By Steven Adamo
Who Sings the Nation-State? Is the latest exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Shagha Ariannia that focuses on her life as an immigrant.
In the exhibition, Ariannia uses paintings and a video installation to share her observations and experiences an Iranian immigrant.
Ariannia’s family waited a decade before immigrating to the United States in 2001, one week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After a temporary restriction of air travel following the attack, Ariannia’s family was one of the first allowed into the United States.
“Ariannnia was a teenager during this transition and it had an impact on the dream of immigration versus the reality of immigration,” Vincent Price Art Museum Director Pilar Tompkins Rivas said.
Rivas added that the reoccurring theme of the exhibition is the collective idea of nationhood and the two nationstates (emotional and mental states). The paintings are influenced by the theme of “ double consciousness” — an idea published by William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois in 1903’s
“The Souls of Black Folk.” Du Bois described the difficulty of assimilating into a n American culture that historically devalues African-Americans. Rather than having a unified sense of self, consciousness is fragmented and is focused on how they are perceived by other people.
The video portion of the exhibition will premiere at the opening reception. It’s inspired by a scene in the 1933 French featurette “Zero for Conduct” (Zéro de Cwonduite). Shortly after its premiere, it was banned until February of 1946 for promoting rebellion.
The film tells the story of four young boys who stand up to authority and injustice in their school. To recreate the scene , Ariannia made a casting call to her community and hired girls from immigrant and other diverse backgrounds to be featured in the film. The title of the exhibition is taken from the book of the same name by Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak, published in 2007.
“Statelessness” is a popular theme in the book and is defined as a person not recognized as a citizen of any country. In the book, Butler and Spivak say that the topic is hardly mentioned in academia.
Tompkins Rivas said that since the book’s publication in 2007, it’s still not being discussed. Arianna holds a Master’s of Fine Arts from CalArts and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine.
Last year she received the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists. She has previously exhibited her work around Los Angeles and Galore der Hochschule in Braunschweig, Germany.
The opening reception is this Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Hoy Space at the VPAM. The exhibition will show until June 10. For more information, visit www.vincentpriceartmuseum. org.