Morehshin Allahyari

She Who Sees The Unknown: The Laughing Snake

Morehshin Allahyari will be presenting a performance-lecture on the story of The Laughing Snake from her She Who Sees The Unknown series in which she uses 3D modeling, digital fabrication and storytelling to re-create monstrous female/queer figures of Middle Eastern origin, using the traditions and myths associated with them to explore the catastrophes of colonialism, patriarchism and environmental degradation in relationship to the Middle East.The various ancient myths told about the Laughing Snake depict a monstrous figure (some believe an al-jinn) who has taken over a city and its lands, murdering its people and animals. Over the years there were many attempts at destroying this jinn, but none were successful.

One day, an old man living in a cave comes forth to reignite hope with a revelation: the only way to kill the snake is to hold a mirror in front of her. When people do so, and the snake sees her own image in the mirror, she starts laughing. She laughs for days and nights until she self-destructs and dies. Re-writing and re-figuring the story of The Laughing Snake, Allahyari will speak on and perform a series of personal and imagined stories in relationship to hysteria, delirium, sexual abuse, impositions of morality, and the experience of living in a female body in the Middle East, in which she reconsiders the snake’s laughter as a position of power; with her self-destruction as an act of ultimate agency over her own body and image.

Morehshin Allahyari

Morehshin Allahyari (Persian: موره شین اللهیاری‎; born 1985) is an Iranian-Kurdish media artist, activist, and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Morehshin Allahyari is a media artist and activist who uses computer modeling, 3D scanning, and digital fabrication techniques to explore the intersection of art and activism. Inspired by concepts of collective archiving and cultural contradiction, Allahyari’s 3D-printed sculptures and videos challenge social and gender norms. She wants her work to respond to, resist, and criticize the current political and cultural situation that is experienced on a daily basis. Her work has been part of numerous exhibitions, festivals, and workshops at venues throughout the world, including the New Museum, MoMa, Centre Pompidou, Venice Biennale di Archittectura, and Museum für Angewandte Kunst among many others. She is the recipient of The Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2019), The Sundance Institute New Frontier International Fellowship, and the leading global thinkers of 2016 award by Foreign Policy magazine. Her 3D Additivist Manifesto video is in the collection of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and recently she has been awarded major commissions by The Shed, Rhizome, New Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Liverpool Biennale, and FACT.