Art + Activism with Sanaz Mazinani | KQED Arts

Art + Activism with Sanaz Mazinani | KQED Arts


[ Bongo drums beating
rhythmically ] -The significance of identity becomes as important
as the work. Not how it reflects physically
in the way that we make art, but the perspective
from which we come. Hi. I’m Sanaz Mazinani, and
we’re here today in my studio. I came into the arts
from a background where I was, like,
very interested and engaged in political activism and social-justice causes. The work that I make
takes images from, for example, the Internet, online sources
such as Google searches, Facebook, or news media sites
that are really popular and deal with issues
around war and conflict, and then I look
at those pictures, and kind of evaluate them
and think about them and re-juxtapose them
and make collages — kaleidoscopic,
visual kind of images that come together,
that speak about these issues. So, what I bring
to each and every project is this kind of questioning about
what is the world like today and how there might be a
potential for growth or change. The project
that we’re working on here today is called threshold, and it includes 12 wall panels,
all mirrored, and a large 8×8 sculpture that’s gonna be in the center
of the room surrounded
by the mirrored panels. The sculpture itself
is gonna have the same surface, and the holes are gonna allow you
to see through the piece while, simultaneously, you’re being reflected
on the piece. So, the patterns that are used
in the mirrors are all inspired
from my own personal heritage. I was born in Iran
and really inspired by the Islamic ornamentation
that persists there. And the kind of centerpiece
of the whole installation is going to be
these four panels of video that’ll be against
the back wall. They’re actually clips taken from 11
different Hollywood movies where I pulled
the explosion parts. And they kind of follow
one another, one after another. And I was really interested
in this kind of — the power,
the pull of the sublime, and the darkness
of this destructive force that we, as humans,
kind of might relate to. And I want to place it
in the center of the space so that when you are
walking through, you’re seeing yourself
reflected, but simultaneously seeing these shards and bits
of the video, as well. I really would love for people to have
an experience in the space where they kind of see kind of
the multiples of a perspective. Everyone is very complicated
and complex and has
these amazing relationships. So the space creates a place where you can approach
the same thing from multiple points of view. I like to use images
in pop culture because it’s what we face
every day. We as humans
are such visual creatures, and we mediate through the world
through image, and the way that we experience
how life might be elsewhere, somewhere
that we’ve never visited. Perhaps, what is the world like
in Iran or in the Middle East? It’s told to us through
these narratives through images. And so this is why
I think that it’s important to weave that
back into my work for me, so that I can remind myself about how much is kind of
constructed in this world. Art is incredibly important. No matter how it’s formed,
what shape it takes, making art is bringing
something to the world. So, whether it’s abstract and you just make a mark
on the wall, a single line
is a process of giving. You know,
it’s not really consuming. And so that’s why I really love
making work, because it allows
spaces for conversation, creates forums for exchange.

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