities and applications of the medium of photography, and has been engaged with an investigation of photography’s potential for unraveling the operations of dominance through representation. As the artist states: “My work is interrogative of such cultural standards as history, common language, visual information (seductive imagery) as well as their interactions and the processes involved in their consumption.”

In the mid-1980s, Hajamadi began using photo emulsion on canvas or wood to expand the painterly potential of photography and to insert the medium more poignantly into the discourse of art history, and take it away from the contexts of advertisement, media, or journalism. Hajamadi used the resulting operations of abstraction, of withholding immediate visual resolution of the image, as a means of “slowing down the moment of looking,” of bringing the act of seeing to consciousness. The subject matter of Hajamadi’s work focuses on modes and sites of display, both in public and in semi-private realms. Museums and churches, memorial sites and the former homes of historical figures are subjected to an inquiry about the ways knowledge is conveyed, history is produced, and memory is controlled. Rather than offering narratives through which events or discourses could be maintained, Hajamadi offers “constellations” (Hajamadi) in which she juxtaposes disparate, sometimes violently dissimilar elements to undermine any sense of homogeneity.

For example, her work “by passion the world is bound, by passion too it is released” (1989) presents two panels featuring the mirrored images of a decorative art museum’s interior. An old fashioned cannon, presented on a low pedestal, points in the direction of a chair, which has been slightly rearranged to be exactly in the cannon’s shooting range. Her work “Enormous as Insomnia—the Guanches, Museo Canarlo” (1991) consists of one large wood panel, which features a centrally aligned view into a museum gallery that is lined with a vitrine full of human skulls. Produced in a pale sepia tone and with photo emulsion technique, the work withdraws the strangely beautiful image from the scientific or scholarly realm and returns it to the larger framework of memory.

In the early 1990s, Hajamadi’s work began to incorporate installation as she began to use the material settings of gallery spaces for her work. For an exhibition in Paris in 1993, Hajamadi covered the walls of the gallery with different types of wallpaper that served as a visual and thematic framing device for the various subjects (eroticism, pursuit, violence, and rape) that the exhibition discussed. Using fragments of historical images for wallpaper and combining them with different photographic motifs, Hajamadi inserts multiple readings into her thematic framework. For “Crushed Screams” (1993), she uses scenes of hanging men and men tied to tree trunks from Goya’s “Disasters of War” for wallpaper and contrasts this scene with a triptych: a photos of a dead tree, surrounded left and right by photos of a taxidermic reptile tied to a tree. Countering the museological taxonomy of history, fine arts, and natural history with an approach of elective affinities, Hajamadi enables every element to remain unresolved—because it is not incorporated into a homogenizing totality.

Her series “Under Cover” (1995) presents photographs taken in museums under reconstruction and shows images of paintings covered with newspaper to protect them form dust and dirt. Sometimes, the edge of a painting remains visible, and in all cases, the extensive labels inform the viewer about the artwork hidden from sight. Hajamadi creates a jarring discrepancy between scholarly museum labels and the often shocking headlines of newspapers, replacing the visual experience of the covered painting and its art historical themes with the more conflicting reality of current events.

Throughout the 1990s, Hajamadi’s prolific activity has continued along the parameters of these principles. Combining wall assemblages from different motifs of art history—illustrations by Goya, erotic images from Indian Hindu iconography, or 18th century English hunting scenes—with photographs and photographic collages taken in museums and around the world, Hajamadi has brought a unique perspective to the field of representational critique. Fariba Hajamadi
Author: Christian Rattemeyer


*1957 in Isfahan, Iran.
Lives and works in New York.


Solo Exhibitions (Selection)

Exhibition / Installation,
Selected Solo Exhibitions 2001 New-York, Christine Burgin Gallery, “Fariba Hajamadi” 2000 New York, Art & Idea New York, “Shadows” 1998 Paris, Galerie Laage-Salomon, “Without a body of my own” 1996 New York, Max Protetch Gallery 1995 Caen, France, FRAC Basse Normandie, “Fariba Hajamadi” Paris, Galerie Laage-Salomon 1994 La Roche-sur-Yon, Musée municipal, “Fariba Hajamadi” 1993 Paris, Galerie Laage-Salomon, Paris Milan, Galerie Transepoca 1991 New York, Christine Burgin Gallery Dunkerque, Ecole Régional d’Art 1990 New York, Christine Burgin Gallery Paris, Galerie Laage-Salomon Chicago, Rhona Hoffman Gallery 1989 Londres, Interim Art Bruges, Galerie Bruges-La-Morte 1988 New York, Christine Burgin Gallery. 1987 Buffalo, CEPA Gallery New York, Christine Burgin Gallery Queens, New York, Queens Museum Philadelphia, ICA, University of Pennsylvania, “Investigations” Munich, Galerie Rudiger Schöttle 1982 Valencia, California, A-402 Gallery

Selected Group Exhibitions (since 1987)

Exhibition / Installation,
2001 Paris, Galerie Laage-Salomon, “Raconter des Histoires” 2000 Baltimore, The Contemporary Museum, “Snapshot” Hannover, Kestner Museum, “Strange Home” Maidstone, Maidstone Museum and Art Gallery, “On the Frac Track” Copenhagen , Denmark, Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, “Ekbatana” Hall in Tirol, Kunsthalle Tirol, “Exlux” 1999 Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, “Transmute” 1998 Kassel, Germany, “Echolot”, Museum Fridericianum Montreuil, France, “Archives des Lointains”, Musée de l’Histoire Vivante 1997 Berlin, Haus Der Kulturen der Welt, “Other Modernities” New York, Thomas Nordanstad Gallery, “You can’t get there from here” Copenhagen, Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center 1996 Caen, FRAC Basse Normandie, “Exergue” New York, Kent Gallery “dif.fer.ence.” Tokyo, Sagacho Exhibition Space, “Sosies”. New York, Clock Tower Gallery, P.S. 1 Museum; “Home/Salon”. New York, Clock Tower Gallery, P.S.1 Museum; “Departure Lounge” Graz, Austria, “Remote Connections”, Neue Gallery Jerusalem, Art Focus Turku, Finlande, Wäinö Aaltonen Museum, “Remote Connections” 1995 Paris, le Monde de l’Art, “Etrangères au Paradis” Istanbul, 4th International Istanbul Biennial, “Orientation” La Roche-sur Yon, Musée Municipal, “Nouvelles Acquisitions et Collection du Musée”. Arles, “Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie” 1994 Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, A.R.C., “L’hiver de l’Amour” New York, Thread Waxing Space, “Don’t look now” New York, Max Protetch, “Drama” Paris, Espace Hervé Mikaeloff, rue du Grenier St Lazare, “Sosie” New York, Kent Gallery, “Where is Home” 1992 Chicago, Rhona Hoffman New York, Fisher Landau Center, “Materials Matters” Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, “Images Métisses” Naples, Villa Campolieto, “Misure e Misurazioni” 1991 Prato, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, “Altrove fra immagine e identità, fra identità e tradizione” Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, “Desplazamientos (Displacements)” Malmö, Rooseum, “Trans/Mission” Los Angeles, Richard Kuhlenschmidt, “Hajamadi, Perlman Welling” New York, White Columns, “The Library of Babel” 1990 Stuttgart, Galerie Ralph Wernicke Paris, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery, “Vertigo” Stockholm, Galleri Nordanstad-Skarstedt, “Disconnections” Dayton, Rice University Art Gallery, Wright State University, “Assembled” Stuttgart, Galerie Ralph Wernicke 1989 Boston, Barbara Krakow Gallery, “Painting/Object/Photography” Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, “The Silent Baroque” New York, Barbara Toll Gallery, “A Good Read: The Book as Metaphor” Pasadena, California, Art Center School of Design, “Fauxtography” New York, Simon Watson Gallery, “Fariba Hajamadi/David Cabrera: An installation” 1988 New York, Bess Cutler Gallery, “A Walk Out to Winter” New York, Scott Hansen Gallery, “Complexity and Contradiction” Chicago, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, “The Inside and the Outside” 1987 New York, Christine Burgin Gallery, “Fariba Hajamadi, Gerhard Merz, James Welling” New York, The New Museum, “Fake” New York, Loughleton Gallery, “2001 ?” Cuenco, Equateur, Museo de Arte Moderno, “Bienale Internacional de Peintura”, A different Corner, Pavillon Américain Stuttgart, Galerie Ralph Wernicke New York, Annina Nosei Gallery Los Angeles, Asher Faure Gallery Chicago, The Renaissance Society, “CalArts: Skeptical Belief(s)” Newport Beach, Stux Gallery, “Of ever-Ever Land i Speak” Abbaye de Fontevraud, FRAC Pays de la Loire, “Quatrièmes Ateliers Internationaux des Pays de la Loire”


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Die Anderen Modernen

Contemporary Art from Africa, Asia & Latin America

(08 May 97 - 27 July 97)


The artist´s website

"Persian gardens"
"a body in a cage of clarity"