Made in Iran, Born in America

Today, from our friends at REORIENT, we bring you Joobin Bekhrad’s interview with artist Taravat Talepasand, aka TVAT. They discuss Talepasand’s recent show at San Franciscos Guerrero Gallery, Made in Iran, Born in America, the use of drugs in her work, and her love of Iran. The artist says, “Take your definition of ‘Orientalism’, which I find offensive, and see if you can create art that is as conceptually profound and technically on-point as mine. I am here to make Iran in vogue, and I think I have, along with you, Joobin, and Hushidar Mortezaie.” This article was originally published on May 2, 2017.

Taravat Talepasand. Iran, Iran, Iran, Iran (detail); 2017. Metal, rope, denim, pigment, hand match patches, assorted pins, iPhone 7 plus. Collaboration with Laura Rokas.

Taravat Talepasand and Laura Rokas. Iran, Iran, Iran, Iran (detail); 2017; metal, rope, denim, pigment, hand match patches, assorted pins, iPhone 7 plus.

JB: “Made in Iran, born in America”—that’s been your motto for quite some time now. How has Iran made you, despite having lived almost all of your life in the States?

TT: I have been harassed almost all of my life for not being Iranian, as I wasn’t born in Iran. This surprised me, since as a child I had resented being Iranian only because I was growing up in a predominantly white, Republican, suburban, racist town in Portland. Never did I think I wasn’t Iranian; when you stepped inside my house, there was a constant smell of sabzi and fresh tea (smuggled from Esfahan) that was always brewing, and the sounds of Googoosh and Ebi.

Iran has shaped who I am, as a human being and particularly as a woman, since I did not want to live in post-Revolution Iran, just like my mother and other female relatives didn’t. Literally, I was made in Iran, as I was conceived in Esfahan, and was born in America in 1979, the year that marked the formation of the Islamic Republic. My parents and family in Esfahan have shaped me, but it was my own decision to embrace my heritage and give respect to a country that is full of the most inspirational art, culture, food, music, and language, which have all informed my work and allowed me to embrace the outer skin and inner fire defining me as an Iranian-American.

Read the full article here.