Morehshin Allahyari

Moreshin Allahyari, She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake, 2018. Image courtesy the artist

Morehshin Allayhari, Material Speculation: ISIS, Gorgon, 2016. Image courtesy the artist

Moreshin Allahyari, She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake, 2018. Image courtesy the artist

Morehshin Allahyari (b. 1985, Tehran, Iran) lives and works in New York, USA. Allahyari is an artist, activist, and educator. Her work deals with the political, social and cultural contradictions we face every day. She thinks about technology both as a philosophical tool to reflect on objects and as a poetic means to document our personal and collective life struggles in the 21st century. Her modelled, 3D-printed sculptural reconstructions of ancient artefacts destroyed by ISIS, titled Material Speculation: ISIS, have received widespread curatorial and press attention and have been exhibited worldwide. 

She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake is a new online commission for Liverpool Biennial 2018 by Morehshin Allahyari that takes the form of web-based hypertext narrative. The work re-appropriates the story of the Laughing Snake taken from the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Arabic manuscript Kitab al-bulhan (The Book of Wonders). The various myths told about the Laughing Snake, reveal the story of a monstrous figure – some believe an al-Jinn – who has taken over a city and its lands, murdering its people and animals. Over the years there are many attempts at destroying this jinn, but none are successful. One day, hope is sparked when an old man living in a cave comes forth with a revelation: the only way to kill the snake is to hold a mirror in front of her. When people do so, and the snake sees her own image in the mirror and starts laughing. She laughs for days and nights until she self-destroys and dies. Through the re-telling of this story, Allahyari reflects on a series of personal and imagined stories in relation to the female body in the Middle-east, hysteria and re-imagined futures.

She is the recipient of Foreign Policy magazine’s Leading Global Thinkers of 2016 award, the Digital Sculpture 2016 award from the Institute of Digital Art, NYU's La Guardia Studio visiting scholar grant (2017) and Rhizome's 2018 commission. Her work has been shown at the Queens Museum, New York, USA; Tate Modern, London, UK; Venice Biennale di Archittectura, Italy; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, among many others.

Morehshin Allahyari, She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake, 2018 is commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, FACT and Whitney Museum of American Art

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