We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Siah Armajani (1939-2020): An artist of public happiness

17 15 20

"The twilight zones today between art forms that were once quite distinct - painting and photography, architecture and sculpture - have been the locus of the most intriguing art produced in recent decades. And no one has mined the creative potential in these blurred boundaries more avidly than the Tehran-born, Minneapolis-based artist Siah Armajani."

This was the assessment prominent American art and architecture critic Martin Filler made in his 2002 essay on Siah (Siavash) Armajani and his work.

Armajani passed away on August 27, at his home in Minneapolis, where he had lived and worked for 60 years. He was 81.

A year before his passing, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York featured a solo show of his work, the first major retrospective celebrating his life and achievements. On that occasion, I wrote a short essay on these very pages to introduce this master artist of "blurred boundaries" to my readers. In that essay, I questioned the phrase "an aesthetic of exile" usually applied to his work, effectively alienating the artist from his home and habitat in both Iran and the United States. The legacy of Armajani's extraordinary work demands a different, more real, more meaningful language of space and belonging.

In his 2002 essay, Filler was more nuanced in marking both the US and Iran as Armajani's "spiritual homes". Like all other immigrants to the US, Armajani too had a whole world of hidden memories embedded in his artwork.

Armajani was born in Iran in 1939. In 1960, a few years after a CIA-MI6-instigated military coup overthrew Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and aborted the course of democracy in the country, his family sent the then-20-year-old artist to the US.

Once in the US, he began his studies of art and philosophy at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He soon married, settled down to work, and became a US citizen.

Today, in the troubled times of Trump's presidency, racist hacks like Stephen Miller lurking around his White House have set an entire machinery of savage cruelty against........

© Al Jazeera

Get it on Google Play