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Tannaz Motevalli

Nominated by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 2 and a half and my child-mind immediately equated that to a false understanding of my body, that no matter what I did, my body had a mind of its own which could not be negotiated with. How I came to being an artist is muddy, a fuzzy memory that alters in each retelling. All I can say is art began as a way for me to forget about my body, only to have it lead me back. Over time, my practice has gone from a form of escaping and further removing myself from my body, to confronting it and learning how to traverse everything my body contains – my femaleness, my queerness, my illness, my non-whiteness, etc. It is a slow process, acquainting myself with myself.

I want to make work like an alchemist – agitating my material until it bends, breaks, and transforms; its transformation revealing its truth, or truths. I want to make work that is revelatory, over time. Inherent to the passing of time and the living of one’s life, I want to make work that is never static and always malleable.

Failure, the ultimate disruption of limitations we put on the human body and human life, serves as an incubator for my work. It is not necessarily failure itself that I am interested in, but rather the logic that allows failure to exist – the assumption that failing cannot be a place of success, productivity, or revelation, and thus could not possibly be natural. I’m interested in renegotiating what is success, what is productivity, what can be revelatory, and what can be complete(d).In my work on the technologically mediated body, the reproducing body, and the chronically ill body, the futility of human experience is redirected to remove ideas of normalcy from a lived vocabulary; or rather suggest that normalcy itself is futile.

Image: Gently Off the Ground, performance, 2018

Resident year: 
2018
Cohort Group: 
Artist Resident