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Yasi Alipour

YASI ALIPOUR (Columbia University, MFA 2018) is an Iranian artist/writer/folder who currently lives in Brooklyn and wonders about paper, politics, and performance. She is a teacher at Columbia University and SVA and is currently a resident at the Sharpe Walentas Studio program. For further information, please visit

Hold my hand; the ocean is marching

This collection of essays came together as I asked perhaps a simple question. How do we recognize, honor, protect, and cultivate mentorship in contemporary art? This is an urgent question for all of us that won’t fit in history books; we who make and write in a language that is not our own. Political, social, cultural, epistemological, systemic, violence has happened, is happening. The ground is shaking. I’m not unique in this. We’re surrounded by a world full of artists navigating this relation.

In Conversation

KEVIN BEASLEY with Yasi Alipour

Kevin Beasley has gained a reputation for his playful sculptures and activated sound-installations where everyday objects and dismissed voices are turned into signifiers to reflect on culture, politics, and history. A view of a landscape is a project that started in graduate school, and now, after many productive years, it is brought to the public at the Whitney Museum. Separated into three rooms—a running cotton gin motor encapsulated, an immersive sound-room dedicated to its forgotten voice, and three sculptural reliefs in the hallway that narrate Beasley’s journey—the exhibition becomes an occasion to reflect on the artist’s unique practice and his deep concerns: political, historic, and ever-so personal.

In Conversation

JANE BENSON with Yasi Alipour

Jane Benson stubbornly magnified the fake to draw attention to the shaken notion of the real. Happy Faux Flora (2002)—which would become one of the young artist’s most iconic interventions—was as captivating and contemplative as it was unsettling.

In Conversation

ALIZA NISENBAUM with Yasi Alipour

What I’m most engaged with is the process of my work; meeting new people, seeing if we can be open to each other, losing control then regaining control, and making an image somehow from the different situations I’m placed in.

In Conversation

MARK DION with Yasi Alipour

Mark Dion is an artist with a many layered practice. Rooted in deeply personal interests, it begins in the back rooms of museums and collections, grows through historic research and scientific collaboration, and comes to being with mesmerizing drawings and obsessive taxonomy.

In Conversation

Sanford Biggers with Yasi Alipour

Yasi Alipour speaks with Sanford Biggers about his exhibitions, Codeswitch and Soft Truths, the history and significance of quilts, and the mythological, biblical, and cinematic references in his works.

In Conversation

Allison Janae Hamilton with Yasi Alipour

Yasi Alipour speaks with Allison Janae Hamilton about her performance work, her family legacies, and her affection for swamp country as the artist prepares for her debut solo exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery.

In Conversation

GREGG BORDOWITZ with Yasi Alipour

Artist and activist Gregg Bordowitz speaks with Yasi Alipour about his multi-faceted practice, from political activism and protest to writing and lecture-performances.

In Conversation

HANS HAACKE with Yasi Alipour

New Museum’s Hans Haacke: All Connected finally brings to New York a comprehensive retrospective of the nearly six decades of the artist’s defiant practice. Haacke has played such a pivotal role in giving way to what we may now call political art that it is hard to believe it has taken so long. The following is a generational conversation that only became possible through his generosity.

In Conversation

CRAIG KALPAKJIAN with Yasi Alipour

Craig Kalpakjian sits with Yasi Alipour for a discussion around politics, systems, student protests, graveyard maps, and Jacques Tati’s Playtime, and much more.

SHIRIN NESHAT Facing History

“Thus we begin to catch a glimpse of the paradox of freedom; there is freedom only in a situation and there is a situation only through freedom,” said Sartre, and such is the angst that informs the work of Iran’s most celebrated artist, Shirin Neshat.

Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film

The Jewish Museum’s Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film is a simple exhibition aiming to battle an enormous subject. The artists exhibited and the tale of their failed revolution may be well known, but through its telling and retelling its narrative has become part of a simplified history. This exhibition succeeds in representing this material in a way that allows for a reconsideration of these artists and their environment, and it provides a timely opportunity to meditate on the ever-pressing subject of art, war and politics.


Nicky Nodjoumi’s exhibition, You and Me, fills two floors of the Ta ymour Grah ne Gallery. The show is made up of his familiar large paintings and a group of sketches that, taken together, represent a new iteration of old thoughts.

PHIL COLLINS How to Make a Refugee

Deep within the labyrinthine halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tucked within a makeshift darkroom, Phil Collins’s how to make a refugee (1990) asks hurried visitors to pause.

Lygia Pape A Multitude of Forms

Months of political unrest and now the question of art—its role, responsibilities, and possibilities—weighs on New York. Addressing both currents, the Met Breuer houses Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms, the first major retrospective of the artist in the United States.

Rafael Domenech: Bad infinities: laboratory of fragments

In the book Thinking: The Ruin (2010) the contemporary Lebanese writer Jalal Toufic offers a paradoxical definition of ruins as “places haunted by the living who inhabit them.” It is through this notion of ruins that he approaches his own city, Beirut, and the trauma of civil war.

SHIMON ATTIE Facts on the Ground

After twenty years of meditating on social psyches, Shimon Attie has brought the Israel/Palestine conflict to Jack Shainman Gallery. Celebrated for his experimental approach, which blurs the line between installation and photography, Attie has spent his career moving from one city to the next to explore the trauma and history of the marginalized and to reflect on social memory and the construction of identity.

Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa

But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise... fills the fourth and fifth tower levels of the Guggenheim with seductive works on paper, elaborate installations, large-scale sculptures, and magnifying videos.

I Am a Lie and I am Gold

The familiar image of Diane Arbus’s iconic twins greet viewers by the entrance. Yet something is immediately amiss—it is not a photograph but a meticulously enlarged replica of the image drawn in pencil. Daniel Davidson’s Mirror (Diane Arbus) (2015) gives the first hint at the challenges of this exhibit. Three rooms of the gallery have been packed with a wide range of work, from text-based pieces to traditional oil paintings. Although not a single photograph is on display, each artwork addresses an old concern: “How has photography influenced our perception?”

WAEL SHAWKY The Cabaret Crusades

The widely celebrated Egyptian artist Wael Shawky has finally received the attention he well deserves in America. “The Cabaret Crusades,” the artist’s most ambitious, layered, and successful work to date, is currently on view at MoMA PS1.

Letter from Tehran

Tehran is a paradox. The airplane begins its descent and the flight attendant announces, “Alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited and Islamic attire is mandatory.” Somewhere in the sky of Tehran, the silent protest of normality ends; wearing jeans and t-shirts, women give in, get up, and put their hijab on. “Welcome to the Imam Khomeini Airport.” You are officially in Iran.


Fuss—the spiritual symbolist among the non-conventional photographers—returns to New York with λόγος, an exhibition of new works exploring old thoughts. He continues to mine the space between the rational and the spiritual through the most unlikely medium: excluded, modern, mechanical, cynical, nihilist, self-negating photography.

Please Touch: Body Boundaries

A documentation of Yoko Ono performing her seminal 1964 Cut Piece lies at the center of Please Touch, Mana Contemporary’s expansive two-part exhibition on femininity, bodies, and consent. In the piece, Ono puts her body on the line, sitting solemnly on a stage, and inviting the viewers to participate in the performance by cutting off pieces of her clothing. As one observes the video, the tension grows: With each cut, the potential for violence grows. The audience members approach her with sharp scissors. With each piece of clothing taken, less and less stands between them and the artist’s skin.

Ivan Forde: Dense Lightness

Spending time with Dense Lightness, Ivan Forde’s first solo-exhibition with Baxter Camera Club of New York, is to take a journey through large-scale works on paper and fabric that echo the ancient myth of Gilgamesh.

MONIR SHAHROUDY FARMANFARMAIAN Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings 1974 – 2014

To reach Infinite Possibility, the viewer passes the Guggenheim’s permanent collection, and all of its iconic works that shape the common understanding of art history.

MARINELLA SENATORE: Piazza Universale/Social Stages

Piazza Universale/Social Stages is the first major exhibition of the Italian artist Marinella Senatore, whose work deals deep with themes important to the mission of the Queens Museum, namely: self-examination, community orientation, and political responsibility.

Hiwa K: Blind as the Mother Tongue

Hiwa K’s experimental art meditates on everyday life of his hometown, Sulaymaniya, a Kurdish city that is stuck by the border of Iran and Iraq—historically burdened by the turmoil of two oppressive nation-states yet robbed of its own nationhood.

In Conversation

Julie Mehretu with Yasi Alipour

As inspiration, I’ll focus on three subjects that you have been mentioning in the past years: music, revolution, and failure. Starting with music, I want to hear your thoughts on Nina Simone’s “Flo Me La” (1960). You have a painting from 2017–2018 that carries the same title. The three utterances “Flo-Me-La” become the whole lyrics for Nina Simone.

In Conversation

Dorothea Rockburne with Yasi Alipour

I entered Dorothea Rockburne’s studio; I am an artist sitting in front of an artist I admire. I had never met her before. Yet, she’s always been a mentor, even as I only knew her through her work.

In Conversation

Rirkrit Tiravanija & Tomas Vu with Yasi Alipour

The following narrative is made of conversation fragments stitched together—an attempt to capture a day. This is how conversations often happen: hours pass, we talk about everything and nothing, our voices move in and out of focus. It was a Thursday, like many others. I start my day teaching a six-hour class. Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tomas Vu, collaborators and co-conspirators, began this conversation over a game of golf. Me and my voice recorder entered the scene long after the game ended. It took a few train rides and an uber to find the two deep in Long Island.

Journey to the South:
Makan Ashgvari’s To Trucks

Behind all the news headlines, life in Iran is becoming increasingly difficult to grasp.

To All the Pomegranates We Lost Along the Way

On yet another miserably freezing Monday evening, I searched between the identical buildings of New York’s most iconic university, NYU, to find the department that was designated to observe, study, and understand my home region—the unsolvable knot of the world—the Middle East.

Nicolò Degiorgis, Hidden Islam

It was a simple formal email, received among hundreds more like it, sent to thousands like me: “Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation are pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 edition of the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards.” The right dose of curiosity and boredom made me continue reading. But only upon seeing the title of the award-winner, Hidden Islam, did I become fully alert.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues