Eric Parnes

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Eric Parnes
Eric Esmail Parnes Neo Orientalist.jpeg
Neo Orientalist™ (2011)
Born 1979 (1979)
Nationality United States
Education NYU
Known for Mixed Media, Sculpture, Painting, Photography, Installation art
Notable work(s) 'Neo Orientalist™', 'World Trade Center'

Eric Parnes (also known as Eric Esmail Parnes) (Persian: اریک اسماعیل پارنسی) (born 1979) is an American Iranian contemporary artist based in New York City. His work consists of mixed media, sculptures, paintings, photography, and installation art. He uses well-known logos and corporate branding in his art in order to examine Middle Eastern culture and its relationship to globalization.

Early life[edit]

Parnes grew up in New York. He received an undergraduate degree and a Master of Arts from New York University.


Parnes has created multimedia works which aim to incorporate his cultural and ethnic heritage as an American of Iranian descent. He explores the use of Oriental imagery in both the West and the East and in both the past and the present. Elements found in Parnes' art include: ancient and modern history; mysticism; war; and fashion. He alters the context of the logos of corporate brands, such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Ferrari, Puma, Citibank, Subway, and Burger King. He does this to express a view of corporate influence and how its relationship with traditional cultures has developed.[1]


Parnes focuses on brand infiltration of the cultural landscape, particularly in the Orient while stating he does not condemn nor support such change. He seeks to redefine orientalism (depiction of Middle Eastern cultures by Western artists). Parnes has registered the term neo orientalist as his trademark. He said,

"You really do see men in dishdashas smoking and wearing Nike sneakers...and they’re probably wearing Versace underwear beneath it all.”[1]


World Trade Center project[edit]

"World Trade Center" (2001)

World Trade Center (2001), is created with rubble from the World Trade Center. The work appeared on the cover of the online edition of The New York Times.[2] In September 2011, World Trade Center was displayed in the lobby of the The New York Times Building as part of The New York Times 10-year memorial exhibition of the destruction of the World Trade Center.[3][4]

I Dream of Jeannie: I See Demons[edit]

I See Demons #1 (2012).

In 2012, The Galleries, Katara Cultural Village, West Bay, Doha and The Pearl, Qatar invited Parnes to create an installation for the I Dream of Jeannie: I See Demons exhibition. Through mediums including sculpture, photography and paintings, Parnes reintroduces the subtle Middle Eastern origins of I Dream of Jeannie, the American television situation comedy. The name of the television program is a play on the French word "genie", derived from the Arabic word Jinn (a supernatural being. The Jinn, mentioned in the Quran, is identified with mischief-making and trouble-doing. A Persian translation of I Dream of Jeannie is "I See Demons." [5]

'Custodian of Vacancy: The Iranian Embassy in the USA'[edit]

Empty Seat at Embassy Row (2013).

In December 2013, the Ayyam Gallery premiered at their DIFC location in Dubai an exhibition of Eric Parnes' photographs of the remaining interiors of the Former Embassy of Iran in Washington, D.C.[6] The building has been, and still is, shuttered and inaccessible in over three decades since its closure circa 1979-1980 with the Iranian Revolution and the resulting severance of dialogue with the United States. Parnes' imagery showcases the remaining visual legacy of the Embassy, renown for its active social presence in the 1960s and 1970s as an immensely popular party destination in Washington, D.C. under the leadership of then-Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi. Frequent political and celebrity guests included Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Andy Warhol.[7]Barbara Walters wrote: "The number one embassy when it came to extravagance and just plain enjoyment was the Iranian Embassy." [8] Parnes' stylized photographs, on the other hand, now show an empty, dark building yet that still holds remarkably preserved elements of elaborate Persian mosaics and mirrored rooms amidst the general decay.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Middle East meets Western brands: NYC artist employs luxury brand logos to make a geopolitical statement." AdWeek Magazine, July 8, 2011. Accessed July 17, 2012.
  2. ^ "The reckoning: a special report on the costs and consequences of 9/11." The New York Times, September 8, 2011. Accessed July 18, 2012.
  3. ^ "The New York Times building to host gallery of reflection for Sept. 11." Reuters, August 25, 2011. Accessed July 18, 2012.
  4. ^ "Eric Parnes’s 9-11 piece." The Understanding Campaign. Accessed July 20, 2012.
  5. ^ "I Dream of Jeannie: Eric Parnes at Doha’s Katara Cultural Village." Reorient magazine, June 21, 2012. Accessed July 17, 2012.
  6. ^ Harris, Gareth (December 16, 2013). "A look inside Iran’s sealed embassy in Washington, DC: Photographs by Eric Parnes taken in the abandoned building are on show in Dubai". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bahrampour, Tara (December 8, 2013). "Iranian Embassy, shuttered for decades, was known for hedonistic, star-studded gatherings". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ Walters, Barbara. "Audition: A Memoir", pp. 31-40. Random House, 2009. ISBN 0-307-27996-0.
  9. ^ "Iranian American Artist Revisits Hedonistic D.C. HQ" FishbowlNY magazine, December 17, 2013. Accessed December 27, 2013.

External links[edit]