Bessma Khalaf


Now showing at Steven Wolf Fine Arts Gallery in San Francisco is Bessma Khalaf’s exhibition, You’re Not There. The show is comprised of five pieces: three individual video installations and two works that reference them. In Projection (2009), the viewer is lured into a lackadaisical daze by warm and fuzzy landscape imagery, only to be immediately jolted back out of it as a fist punches through the screen from the other side. In Monument (2009), the artist films herself sitting atop an ice sculpture in the shape of a horse, maintaining a hero pose as it melts under the California sun. Monument serves as the main illustration of Khalaf’s oeuvre and her negotiation of the space between the culture from which she originates from and her adopted one. Within this undefined region, Khalaf explores a variety of themes and issues along the way such as military exaltation, American consumerism, global warming, industrial pollution, identity politics and the spirit world. Nothing is taken for granted as she searches for understanding using her dual heritage as her lens.


Bessma Khalaf was born in 1978 in Baghdad, Iraq and moved to San Diego, California just before the first Gulf War. She received her MFA in Photography from the California College of Art in 2007 and has exhibited in multiple galleries around the Bay Area including Ping Pong Gallery and Arts Benicia Gallery. This is her first one-person exhibition at Steven Wolf Fine Arts. Khalaf currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.