In 2012 Meulensteen presented Yeki Bud, Yeki Nabud, an exhibition of new work by Katayoun Vaziri. Featuring drawings, paintings, prints and video work, this exhibition marks the artist’s second show with the gallery. Born and raised in Iran and based in New York, Vaziri draws on a wide range of cultural references to question to question the linearity of political and social narratives. In her most recent body of work, Vaziri critiques the arbitrariness she perceives in contemporary politics. She begins by making drawings that combine elements from various sources, including news media, advertisement, Iranian nationalist posters, photographs by others taken of her, and references to modern painting (particularly the work of Frank Stella and David Salle). After scanning the drawings, the artist manipulates them digitally, sometimes inviting friends to collaborate at this stage. Vaziri subjects her original source material to a series of actions and changes in medium in order to blur the distinctions between the private and public realms and to question the originality of ideas and the political currency of images. For the video piece “Yeki Bud Yeki Nabud,” Vaziri filmed one of her drawings in a single static shot. The words of the title (Farsi for “One was, one was not,” the traditional opening of Persian fairytales) repeat while a blank square moves across the screen, pulsating on and off. The drawing illustrates an imagined encounter between the artist and Barack Obama, in which she is poised to apply lipstick to the President’s mouth. The juxtaposition of her gleeful expression with his pensive one heightens the sense of absurdity, stressing the nebulous nature of socio-political discourse. Vaziri received an MFA from Yale University in 2009 and a BFA from Tehran University in 2005. Her work has been featured in exhibitions in San Francisco, London, and Dubai. She has held residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 2010 and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts in Ithaca, New York in 2011. She has co-curated a number of exhibitions and screenings, including “Handheld History” at the Queens Museum of Art in 2010. In addition to her artistic practice, Vaziri reports on the arts in New York for BBC Farsi.
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