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Home Studio with Bahar Behbahani


Bahar Behbahani, River Goddess, work in progress, 2020.

Bahar Behbahani, River Goddess (detail), work in progress, 2020.

How have you been?


Pandemic is not a phenomenal experience for many of us. Being isolated and alienated is not a foreign feeling. Fighting for the basic right is not a new struggle. It mirrors our political, economical and individual’s fraught histories. 


Quarantine time has been like a magnifier. It helped me to see everything more clearly. Therefore, the pain is magnified too. It has been the time to reflect on the fundamental issues and injustice. I looked back to some of my oldest works. I made my video Saffron Tea about 10 years ago. Today I’m thinking about how familiar I am with the feeling of “quarantine”. Unites States sanctions against Iran for all these years have put the country and people in quarantine in a larger platform. 

These days when I’m listening to people complaining about not being able to travel, I immediately think about all of us affected by travel ban imposed by Trump since 2017.

I was 7 when I learned the word Curfew. I never forget those moments, and the anxiety that would come with the flashlight spotting to our car under the name of safety. The army, the police, the brutality became my first grade underground vocabulary. 

As a transplanted artist, I know how to resist and thrive under the harsh climate. A part of me is also very excited that this is the time when other people in the world might become more understanding and empathetic, now that they go through some uncomfortable and unwanted feelings and rules. 

The ground is ready to seed plants together.

What are you working on?

Just before the pandemic I created my first two public projects. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been walking everyday, it’s the ritual and the process of my work. I don’t use public transportation. I walk to my studio everyday. And, in the meantime, I am working on a large series of paintings to feel the tactile dimensions in my self-quarantined time. I also spend a lot of time contemplating, and preparing another public artwork as part of my Creative Capital grant. It’s going to be a very active garden, beautiful, with the design and philosophy of a Persian garden. The garden will serve as a backdrop for painful conversations, as a soothing platform to understand others’ stories better. I see a garden as a place of resistance, and a plant as a parallel way of living.

Instagram: @baharbehbahani

Interview conducted by Klaudia Ofwona Draber.


Bahar Behbahani, images from the studio of Garden Coup (A book on CIA report), 2020.


Bahar Behbahani, images from the studio of Garden Coup (A book on CIA report), 2020.

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