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Iran Meets The United States: Morehshin Allahyari

by Mashal Noor 11 Sep 2014 4:21 PM

This week, Frame of Mind will be featuring 3 filmmakers, including Morehshin Allahyari. Her film, The Romantic Self-Exiles, explores the ideas that concern issues of home, space, diaspora, and our relationships as humans to our surroundings.


Last week, we kicked off the Frame of Mind series on KERA TV with Mark Birnbaum’s documentary, Swingman.   Tune in to KERA TV at 10 tonight. This week, we will be featuring works by three different filmmakers:

  • Vincent Valdez: Excerpts for John by Mark and Angela Walley, which follows Vincent Valdez, an artist, as he created a series of works dedicated to his childhood best friend, John Holt Jr.
  • Cielo Lindo by Iris Lopez which tells the story of a homeless young girl who uses her imagination to cope with her hunger and harsh reality
  • The Romantic Self-Exiles by Morehshin Allahyari which explores the idea of home, space, architecture, and our memories of them.
Photo: Morehshin Allahyari

Photo Credit: Morehshin Allahyari


Morehshin Allahyari was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States in 2007.  She is a new media artist and art activist, who works with 3D animation, digital filmmaking, performance, and much more.


I spoke with Morehshin about her work, The Romantic Self-Exiles:


On the background of The Romantic Self-Exiles:

The Romantic Self-Exiles was my creative research for my M.F.A. art show and thesis. I was really interested in exploring ideas that concern issues of home, space, diaspora, and our relationship as humans to our surroundings; mostly architectural spaces around us and our memories of them.

It came from thinking about the concept of exile and self-exile and trying to address and also question the romanticization of the experience of exile. I think when you live in diaspora, you continue to feel nostalgic about your past, memories, the place once you belonged to or called home. But I also wanted to be aware of this fact.. of this nostalgia and romantic thoughts/feelings that made me forget about other details that in firs place forced me to leave my country. So The Romantic Self-Exiles is both an awareness and exploration of all these feelings.

The Romantic Self-Exiles

Photo: Morehshin Allahyari

On creating the work:

 It’s interesting to look back at this piece after two years… when I was working on creating this work, I had no idea what the outcome would be… I was writing and at the same time creating these different 3D scenes. So I constantly went back and forth between writing and working on my animation. I looked for images and focused on places or objects that meant something special to me and then used those in my animation scene. I never have a structure or specific plan on where my work will go or how it will end. I have a general image and feeling in my mind and I let the process of creation to take over. I love leaving room for surprises and allow the process of my work to direct me.

The Romantic Self-Exiles

Photo Credit: Morehshin Allahyari

On her biggest challenge:

I think the emotional side of it was what I struggled with the most. It was hard for me to go through all of these feelings and thoughts about diaspora while consciously trying to stay away from dramatizing the situation. I think being aware about that and also sharing and talking about my work with my friends and mentors helped a lot in overcoming this challenge.

On her favorite Texas filmmaker:

Michael A. Morris is my favorite.

On her future projects:

Photo Credit: Morehshin Allahyari

Photo Credit: Morehshin Allahyari

A lot is happening since I have moved to California. I just had an exhibition at Southern Exposure gallery where I created a new work about the 2009-2010 protests in Iran called #AsYouScrollDown. More information here.

I am going to start working on a new series of animation/narrative based works, aesthetically similarly to The Romantic Self-Exiles I, but different concepts/topics. I am really excited to continue to push the limitations and also possibilities of experimental 3D animation and rendering.

Here is a list of upcoming and the most recent shows:

On KERA broadcasting her work:

I am honored to continue working with Dallas Video Festival. Although I have moved from Dallas, I am really happy that I can stay in touch and continue working with Texas based artists, galleries, festivals, and curators.

You can find Morehshin’s other work on her website.