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SMRN monthly meeting of May 30, 2022: Distant Close Visions*

On May 30, 2022, SMRN had another lively meeting with a group of members, including Pantea Karimi, Paul Goodfellow, Mena El Shazly, J.R. Osborn, Nina Czegledy, Lynn Marie Kirby, Laura Marks, Juan Castrillón, Jan Hendrickse, Somayeh Khakshoor, Mansoor Behnam, Millie Chen, Junko Theresa Mikuriya, Wolfgang Weileder, Katya Nosyreva, Azadeh Emadi, Kalpana Subramanian, Carol Bier, Sheila Petty, Bahar Akgün, and our guest participant Andrea Rideout.

In the first part of this meeting, Pantea Karimi went over the works that she had been developing during her one-month artist residency at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, USA. The two site-specific bodies of work-in-progress that she presented were titled Distorted Visions and Persian Perspectives, American Wilderness. According to Pantea’s description, both of the two site-specific multimedia concepts she has been creating during her residency were a response to the tangible and metaphorical characteristics of North Adams and the greater North East. Pantea also mentions that, as an artist with roots in Persian culture, she is particularly drawn by a series of iconic and monumental works at MASS MoCA and nearby institutions and sites that address some aspects of Middle Eastern and Persian cultures. With these two bodies of work, Pantea tackles issues related to the notions of perception, seriality, grid, and the unique landscapes of the post-industrial North East. Furthermore, she believes her works address broader identity-politics issues that bring her own voice into the equation as an Iranian-American.

For more information about Pantea’s project, please follow the link below:

In the second part of the meeting, during a collective discussion, SMRN members rehearsed the SMRN method roundtable, which was supposed to be held on the first day of A Light Footprint in the Cosmos event in June 2022. 

This engaging discussion practice took place around a questioning of how far we are allowed to use a cultural product, such as a talisman image, in a context other than its production phase—the question had been raised when SMRN administrative team was deciding about whether or not it would be appropriate to choose a specific talisman image for the sake of representation and promotion of A Light Footprint in the Cosmos event. Rather than temporal and geographical dissociations that using something like an old talisman image would bring, the focus of the group discussion was whether we must be concerned about the purpose of that image’s production. The participants tried to clarify more nuanced aspects of appropriation, orientalism, and sacredness and ended the discussion by emphasizing the importance of being aware of such issues, while also being aware of the continuation of the magician/alchemist traditions in modern (art) practices and avoiding the unnecessary mystification of the ancient ones.

*This report was prepared with the help of Pantea Karimi.