• Halal

    Ceramics and LED Light. Racism shapes the very words our politics speak today, and it underlies a broader history of exclusion in the U.S that many Americans overlook. That history also shapes Trump’s tweets and some responses to them, and it raises the question of who gives permission, the right for one to stay or leave. I am using soil from Chautauqua to create a plate. I dug the clay with my own hands, and I prepared and fired it to serve a meal. There is nothing more genuine, more indigenous than this. But now I feel compelled to ask: “Is this Halal (according to Sharia)? Is this permitted?” Who am I to touch this earth? Who am I to shape it in my own way? Do I even have a right to stand on the ground from which this came? Why am I even asking these questions? Who gets to decide this, anyway? This work is a response to the "Go Back to Your Country".
    24” x 24” x 8”  |  2019

  • Imagined Boundaries: Episode II (Miscommunication Alert)

    9 Channel Video Installation, Part of “The Overview Effect” Exhibition. In the year in which we celebrate a half-century of Mankind’s achievements in space, it is important to assess what we have or have not accomplished on earth. Ironically communication from the earth to a few brave souls across the silence of space is often easier than communication from one country to another. Frank White’s term, the ‘overview effect’, characterizes the way in which political borders and other boundaries that are so obvious on earth seem insignificant, if not imperceptible at a distance, and the environment that unites all creatures on earth is a capsule of precious resources that enable all to survive. The imperative of that interdependence should alert us to moments of miscommunication, mistrust, and conflict that consume the time and space of our political and social lives close up and at a distance. The work exposes the nature (and absurdity) of social and personal awareness -- the awareness of self and awareness of others -- in the environment of international politics that filters human interaction around the world. Please see the artwork: https://vimeo.com/374302996 and https://vimeo.com/374076747
    21’ x 4’ x 10”  |  2019

  • The Inh(a/i)bited Space

    Multimedia Installation, Ceramic Vessels, Wire, and Sound. The Inh(a/i)bited Space invites the viewer to delve into the artist’s personal recollections of senses, sound, and space. Her handmade vessels of memory, which present site-specific sound-bites, confront the paradox of inhibited and inhabited space in the wake of current socio-political immigration policies. The vessels with wires leading from one to the other, like the rhizomatous structure, collectively perform a symphony of melodic and ambient sound. The installation disrupts the viewer’s sense of utopia with the rhetoric of the travel ban and its progeny: disorientation, anxiety, and psychological displacement. Please see: https://vimeo.com/289795004
    14’ x 4’ x 8’  |  2018

  • A Symmetrical Despondency

    Multimedia Installation, Ceramic Vessels, and Video. Lips, telling silent stories, and Jars muffling sounds in an asymmetrical environment reminiscing a handmaid tale. In the wake of the concurrent immigration issues in the United States and the Middle East, the artist portrays the labors of female individuals passing through the rampage, by telling stories in an unconventional way: A poem recounted in two tongues of the artist’s homelands (Iran and U.S.A), with two jars disclosing the tale only if the lids are removed; resembling the timeworn daily news on TV, disregarded and ignored. Would language change the essence, the sensation of the anecdote? Or would it overcome the imposed geographical barriers, which alienate nations? Please see: https://vimeo.com/301391437
    10’ x 8’ x 12”  |  2018

  • Imagined Boundaries

    Multimedia Installation, Iran and the United States. On Friday, October 6, 2017, two parallel art shows, one in Iran and the other in the United States, worked to build a culture of communication through art. Each one was called ‘Imagined Boundaries’, and they opened at the Abad Gallery in Tehran, Iran, and Art and Culture Center of Hollywood in Florida. Each was the product of several months of preparation and they stood along the boundary that has separated two worlds in space and time. At each location, there was a series of boxes in a collage-like composition. Some of the boxes contained video screens that show people looking out at the viewer. In Florida, the people looked out were Iranians, while in Iran the people looked out were Americans. Like the artist, one must position oneself at this boundary and ask oneself questions about the members of the socio-political and cultural group on the other side. Who are they? What are they thinking? Do I see myself in or among them? Through this work, the artist challenged the viewer to set aside political arguments and see the basic humanity that is in all of us. The artists sought to challenge the very notion of social and political boundaries and encourage the viewer even to cross physical boundaries, in order to experience the reality on the other side. The elegance of this installation is to make homage to the spirit of interfaith and intercultural dialog that was promoted by Safa Khaneh Community in Isfahan in Iran in 1902. Please see: https://vimeo.com/286701862
    Size varied  |  2017

  • Diphtheria

    Multimedia Installation, Ceramic Objects, and Sound. Constricted. Wanting to speak but barely uttering more than an eerie sound. Silenced, most women of the world are not allowed to express themselves fully, in a free way. Like diphtheria, which spreads through the air and through direct social contact, efforts to limit free speech begin to take hold from within. The installation is a metaphor for all forbidden voices around the world and throughout history. Women in the Middle East, in particular, struggle to make themselves heard, but with great difficulty as if stricken by this terrible disease. Is there no vaccination that could protect society from such a malady? Freedom of speech thrives through daily exercise in a healthy political environment. Please see: https://vimeo.com/213479577
    12’ x 4’ x 3’  |  2017

  • Aural Topography - Bazaars

    Walk, Sound, Photography, Ongoing Project, Since 2015, this project is the development of an understanding of place in terms of sound. In the same way that physical topography records and analyses the way that land goes up and down, the way that one can move from enclosed to open areas, the way that landforms shape our experience of the world, aural topography enhances physical space and makes shapes of its own in our minds. The depth to which aural topography reaches is in many ways more profound than that of the land, insofar as it can cut across time through memory and it can trigger feelings and emotions that are part of our rapport not only with a place but also with people, animals, plants, the wind … that run across it. Sounds can be made by people and things that we know, but their origins may also come from people and things that are unfamiliar. I explore aural topography by walking. It is the physical connection with the place, the kind of foot-to-the-ground connection that cannot be made from a moving vehicle, which brings me in contact with sound. I seek to record and experience sounds and to observe how a place creates, shapes, and offers sound to those that pass through it. I seek to understand how the fabric of sound clothes the spirit of the place, and how both sound and ground bring joy to the freedom of movement. Please see: https://vimeo.com/286991147
    Varied  |  2015

  • “Fragile, Please Handle with Care”

    Ceramic Vessels, Packaging Materials, Video, and Performance. Ten ceramic vessels literally traveled from one part of the world to another -- from the United States to Iran. They traveled just like people do every day, and each one has a story to tell, a story that is told in form and transformation due to movement and chance events. Some vessels show their fragility openly, others hide it, and the degree to which each is fragile varies. Through their movement, handling, and their ultimate resilience or fragility they arrive in the state in which they are seen. How are we to judge the objects on display – those that are there, those that were intended to be there, those that arrived in the same state that they started, and those that were ‘damaged’ or ‘transformed’ along the way? The answer may seem easy, when it concerns just vessels -- we applaud the lack of damage; we pity a piece that is broken -- but when we carry the metaphor further to people, what should we do? The current state of refugees around the world offers a case in point. Some people travel of their own volition; many now are moving because they have no choice. Where they will end up and how they will be treated along the way remain unknowns. Ceramics have a lot to teach us about ourselves so please handle them with care -- they have come such a long way. Please see: https://vimeo.com/374572116
    Varied  |  2016

  • Only Sound Remains

    Multi-Media and Interactive Installation (Ceramic Objects, Video, Sound, Poetry) The installation is a metaphor for the way in which we experience the world. The vessels represent the selection of experiences represented by sounds that may or may not be fully understood. The viewer must wait to enter the ‘sub-conscious’ of this installation in order to probe it by placing an ear next to the vessels in order to find some inner meaning. Only Sound Remains has permitted me to create and use a voice that goes beyond immediate media stereotypes of ceramic and other crafts, in order to articulate a deeper meaning. It engages audiences from different cultural backgrounds, and it functions as the cultural bridge that I have always strived to build between my culture of origin and the culture that I am a part of now. Please see: https://vimeo.com/132044480
    14’x 8x’, 12’  |  2014

RAHELEH FILSOOFI Representation Website CV

Nashville, TN | Sculpture, Mixed Media, Photography, Printmaking, Time-based, Sound, Performance, Installation
Bio:

Raheleh Filsoofi is a multi-disciplinary artist based in the United States and Iran. Her work synthesizes socio-political statements as a point of departure and further challenges these fundamental arguments by incorporating ancient and contemporary media such as ceramics, poetry, ambient sound, and video; aiming for a holistic sensory experience. Her interdisciplinary practices act as interplay between the literal and figurative contexts of border, immigration, and inter-cultural communications. She is an active participant in juried art exhibitions both in Iran and the United States, including the solo exhibition ‘Imagined Boundaries’- a multimedia digital installation on border issues, consisting of two separate exhibitions debuted concurrently at Florida Cultural Consortium and Abad Art Gallery in Tehran (2017); ‘Dual Frequency’ group exhibition at The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida (2017) and a Solo Exhibition ‘On Transcending the Inhibited Space’ at O’kane Gallery in Houston (2018). Her most recent multifaceted, self-curated art exhibition ‘Fold: Art, Metaphor and Practice’- which engaged over 20 artists, scholars, and educators - has been the capstone of her professional artistic career. She has been the recipient of various grants and awards such as the prestigious South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual and Media Artists funded in part by the National Endowment for the Art. She is an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Vanderbilt University at the Department of Art. She holds an M.F.A. in Fine Arts from Florida Atlantic University and a B.F.A. in Ceramics from Al-Zahra University in Tehran, Iran.

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Statement:

Through my years of multi-disciplinary practice, I’ve managed to keep pace with the rapidly changing socio-political debates around the world and their relative expansive influences on human conditions. Immigration, borders, and cultural communications are today’s most fundamental discourses which are immensely interwoven with notions of identity, belonging and inhabitation. Therefore, art could be an intermediary language shared between individuals, nations, and cultures, addressing these issues by touching the innermost layers of personality.

I’ve utilized different aesthetic strategies by experimenting with materials with wide ranges of relevant applications to my subject matters such as ceramics, poetry, ambient sound, and video, with a focus on representations of the ways I have negotiated and accessed concepts of heritage, place of origin, orientation and cultural adaptability. My multimedia installations root deeply in my cultural background and acquired a new identity as an immigrant; aiming to challenge the viewer’s standard point of view and personal perspectives. These interactive pieces invite the onlooker to delve into my own personal recollections of sense, sound, and place; mementos of my journeys across the national and international borders.

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