Shoja Azari (b 1958, Shiraz, Iran), filmmaker, and Shahram Karimi (b 1957, Shiraz, Iran), painter, although childhood friends, first collaborated in the early 2000’s in London and New York. Their collaborative work has been featured at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City,... Read More
Shoja Azari (b 1958, Shiraz, Iran), filmmaker, and Shahram Karimi (b 1957, Shiraz, Iran), painter, although childhood friends, first collaborated in the early 2000’s in London and New York. Their collaborative work has been featured at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ (2013); with ArtAngel, London (2002); and in numerous galleries and festivals in London, Rome, Belgium, and New York. Their collaboration exploits the tension between the two media, emphasizing how one medium can, at times, overpower the other, how the two media can coexist in harmony, or even how incorporating a second medium can either bring to life a static image or enhance the visual quality of film. One of their coauthored works, their “Silence” series, uses abstract films of natural environments over hyperrealistic paintings depicting the same scenes. Azari and Karimi worked together on installations outside their co-authored works, including Blazing Grace, which addresses the Gulf War and alludes to hell and purgatory. In it, Azari reframes scenes from Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness and Karimi showcases hyperrealistic, cinematic paintings of vibrant fires, soldiers, and military tanks. Azari’s film career began in Shiraz, Iran, where he experimented with short films as a teenager, and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution involved himself in underground culture – literature, theater, and politics. After moving to New York in 1983, he received a Master’s degree in Psychology from New York University. Azari utilizes new media and film to confront themes such as gender, politics, and intercultural prejudice, mining visual culture to expose the boundaries of contemporary ideology. Azari’s work includes a series of short films, Windows (2005), which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Azari’s film Women Without Men, co-directed with his wife, Shirin Nashat, won the Silver Lion for best director at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. His work has been featured at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2012); Haus der Kulteren, Berlin (2010); ICA, London (2010); MOMA, New York (2010); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2009); and the Havana Biennial (2009). He lives and works in New York. Karimi, both painter and poet, employs an evocation of nostalgia to explore the dilemma of a bicultural Iranian subject, wedding his personal memories with a contemporary form, composing in Farsi verse as completes his paintings. Karimi’s solo exhibitions include the Museum Sieburg, Germany (1998 and 2010) and Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (2008). He has participated in group exhibitions at Chelsea Museum of Art, New York (2009); the Iranian Cultural Center, Los Angeles (2003); and the Istanbul Biennial (2003). Karimi lives and works between the United States and Germany.