Amy Khoshbin

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Artist Statement

I create work fusing performance, video, collage, costume, and sound to uncover the external forces and tensions that generate my self-identity. These forces range from my cultural heritage and family mythology to the Western media and its profit-generating messaging. Growing up with a storytelling Iranian immigrant father put me at odds from an early age with Western media’s portrayal of Middle Easterners as the modern terrorist enemy. However, I accepted this pervasive media output when I was younger and even modeled my personal aesthetics around celebrity entertainment television, and teen magazines with articles dictating how to “be your hottest self” and the products necessary to do so. I now produce my own media and mythologies using humor and a handmade aesthetic to reveal the forces behind the construction of my identity while undermining the profit generating messaging that American audiences are accustomed to consuming.

Working with a collage-style approach across performance, video, costume making, and sound, I appropriate the language, symbols, and gestures found in Western media and weave in alternative aesthetics such as Persian miniature painting and Afrofuturist science fiction to build a new cultural whole. Influenced by the ideology of the Situationist International movement, which advocated for fighting commercial culture with its own weapons, I model this tactic in my videos and performances through co-opting popular media genres and forms such as science fiction, rap music, and YouTube advertisements and retooling them as an alternative space for the investigation of personal mythology.

In my most recent unfinished body of work, The Myth of Layla (TMOL), an episodic solo multimedia performance set in the near future when the U.S. is at war with Iran, I use my personal history as an Iranian-American activist to explore the corruption of political ideology and self-identity by participation in the celebrity-driven American media system. I act as the protagonist, an Iranian-American activist named Layla, whose relationships and beliefs are pitted against dubious external forces as her fame increases and she is cast on a new reality show called “Activists in Sexy Solidarity” (A.S.S.). Using media genres and constructions such as science fiction and the television interview as the containers of my narrative (along with their recognizable visual tropes), I build a world in both video and live context using hand-painted stop motion animation, poorly keyed green-screen video, and surreal, shoddily-crafted costumes to peel back the layers of “reality” media. I blend this handmade aesthetic with cultural and personal content such as Persian miniature paintings, video games, and footage where I perform as different characters to emphasize the fragmentation in representing self-identity across media platforms. The totality of these intermixed visual motifs form a conscious framework of representation to highlight the contrived nature of the self.

I am influenced by the aesthetics of Afrofuturism and the way in which its artists combine elements of science fiction and fantasy with non-Western cosmologies in order to achieve self-reflection on Black identity. This strategy is at work not only in TMOL conceptually and in the aesthetics of the video and costumes, but also in my science fiction-themed rap group with sound artist Michael Clemow and dancer Liz McAuliffe, C∆N-D. C∆N-D uses the popular media form of rap music to explore issues of war and being an Iranian-American female. Similar to the collage-style approach I engage in TMOL, I blend cultural and personal sonic references through sampling pop songs, referencing authors such as Octavia Butler and Philip K. Dick in my lyrics, and performing Persian-style vocalizations. Inspired specifically by the aesthetic of Sun Ra, I also create absurd gender-neutral costumes to not only challenge my female identification, but also as comic relief. Sun Ra thought avant-garde musicians typically took themselves far too seriously, and I posit that many artists do as well.

In my movement-based multimedia performance ;( with artist Liz McAuliffe, I continue to utilize humor, low-fi video and gesture as tools to interrogate the targeted consumerism of online culture and technology. Replicating a targeted YouTube advertisement as the video set, we are sucked into an anxiety-spiral where, through movement, we both battle and become the commercial demons that interrupt our lives. Stripping the video down and redrawing the aesthetic forms of a YouTube advertisement, I highlight the signification and construction of a version of self-identity through surveilled, personalized web browsing. At the end, we finally watch the video we were waiting for: a video of ourselves, thus questioning the narcissistic effect of user-generated media and the solipsistic feedback loop it creates.

In my solo multimedia episodic performance PRACTICE, I explore my family mythology as a way of understanding my own identity. I perform onstage and in video as a variety of characters ranging from my father and mother, to a televangelist yoga teacher and infomercial self-help guru. Scripted from recorded conversations with my parents about such topics as their first meeting and thoughts about the holidays, I reenact these stories—sometimes embedding them in media formats, like infomercials and exercise videos, and sometimes juxtaposing them with actual VHS home video—to explore how family narratives shape who I am. Throughout my work, I am investigating and uncovering the external structures and forces that generate my self-identity. These projects, often through co-opting popular Western media forms, are intended to help forward this line of inquiry to the viewer as well.

 

CV

www.tinyscissors.com

EDUCATION

2009 New York University, MPS Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

2003 University of Texas at Austin, BS Radio-Television-Film, BA Media Studies

SELECTED PERFORMANCES, EXHIBITIONS, SCREENINGS *denotes solo exhibitions

2015
*The Myth of Layla: Chap. 2, Dixon Place, New York, NY
RAGE/RELEASE, Dixon Place, New York, NY (Upcoming)
C∆N-D + DRELLA, River to River Festival, New York, NY
RAGE/RELEASE, performance for AUNTS event, Invisible Dog, Brooklyn, NY
C∆N-D, Radiator Arts Gallery, Long Island City, NY
C∆N-D, Pianos, New York, NY

2014
C∆N-D, JACK, Brooklyn, NY
;(, The Brick Theater, Brooklyn, NY
*Myth of Layla: Chap. 1, Eric Harvie Theatre, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada

2013
mantrap, The Glad Café, Glasgow, Scotland
Playground of Signs by Mukai Shoji, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Tracking, 168 Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2012
*PRACTICE (Chapter 3), Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Could there be an Iranian-American President? Experiment Station, Chicago, IL
And Um Yeah, Silent Barn, Brooklyn, NY

2011
You’re not brown, just tan, Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn NY
*PRACTICE (Chapter 2), Shea Stadium, Brooklyn, NY
*PRACTICE (Chapter 1), The Stone, New York, NY
*PRACTICE (Chapter 0.5), Zora Art Space, Brooklyn, NY

2010
Dream Squawk, MakerFaire, Queens, NY
Chronotronic, Monkeytown, Brooklyn, NY
One, One by One Gallery, New York, NY
Were you good at math?, Bowery Poetry Club, New York, NY

2009
Power Bike Parade, DUMBO Arts Festival, Brooklyn, NY
Power Bike Parade, Art in Odd Places Festival, New York, NY
Power Bike Parade, MMix Interactive Arts Festival, New York, NY
SHOVE: Interactive Sound Art, The TANK, New York, NY
You’re not brown, just tan, McDonough Museum, Youngstown, OH

2008
Dream Squawk, Exit Art, New York, NY
Algorithmic Sound Art, Diapason Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2007
inside/out, The Kitchen, New York, NY
Perception and Technology, The TANK, New York, NY

2006
O, Dancing Bears! Valley Forge Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Period, Blanton Art Museum, Austin, TX

2005
Laying the Foundation, South by Southwest Film Festival, Austin, TX

2004
Laying the Foundation, Cinematexas International Film Festival, Austin, TX

PRIZES AND AWARDS

2015 Finalist for Creative Capital Performing Arts Grant
2014 IDEA Grant Recipient, Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada
2007 Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Study Scholarship, NYU, New York, NY
2005 Audience Award, South by Southwest Film Festival, Austin, TX
2004 Audience Award, Cinematexas International Film Festival, Austin, TX

RESIDENCIES AND FELLOWSHIPS

2015 The Watermill Center Independent Residency, Watermill, NY (Upcoming)
2015-16 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace On-site Assistant, New York, NY
2014-15 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency, New York, NY
2014 Banff Centre for the Arts Independent Residency
2013 Team Effort! Artist Residency, Glasgow, Scotland
2010-12 Resident Artist, Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, New York, NY

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

2015
“River to River Festival Heads for a Grand Finale,” New York Times, June 25 2015

2014
“Dream Squawk,” Make: Wearable Electronics, book written by Kate Hartman
“IDEA Performances,” Documentary Broadcast on CBC in Canada, Jan 31, 2014

2012
“‘Coin Slot Detector’ Knows You’re Showing Too Much!” Glamour Magazine, Apr 2012

2010
“Power Bike Parade,” Computer Music Journal, Volume 34, MIT Press
“Nerd Art,” Documentary broadcast on RTVE in Spain, Jan 4, 2010

2009
“Dream Squawk,” ITP Book v.1, NYU Publication

2008
“Dream Squawk,” Make Magazine, Dec 2008
“Buttcrack Detector,” Craft Magazine, Oct 2008
“Butt-Crack Detector: Plumbers are hot,” Gizmodo, Oct 2008
“Perceptual Expansion Space/Suit,” Dance-Tech.net Featured Video, May 2008

2004
“East Austin Stories: Female Boxer,” Austin-American Statesman, Jun 25, 2004
“Laying the Foundation: Female Boxing,” News 8 Austin, Broadcast Jun 20, 2004

ARTIST TALKS, LECTURES, WORKSHOPS

2015 Art and Trauma Workshop with Karen Finley, Guggenheim Museum (Upcoming)
2014 Performance and Politics Lecture, Guggenheim Museum
2011 PureData Interactive Coding Workshop, Outpost Artist Resources
2009-10 Video Art Lecture Series, NYU, Tisch School for the Arts
2007-08 Video Art Course and Lecture Series, Bronx Museum of Art
2007 Semiotech: Wearable Art, Dance Across the Board Conference, NYU
2006-07 Animation Workshop, Global Action Project
2006-07 Video Production Workshop, Brooklyn College

CURATORIAL INITIATIVES

2012 little feast: Performance Festival, Cameo Gallery, New York, NY
2011 OVERNOTOVER: Performance Festival, Shea Stadium, New York, NY
2009 SHOVE: Interactive Sound Art, The TANK, New York, NY
2003 Parallax View, Cinematexas International Film Festival, Austin TX

COLLABORATIONS

2012-15 Guggenheim Museum: Orozco, Gutai, Turrell, Futurism, ZERO Video Series
2009-15 Laurie Anderson: Delusion performance, Gray Rabbit Film Series, Vivid Live
2009-15 Karen Finley, The Jackie Look Performance Video Design
2012 Tina Barney, Small Towns Video Series
2009 Anne Carson and Bob Currie, Ghosthouse Installation