Digital/New Media Art and Contemporary Iran: Questions of Gender

Morehshin Allahyari

Adjunct Professor, Center of Creative Computation, Southern Methodist University

Jennifer Way, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Art History, University of North Texas

On August 20, 2012, Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology announced that thirty-six universities would cut seventy-seven fields of study from the female curriculum, making them male-only fields. They include archaeology, nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and business management, among others. The ban resulted from Iran’s government’s perceptions about the already-greater and still-increasing number of women attending universities in Iran in comparison to men, and it made news around the world. From London The Telegraph observed, “Iran has the highest ratio of female to male undergraduates in the world, according to UNESCO. Female students have become prominent in traditionally male-dominated courses like applied physics and some engineering disciplines.” Consequently, it reported, “[s]enior clerics in Iran’s theocratic regime have become concerned about the social side-effects of rising educational standards among women, including declining birth and marriage rates.” As a result, many programs would become “‘single gender’ and effectively exclusive to men.” [1]

The intersection of women and the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – serves as a point of departure for our essay. However, to this topic we introduce an emphasis on technology in and in relation to Iran as well as another component – art. Specifically, we address a type of art often treated as synonymous with technology – new media art. Similar to women studying in the universities of Iran, do women in the contemporary art world who work with technology there experience situations that differ from those of their male colleagues, such as problems concerning access or opportunities to learn about or use technology for creating, presenting, or distributing their work? We also want to inquire whether – and, if so, how – gender differences factor into the ways women perceive themselves as artists or make sense of the meaning and significance of digital/new media art in Iran or elsewhere. To launch our research into these matters, during December 2012 and January 2013 we used e-mail and Skype to conduct informal interviews with ten women artists. Two reside in Tehran, and they requested that we do not publish their names. The remaining eight were born and raised in Iran and only recently left to pursue education and art activities in Europe, Canada, or the United States. [2] Additionally, we attempted to interview three of the male new media curators and artists who participated in TADAEX, Tehran Annual Digital Art Exhibition.  Happily, two responded – Sohrab Kashani, Director and Curator of Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts, Tehran, and Mani Nilchiani, one of the presenters at the first TADAEX held during 2011; currently, he lives in New York. We integrated comments from our interviews with all these individuals into the essay that follows.

To be sure, a few of the women suggested that questions regarding digital/new media art are a non-issue simply because this art has no foothold in Iran. As one of the women put it: “So, there is not yet such a field in Iran’s universities as new media, digital art or any kind of new art, to be gendered!” [3] Others thought that regardless of recent changes, distinctions in what men and women may study would follow familiar lines. One of the respondents stated that technology-based art would remain devalued “[b]ecause they count art as more feminine fields, in comparison with mechanic[al] or ship engineering.” To this point, she added, “[T]hey might prefer [that] more women study art, and after study[ing] stay home and paint occasionally while . . . keep[ing] their house and children.” [4]

Interestingly, this observation resonates in the scholarship of European and North American feminist historians of technology. As an example, we use Judy Wajcman’s “Feminist Theories of Technology,” an essay in which she surveys ways that “[w]omen’s identities, needs and priorities are configured together with digital technologies.” [5] There is also the gendering of people with and through technology that she conceives as a social and cultural relationship producing gender identities and differences involving access to what is considered a dominant technology, and perceptions regarding who has interest in and the capacity to work with technology. Thus, Wajcman holds that “the increasingly complex intertwining of gender and technoscience [is] an ongoing process of mutual shaping over time and across multiple sites.” [6] Wajcman also contends that “in contemporary Western society, the hegemonic form of masculinity is still strongly associated with technical prowess and power.” [7]

Published reactions to the changed status of women in technology-related fields in Iran’s universities indicate, at some level, a corresponding construction of social dominance. Journal of Turkish Weekly reported that exiled Nobel Peace laureate and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi wrote to the United Nations asserting “this action [was] an attempt to put barriers to the feminist movement in Iran.” To this point, she says a “‘sexual division of labor’” is constituting “some fields of work or study [as] naturally peculiar to one sex” leading, ultimately, to “restraining women within the private realm, namely home,” a practice that “aims to reduce women’s role to mothers and wives.” [8] The American Chronicle of Higher Education discerned similar effects: “Barring women from certain fields of study comes hand-in-hand with the reversal of Iran’s family-planning program – one of the most successful in the world.” [9] The US State Department called upon “Iranian authorities to protect women’s rights and to uphold Iran’s own laws and international obligations which guarantee non-discrimination in all areas of life, including access to education.” [10]

We are mindful that since the nineteenth century, as modern Western societies attributed the ability to create and wield technology primarily to men, they concurrently socialized women to perceive that what technology consists of, how it works, and what it may be used for is beyond their ken. This does not seem to have been the case in Iran. To be sure, some women asked by the authors to comment on the situation for women studying STEM disciplines in Iran responded with optimism:

What happened last year, regular universities to cut fields for female students won’t last long, as many, many times there were different kinds of suppressions to cut women from the society, but this will not succeed. Women in Iran will find other ways to get educated in that field, for example in non-governmental colleges or organised private classes by university professors outside of the universities.[11]

Others take a longer view. Ida Momennejad, now in Berlin, reflects,

I think it’s crucial to acknowledge institutional developments that have mediated the disproportionately high participation of Iranian women in engineering and sciences as well as other fields within the past three decades. For instance, kindergartens are available on government funded university campuses and institutions. This has enabled women from far away cities to seek higher education and participate in the working place while having children.” [12]

Additionally, she identifies a subtle balancing act at work:

What I understand from personal observation as well as statistics, is that Iranian people, even those populating remote villages, see higher education as a path to better lives for their daughter’s [sic]. Meanwhile, in a tough economic climate, more men are attracted to [the] market rather than spending four years or more in higher education. . . .  As a measure of compensation, rather than treating causes for disproportionate participation, the administration has cut the funding for female students. So I don’t see it in any way [an] appropriate reflection of the Iranian attitude to women’s education, but a sad fact about how easily oppressive gender laws can be enforced. [13]

Momennejad also contends that gender holds significance for technology in the art world:  “As to the question whether digital is gendered, I think it is. The idea of gender equality is an ongoing struggle within the Iranian culture.” [14]

Wajcman and her colleagues show that in the past, technology was conflated with men and masculinity, thus affording men an increased agency tantamount to greater power. Conversely, it demoted women to less significant roles of receivers and consumers. Moreover, Wajcman states that technology continues to be gendered and to work by gendering: “[I]n contemporary Western society, the hegemonic form of masculinity is still strongly associated with technical prowess and power.” Correspondingly, “[n]otwithstanding the recurring rhetoric about women’s opportunities in the new knowledge economy, men continue to dominate technical work.” [15] We ask, therefore, in what ways does a gendering of technology occur in the contemporary art world of Iran, with emphasis on Tehran?  Do women artists have opportunities to work with technology? Are they represented by institutions that foster or otherwise support new media art? In the next section we consider how these themes resonate in TADAEX. Then, in the final section of our essay we sample women digital/new media artists commenting on a number of related issues.

New media art in Iran – an “hegemonic form of masculinity”?


During the past five years or so, the Iranian art scene has gone through an interesting yet sudden shift by developing exhibitions, festivals and conferences devoted to new media art. A prime example is the Tehran Annual Digital Art Exhibition, or TADAEX.

TADAEX website featuring Ida Momennejad lecture, 2012, screen capture.

TADAEX website featuring Ida Momennejad lecture, 2012, screen capture.

Beginning in 2011, this annual, invitation-only exhibition has aimed to catalyze research in a future-oriented framework. Its website declares, “TADAEX focuses on art, science, technology and society to present the impact of art as a research and development tool for humanity in a variety of different disciplines. We believe that TADAEX can help to create a serious motivation for the young generation of artists in Iran to understand the influence of digital art movement.” [17]

Several women we interviewed attest to its importance. Ava Ansari observes, “Before the founding of TADAEX . . . there was no proper source for artists and art lovers to see new media projects closely.” [18]  Momennejad says the festival fosters “a simple sense of wonder, a desire to make and experiment, socialize and join collectives or learn from them,” [19] while Mani Nilchiani highlights its status as “a quite successful showcase of current new media art practice in Iran, and as a platform for popularizing and introducing new interdisciplinary practices.” [20]

Momennejad especially underscores the festival’s significance for championing inclusive social, philosophical and material dimensions of new media art. She states:

The conclusion of our panel was that in fact we find digital art both democratic and philosophical. Anyone can participate as long as they have a good idea or concept to convey, and anyone with the appropriate work and language can participate in the ongoing discourse and experimental dialogue that is creating the work. We thought that this dialectic between material constraint and conveying content using overlooked media that are used by everyone on a daily basis is a building block of digital arts. One of the better parts of the conversation concerned the possibility of turning devices used by every person into material for your work of art. Think of apps, or art work that needs to be seen through the lens of a camera (in fact this was a work by a woman Iranian artist. She painted images in negative, and the only way to see the real image was to look at it through the lens of your camera with a negative effect, or take a picture of it and apply a negative filter to it). As most Iranians are in possession of smart phones and personal computers, and as our generation has produced far more engineers than it can offer jobs to, I think there is plenty material and resources for digital arts to thrive, enter the public sphere, and turn into an instrument of democratic participation. [21]

It is important to note that TADAEX serves as a major means to link the Iranian art scene with the world. In some respects it treats contemporary art in Tehran as the local culture it integrates internationally by partnering with ARS Electronica, which is located in Austria, along with the Association of Neuroaesthetics and – both headquartered in Berlin. In addition, the festival brings art to Iran. Ansari, who participated in the venture, explains:

I worked with Arash Salehi for the last TADAEX to gather works of the American new media artists to be represented in Iran. The feedback was great. I was a contributor to the TADAEX project by introducing and connecting the curator to the artists who reside in the US, and inviting them to participate and exhibit their works in Iran. We specifically asked for the works that are software-based and required simple setup to avoid transportation challenges. [22]

Along with the many ways the women we interviewed credited TADAEX with enriching contemporary art and artists in Iran, Momennejad put forth the possibility that women artists in particular stand to benefit from engaging with technology in ways TADAEX seems to facilitate. Reflecting upon the festival together with her own training, she states,

My own education has been strongly mediated by the Internet while I lived in Iran. I see mindful encounters with technology particularly empowering for women. Short of endorsing technofeminism, I think the unrestrained and fresh sphere of digital media offers a realm for women to experiment with expressing ideas through interfering with, interacting with, or creating machines. I see digital art as an experiment in putting the ghost in the machine, the ghost of your choice. What can be more empowering than that? [23]

At the same time, TADAEX calls to mind vanguard art events in the United States in which men’s access to and participation with technology predominated over women’s or what was known about or represented in regard to women’s artistic activity, such as the “[t]he exclusion of women artists from the major Art and Technology exhibition mounted by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA], in 1971.” [24]  Momennejad asserts, “In general, my observation at TADAEX was that the number of female participants was really few. If I recall correctly there were only two female names on the program. This was surprising as Iran has produced disproportionately more female engineers within the next decade.”[25]

Beyond women studying engineering, if female new media artists exist in Iran, why have they not had better representation in TADAEX? To this point, Momennejad acknowledges the contributions that contemporary European institutions, including the Guggenheim Foundation in Berlin and Venice, together with the Mohsen Gallery in Tehran, played in supporting her participation with the festival:

Without these institutional supports, I am not sure if these collaborations would have been possible in the way that they were. I think one major impediment to the participation of women in digital art inside Iran is the lack of such institutional support. My observation is that there are less women in digital art inside Iran compared to men. I think outside Iran the situation may be reversed, but I do not have the statistics. [26]

Sohrab Kashani, one of the male TADAEX organizers, addresses these issues, stating,

[S]ome materials are very cheap in Iran in comparison to other countries, and at the same time some devices and equipment are much more expensive due to the recent sanctions against Iran and therefore sometimes not available in the market or are very hard to find. Galleries exhibit these artworks part of group shows set up by the galleries themselves and curators in Tehran but [a] lack of art institutions and museums is an issue that not only affects exhibition of digital new media artworks but other mediums and concepts as well. [27]

Interestingly, he does not “think working with technology and art inside/outside Iran is gendered.” Yet, notwithstanding the numbers of women studying technology subjects in the universities, Kashani suggests men lead women in using technology in the art world. He says, “although there are more men working with technology and art in Iran rather than women that could perhaps trace back partly to the fact that men usually educate in the technology-related fields in Iran – which probably has to do with traditions and families. Outside Iran I know of more women who experiment and work with technology and art.” [28]

How can so many women study technology in the university to the extent that the Iranian government perceives their presence as a threat that will outdo men while, at the same time, for Kashani at least, “there are more men working with technology and art in Iran rather than women”? Does the presence of women in the university have no bearing on the visibility of women in the art world? Is there something about technology and art, or in art, that demands a “hegemonic form of masculinity… still strongly associated with technical prowess and power”? Most of the women we interviewed mentioned the lack of a significant presence of women artists in TADAEX, if not also generally in new media art in Iran. Behnaz Farahi states,

I also want to add that it seems to me that as a young woman you always feel that you are more respected and welcomed to talk outside Iran, whereas in Iran maybe because it is a more male-dominated society you feel dejected in so many public venues to express yourself. In the West women such as Neri Oxman, Elena Manferdini, Marta Male [Marta Malé-Alemany] and Mette Thomsen are some of the leaders in their field. They are important female role models, and inspire me to think that I could be one of them. [29]

Farahi, who currently studies at University of Southern California School of Architecture, also links the mediation of gender distinctions in technology and art to her perception that a larger structure – “male-dominated society” – hinders her activity. This prompts her to compare the situation for artists using technology in Iran versus the United States, noting,

I do believe that it is gendered in Iran not maybe that explicitly in that many cases but it is almost certainly gendered. I do feel more natural here in the States. For example I have constant access to fabrication workshops. In Iran you have limited access to even holding a drill or welding machine in your hand, let alone having the whole shop to yourself. For sure everything is more exaggerated for women. Moreover, in Iran I had no opportunity to show my work in front of an international audience. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have been able to show my work in front of an audience of various critics and reviewers from around Los Angeles. [30]

In making this comparison, Farahi considers the trajectory of her own creative processes:

Regarding my last work, which was the research design on interactive architecture, I can say that I do think that digital new media art or any sort of new projects that have to do with novel technology and techniques are interwoven with the fact that the artist has to have an unlimited access to resources of which arguably we can say that the ‘internet’ is of the utmost importance. Being in Iran you have really limited access to the internet. Factors such as the low speed and the blocking and filtering of so many pages make any practical research difficult. [31]

Alloplastic Architecture, 2013, Behnaz Farahi, Arduino, Kinect motion capture, SMA. © Behnaz Farahi. (Used with permission.)

Anahita Hekmat, who left Iran for art training in France, also specifies gender-specific difficulties in working with technology in Iran. She states,

“Being a woman is always an issue in Iran! In art specially there is [a] mentality like making beautiful things . . . is belonging to [a] female sphere in general. . . . Working with technology is considered as a male specialty and in general there are lots of women artists (or art students) but the contemporary art world is still a male white dominant environment. [32]

TADAEX is not the only venue for new media art that misses women artists. Saroseda, “a creative initiative which is trying to make new sonic and visual projects by integrating technology, science, interactive environments and Audio Visual programming platforms lacked women among its twenty-five male artists/groups.” [33] Even the forthcoming TEDxTehran includes only one female speaker among a group of seven men. Across the landscape of art and technology in Iran, men predominate. Nilchiani affirms,

The restrictions caused by the traditional boundaries between art, technology and related practices in Iran have culminated in cultural stereotypes that weigh more on female artists. As much as Iranian female engineers, coders and technologists are alienated from art and creative practices, Iranian female artists have been having a harder time adapting to the new trend of interdisciplinary art+tech practices, and – as the TADAEX 2012 catalog also suggests – are mostly absent from the Iranian tech+art community. . . . I believe this presents a cultural dilemma, one that is originated from the enforcement of stale traditional gender stereotypes. [34]

Education and Access for New Media Art in Iran

The rapid change from no organizations devoted to fostering new media art to several has occurred so recently in Tehran that even for artists who spent only a few years abroad, returning can be something of a shock. Sona Safaei recalls, “Even the look of the gallery spaces is becoming very similar. Like white walls, hard wood, etc. . . . I think we are globalizing but at the same time homogenizing.” [35]  Crucially, though, since art has yet to be combined with technology as a program of study in art schools or universities in Iran, artists, curators, collectors and critics necessarily have come together to facilitate access to information about how to use technology.

Some of their activity crosses national borders. As Mona Kasra explains,

Unlike the past where Iranians were deprived of latest equipments, materials or even trends, nowadays, they are equipped with the same technologies as the rest of the world. No longer needing to be approved by so and so governmental department or organizations, we’ve seen gorilla [sic] style movies, video arts, and art works that find their way outside the borders, gaining attention and admiration at prestigious festivals, exhibitions, or conferences. [36]

For example, during an October 2012 event associated with an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Shirana Shahbazi lectured on her photographic practice over the Internet, in English, with consecutive translation to Farsi, thus linking participants in Tehran and New York. The event was related to an exhibition curated by The Back Room and co-presented with Kashani of Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts in Tehran and Culture Hub in New York in conjunction with MoMA’s “New Photography 2012” exhibition.

A conversation with Shirana Shahbazi event at Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts, 2012, Sohrab Kashani, Tehran. Photo © Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts. (Used with permission.)

A conversation with Shirana Shahbazi event at Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts, 2012, Sohrab Kashani, Tehran. Photo © Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts. (Used with permission.)

Nilchiani elaborates on artists’ desire for information about technology:

This new generation of Iranian artists believe that they are entitled to, and even required to not only familiarize with the cutting edge of technological innovation, but they are enthusiastically seeking resources to learn and employ these new tools for their creative practice. In my opinion, this pivot presents a cultural subversion, one that clearly is happening from bottom-up, gradually filling a void in the Iranian dated academic art curricula. [37]

Similar themes surface in the comments of other interviewees.

For instance, an artist in Tehran says, “[O]f course digital/new media in contemporary Iranian art is quite new, but it is a growing and exciting scene where artists gain their knowledge by experimenting with new ideas. The role of information, communication and technology (which constantly changes) has given the artists new impulses to express their works with new techniques.” [38] The significance of “remotely imported knowledge” is further analyzed by Ava Ansari, who states, “I have found that many of the new media artists who reside inside Iran have educated themselves through self-experimentation, the Internet or open source resources, and private classes,  as there aren’t any interdisciplinary courses for technology and art in Iranian universities (as far as I have heard). There isn’t even a curatorial program offered. And so, most of our curators, and to be clear, we have many excellent curators, have earned their skills from their first-hand experiences or by studying abroad and then returning to Iran with these new skills as artists and curators.” [39]

Negin Moss explains that, regardless of government pressure and control, Iranian artists succeed in identifying ways to stay connected with new media art outside of Iran: “Iranian artists are responding to these extreme pressures with often remarkable ingenuity. Formal galleries continue to try to push the limits of what can be shown. We’ve also seen the emergence of underground galleries and shows, and informal networks of artists and curators such as Amirali Ghassemi being active in both formal and informal contexts. With new media, artists are creating new canvases and tools, learning to code, build their own software, and learning to leverage all the digital tools and distribution opportunities in use across the world.” [40]

Would offering new media courses at universities in Iran rebalance the current male primacy of technology-based art? Not if women would come under fire, as has recently occurred. Still, it is instructive to reflect on The Back Room’s attention to redressing a lack of education and opportunities for women to see and showcase their own new media work. Co-directed by Ava Ansari (one of the very few Iranian female curators) and Molly Kleiman, The Back Room is a curatorial and pedagogical project based in New York that aims to facilitate exchanges between artists in Iran and the United States. Together, Ansari and Kleiman developed an education program to engage remotely with participants in Iran by holding workshops, artist talks, lectures, critic sessions and studio visits.

A conversation with Shirana Shahbazi at the Back Room Project, 2012, New York. Photo © The Back Room Project. (Used with permission.)

A conversation with Shirana Shahbazi at the Back Room Project, 2012, New York. Photo © The Back Room Project. (Used with permission.)

Thus, when Shahbazi lectured on her photographic practice over the Internet from New York City to participants in Tehran, she was joined, on her right, by Ava Ansari, and on her left, Molly Kleiman and Ellie Bastani. In response to our question on the lack of artists’ access to new media technologies, theories, and resources in Iran, Ansari points out, “The response needed in respect to this problem is to find solutions, supporting men and women through educational opportunities and professional development. This is why I am so passionate about the efforts of The Back Room: we are welcoming these challenges with excitement as there are so many creative possibilities to revolutionize our mode of thinking, learning, creating, and collaborating, in Iran and outside its borders. We can work independent of the official channels, the university system, and the government-regulated spaces. We can create new communities and connections between communities of engaged artists, writers, curators, scholars, and other curious publics.” [41]

Although the question of what changes to academic curricula will mean to the Iranian new media art scene remains an important and unanswered one, one thing we hope for is an increased presence of women artists in organizing, curating, and participating in new media events there. This goal coincides with what Ansari proposes for the Back Room Project: “to create opportunities for both men and women to collaborate, work, and learn together, breaking the gender barriers constructed by any patriarchal society.” [42]


1. Robert Tait, “Anger as Iran bans women from universities,” The Telegraph, August 20, 2012,

2. Anonymous (Tehran), Anonymous (Tehran), Ava Ansari (New York), Behnaz Farahi (Los Angeles), Media Farzin (New York), Anahita Hekmat (Paris), Mona Kasra (Dallas), Ida Momennejad (Berlin), Negin Moss (New York), Sona Safaei (Toronto), Sohrab Kashani, (Tehran), Mani Nilchiani (New York).

3. Anonymous, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 16, 2013.

4. Anonymous, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 16, 2013.

5. Judy Wajcman, “Feminist theories of technology,” Cambridge Journal of Economics 34 (2010), 151.

6. Wajcman, 150

7. Wajcman, 145.

8. Betül Durmus, “Iran’s Ban on Higher Education of Women,” Turkish Weekly, August 24, 2012,

9. Haleh Esfandiari, “Why Is Iran Curtailing Female Education?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 22, 2012,

10. Victoria Nuland, “Iranian Women Excluded from Major Areas of University Study,” Press Statement, PRN: 2012/1335, United States Department of State, Washington, D.C., August 21, 2012,

11. Anonymous, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 21, 2013.

12. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

13. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

14. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

15. Wajcman, 145.

16. Wajcman, 145.

17. Tehran Annual Digital Art Exhibition, accessed January 2, 2013,

18. Ava Ansari, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 25, 2013.

19. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

20. Mani Nilchiani, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 23, 2013.

21. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

22. Ava Ansari, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 25, 2013.

23. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

24. Jennifer Way, “Back to the Future: Women Art Technology,” in Cyberfeminism 2.0 (Digital Formations Series), ed. Radhika Gajjala and Yeon Ju Oh (New York: Peter Lang, 2012), 196-221.

25. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

26. Ida Momennejad, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

27. Sohrab Kashani, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, February 9, 2013.

28. Sohrab Kashani, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, February 9, 2013.

29. Behnaz Farahi, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 15, 2013.

30. Behnaz Farahi, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 15, 2013.

31. Behnaz Farahi, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 15, 2013.

32. Anahita Hekmat, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 26, 2013.

33. “Limited Access Film Festival: Sound,” on Saroseda website, accessed January 17, 2013,

34. Mani Nilchiani, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 23, 2013.

35. Sona Safaei, Skype interview with Morehshin Allahyari and Jennifer Way, January 20, 2013.

36. Mona Kasra, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 23, 2013.

37. Mani Nilchiani, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 23, 2013.

38. Anonymous, e-mail correspondence with Jennifer Way, January 21, 2013.

39. Ava Ansari, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 25, 2013.

40. Negin Moss, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 21, 2013.

41. Ava Ansari, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 25, 2013.

42. Ava Ansari, e-mail correspondence with Morehshin Allahyari, January 25, 2013.


Morehshin Allahyari is a new media artist, art activist and educator. Born and raised in Iran, she moved to the United States during 2007. Allahyari uses technologies and media to create political and social art projects that reference historical and contemporary events in and in relation to Iran. She maintains contact with Iranian artists and co-curates art projects and exhibitions with them in Iran and elsewhere. During 2012, she collaborated with Alysse Stephanian and Sohrab Kashani at Sazmanab, a not-for-profit art space in Tehran. Allahyari’s animated films and curatorial projects receive world-wide acclaim. She has participated in exhibitions, festivals and conferences in Tehran, Denver (TEDx conference), Dallas, Chicago, New York, Germany (+ 25th European Media Art Festival), Paris, Virginia (The Taubman Museum of Art), San Francisco, Portland, Ohio, Brazil, Sweden, Iceland, Romania (Arad art Museum), Netherlands, Canada, and Marrakech. Currently, Allahyari teaches at Southern Methodist University, University of North Texas, and University of Texas in Dallas.

Jennifer Way is an American-born art historian who researches contemporary art in relation to its social and cultural contexts and historical art worlds. Often she treats methodology and theory as creative artifacts as well as interpretive components of a project. Her current research agenda encompasses three active publishing strands: American art in its social and international contexts, British and Irish art since 1949, with emphasis on ethnicity, cultural heritage, memory and internationalism and transnationalism, and art and technology. For the latter she established Women Art Technology, an ongoing project that trains students to use oral history and autoethnography to produce a digital archive of interviews with women who employ technology in any capacity in the contemporary art world. Also, she works on the American reception of Walter Benjamin’s essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” and on the topic of cybernetics and art.