Curatorial Projects > Once at Present: Contemporary Art of the Bay Area Iranian Diaspora (2019)

Once at Present: Contemporary Art of the Bay Area Iranian Diaspora

A group exhibition featuring work by Shiva Ahmadi, Sholeh Asgary, Shaghayegh Cyrous, Ala Ebtekar, Mitra Fabian, Anahita Hekmat, Kaveh Irani, Pantea Karimi, Shirin Khalatbari, Behnaz Khaleghi, Sanaz Mazinani, Mazinani/Mazinani, Nasim Moghadam, Golbanou Moghaddas, Azin Seraj, Keyvan Shovir, Cyrus Yoshi Tabar, Taravat Talepasand, Shirin Towfiq, and Shadi Yousefian

Co-curated with Taraneh Hemami

In conjunction with Forty Years & More: International Conference on Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University (March 28-30, 2019)

Sponsored by Neda Nobari Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University

March 29 - April 20, 2019
Minnesota Street Project
San Francisco, CA

2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and with it a major cultural shift inside of the country with the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The revolution and its aftermath—including the 8-year Iran-Iraq war—has subsequently lead to over three million Iranians migrating to the West with the largest populations residing in the U.S., and half of the nation's Iranians residing in California. The Bay Area has been home to an active community for over 40 years, establishing themselves in all sectors of society from politics to the arts. More recently the Bay Area has welcomed another wave of Iranian migrants following the easing of U.S. visas in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 elections in Iran. They include professionals in every field, especially many engineers recruited by Silicon Valley, and a large number of artists and cultural producers with the promise to further enrich the Bay Area arts communities as well as one of the most culturally vibrant Iranian communities outside of Iran.

Once at Present marked this historic occasion with a multi-disciplinary exhibition and programming that further explored and conveyed the multi-faceted implications of cultural diaspora through the perspective of a new generation of Iranian artists creating in the Bay Area now. Tackling broad issues of migration, memory, identity and labor, the works in this exhibition present a rich diversity of practices that inform, question and expand the notions of belonging while examining ways of being and becoming part of the Iranian Diaspora.

The exhibition was organized with the sponsorship of the newly formed Neda Nobari Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University and in conjunction with the first International Conference on Iranian Diaspora Studies, Forty Years & More, hosted by SFSU (March 28-30, 2019). Conference presentations in the arts, humanities, and social sciences offered new scholarship and research about the Iranian diaspora from a variety of perspectives. The Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies is the first and only academic institution of its kind—dedicated to research and teaching about the historical and cultural experiences of the global Iranian diaspora. The Center prepares a new generation of policy makers, business leaders, artists and cultural ambassadors to effectively understand and engage with people of Iranian heritage. The Center serves as a unique and valuable academic and cultural resource providing an innovative approach to the study of and research about Iranian diasporas and their impact on the Iranian identity.