Morehshin Allahyari

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Morehshin Allahyari
موره شین اللهیاری
Morehshin Allahyari (44770813361).jpg
Morehshin Allahyari

1985 (age 35–36)
Alma mater
Known for3D Printing, New Media Art, Additivism
Notable work
Material Speculation: ISIS
MovementConceptual, Additivism, New Media Art

Morehshin Allahyari (Persian: موره شین اللهیاری‎; born 1985) is an Iranian media artist, activist, and writer, based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work questions current political, socio-cultural, and gender norms, with a particular emphasis on exploring the relationship between technology and art activism. Allahyari’s artworks include 3D-printed objects, video, experimental animation, web art, and publications. She is most noted for her projects Material Speculation: ISIS (2016), which is a series of 3D-printed sculptural reconstructions of ancient artifacts destroyed by ISIS (2015–2016), and The 3D Additivist Manifesto and Cookbook (2015–2016).[1] As a 2017 Research Resident at Eyebeam, Allahyari also worked on a project about Digital Colonialism;[2][3] a term she has coined since 2015.[4]

Early life[edit]

Allahyari was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, during the Iran-Iraq War.[5] She took an interest in the arts from a young age. At age 12, she joined a private creative writing course, where she learned about the importance of telling personal narratives. This group continued until she was 18 and became a launching point for the rest of her work.[6] Allahyari attended the University of Tehran from 2003 until 2007 and was awarded her Bachelor of Arts, in Social Science and Media Studies.[citation needed] From 2007 until 2009 she attended the University of Denver and received a Master of Arts in Digital Media Studies.[citation needed] From 2010 until 2012 Allahyari attended the University of North Texas and was awarded a Master of Fine Arts in New Media Art.[7][non-primary source needed]

Selected work[edit]

She Who Sees the Unknown[edit]

She Who Sees the Unknown (2017–2020) is a long-term research based project that uses 3D modeling, 3D scanning, 3D printing, 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.[8] through 3D printed sculptures of jinn and monsters of the Middle East. This body of work has many components to it: an archive of the monstrous and jinn figures with related research and materials, as well as installations, text, video, and the 3D printed sculptures of the jinn.[9] Two of the jinn sculptures are Huma and Ya'jooj Ma'jooj. Allahyari describes this work as actions that "offer another method to re-situate power,” she told The Verge in an article, by Lizzie Plaugic, "Through researching dark goddesses, monstrous, and jinn female figures of Middle Eastern origin, poetic-speculative storytelling, re-appropriation of traditional mythologies, collaging, meshing, 3D scanning, 3D printing, and archiving."

She Who Sees the Unknown has been shown at Transfer Gallery, Upfor Gallery, Hartware Media Art Association, the New York Armory,[10] Moscow Museum of Modern Art,[11] New Museum, among others.

The Laughing Snake[edit]

In continuance with themes of all-powerful feminine and queer jinn from Arab mythology, Allahyari debuted "The Laughing Snake" (2018), a web project co-commissioned by The Whitney Museum, Liverpool Biennale, and FACT.[12] The resultant work is an interactive browser-based experience consisting of hyperlinked poetry, soundscapes and 3D animations hosted on Whitney Museum's Artnet portal.[13] The work uses the myth of a jinn to explore the status of women, sexual desire, and the female body in the Middle East. According to the original myth appearing in the fourteenth and fifteenth-century Arabic manuscript Kitab al-bulhan (Book of Wonders), the Laughing Snake had taken over a city, murdering its people and animals while numerous attempts to kill her remained unsuccessful. An old man finally destroyed the snake by holding up a mirror to her, which made her laugh so hard at her reflection that she died. Using images of the snake and the mirror, Allahyari takes us through a labyrinthine online narrative that mixes personal and imagined stories to address topics such as femininity, sexual abuse, morality, and hysteria. The snake emerges as a complex figure, reflecting multifaceted and sometimes distorted views of the female, and refracting images of otherness and monstrosity.[14]

Like Pearls[edit]

Like Pearls (2014) is a collection and glitched conglomeration of sex and romance spam from Allahyari's Farsi email and from online underwear shops in Iran.[15] She layered GIFs with beating hearts, blooming flowers, flying birds, and moving butterflies on top of the advertisements.[16] Allahyari points out the social and cultural phenomena at work with the advertisements, citing Islamic law in Iran for the reason that the female body is censored and yet simultaneously sexualized. "Like Pearls" is intentionally uncomfortable and disruptive, to draw attention to the objectification and misogyny female bodies face.[17] In an interview with Hyperallergic, Allahyari says, "the whole female body and even the government’s agenda in Iran to encourage women to wear full hijab/chador is all about censoring the female body. Your body as a woman is always objectified and then censored politically … and culturally".[17]

In Mere Spaces All Things Are Side by Side I[edit]

In Mere Spaces All Things Are Side by Side I (2014) is the first of a series of videos portraying the complex integration and the limited accessibility of the Internet in a developing country, in this case, Iran. Declining to contemplate technology and the availability of it from a position of privilege, it focuses on interruption, failure and gaps it created in communication and in relationships.[18] The piece is inspired by Allahyari's Yahoo chat histories spanning across four years, where she was in a relationship. Instead of centring the focus on the relationship itself, the artist explores the intersection of the real and the virtual, drawing parallels along the failure of the relationship and the failure of communication and technology.[15]

Material Speculation: ISIS[edit]

Material Speculation is a project that is a combination of digital fabrication and 3D printing that "inspects Petropolitical and poetic relationships between 3D Printing, Plastic, Oil, Technocapitalism and Jihad".[19] Part of a group exhibition at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The Missing: Rebuilding the Past, artists use creative means to protest "preventable loss" from destruction in conflict zones in Iraq and Syria.[20] From 2015 to 2016, Allahyari recreated twelve artifacts, all which were original and were destroyed by ISIS in 2015 at Mosul Museum.[21][22] Inside of each artifact there is a USB drive and/or memory card containing all of the research she conducted on the topic, including images, maps, videos, and PDF files. Other artists in the exhibit provide evidence of the violence seen in war, but Allahyari's pieces are indicative of a look towards the future. She is "seeking an institution that is able to preserve the data in a digital archive to provide open access to all this information so others may construct their own 3D models. To her, even that act would be one of resistance".[20] She is creating, through 3D modeling and printing, some of the artifacts destroyed by ISIS.[23]

In early 2016, Allahyari published one of her reconstructions from Material Speculation: ISIS, as well as a dossier of her research, as part of Rhizome's series The Download.[24] Through this commission, her object file for King Uthal was made openly available to anyone for 3D printing. She collaborated with Browntourage[25] to create a virtual tour of 3D prints from the Material Speculation series, PRINT your REALITY. Users touring the virtual gallery may examine the 3D images by rotating them and watch the artist respond to questions about her work.[26]

This body of work received attention from current news outlets such as Vice's Creators Project,[27] Vice's Motherboard,[28][29] AJ+,[30] CBC,[31] Huffington Post,[32] and Wired among many others.[33]

Dark Matter[edit]

First series (2014)[edit]

Allahyari's first series of Dark Matter casts a critical gaze on her home country and their censorship practices.[34] Using 3D printing, Allahyari makes objects that either forbidden in her country or unwelcome by the Iranian government. Dark Matter is a "series of scathing and critical sculptural objects which she models in Maya and 3D prints. Their often humorous juxtapositions highlight ideas forbidden or frowned upon by the current Iranian government".[34] Objects include a dog, a dildo, a satellite dish, a Barbie, a VHS tape, a pig, a gun, Buddha, and Homer Simpson.[35] Allahyari describes this piece, saying, "I want to simultaneously resist and bring awareness about the power that constantly threatens, discourages, and actively works against the ownership of these items in Iran".[35]

Second series (2014–2015)[edit]

The second series of Dark Matter was commissioned by Forever Now to be gifted to NASA to be taken to the International Space Station.[36] "Dark Matter (Second Series)" consists of 3D printed objects that are considered to be socially or culturally unwelcome, particularly in Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea.[37] Of this iteration of Dark Matter, Allahyari states, "Dark Matter is intended to serve as a documentation of the lives we currently live as humans; the dark side, the invisible, the Dystopian lives that a minority (power/government) has created for a majority (people). I am interested in the idea of re-contextualizing and re-positioning these forbidden objects to another time/space".[37] On November 11, 2014, Allahyari discussed her work as art in relation to astronomy with Roger Malina on Creative Disturbance as part of the countdown to the 100th anniversary of birth of Frank Malina.[38]

The 3D Additivist Cookbook (2016)[edit]

The 3D Additivist Cookbook,[39] co-devised and edited with Daniel Rourke, is a free 3D PDF compendium of imaginative, provocative works from over 100 world-leading “artists, designers, curators, students, activists and theorist. Released in December, 2016, the works in the Cookbook are a coalescence of recipes, fictions, critical essays, .obj and .stl files, toolkits, templates, blueprints, and methodologies.

Prior to the release of the Cookbook, Allahyari and Rourke released the 3D Additivist Manifesto in March 2015 as a call to push the 3D printer and other creative technologies to their absolute limits and beyond the realm of the speculative. The Manifesto contains a call to action with 16 points of intended mobilizations for the revolution. The 3D Additivist Cookbook came as a response to the Manifesto’s call for Creation as a violent assault on the forces of matter. Allahyari & Rourke’s aim for the Cookbook is not only the expansion of the limits of the 3D printer, but to also the extraction of the raw potential of its machinery.[40]

A portmanteau of additive and activism, #Additivism is a conflation that defines a movement intent on disrupting material, social, computational, and metaphysical realities through provocation, collaboration and science fictional thinking.[41]


  • Refiguring the Future, 205 Hudson Gallery (Hunter College Galleries), New York, New York, February–March 2019.[42]
  • Suspended Territories: Artists from Middle East and North Africa, MARTa Herford Museum, Herford, Germany, May–September 2017.[43]
  • She Who Sees The Unknown: Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj, Solo Exhibition, Photographer’s Gallery, Media Wall, London, UK, May 2017.[44]
  • Mutations-Créations: Imprimer le monde, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, March—June 2017.[45]
  • She Who Sees The Unknown, Solo Exhibition, Transfer Gallery, NY, (2016-2017)[46]
  • Factory of the Sun & Missed Connections, JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION DÜSSELDORF, Curated by Jennifer Chan, (2016)[47]
  • ‘A World of Fragile Parts’, V&A, Venice Biennale, 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Curated by Brendan Cormier and Danielle Thom, (2016) [48]
  • Solo exhibition at Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento: "Everything in Between" (2016)[49]

Residencies, recognition, and awards[edit]

  • Art residency with La Pocha Nostra, Columbia College Chicago (2009-2010)
  • BANFF Film and Media Residency (2013)
  • Resident at Gray Area Art and Technology, San Francisco, CA (2014)[50]
  • Resident at SculpCad, 3D Software and Printing Residency, Dallas, Texas (2014)[51]
  • Special Award at the Florence Biennale (2015)[52]
  • Autodesk artist in residency, for Material Speculation: ISIS (2015)[53]
  • Resident at The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University, (2015)[54]
  • Resident with AUTODESK’s Pier9 Art Program (3D printing + sculpture), (2015)[55]
  • Recipient of Vilém Flusser Residency Program for Artistic Research in association with Transmediale, an annual award through the Transmediale festival for art and digital culture in the German capital. (2016)[56]
  • Recipient of the Leading Global thinkers of 2016 award by Foreign Policy Magazine (2016) [57]
  • #Additivism Artist residency collaboration with Daniel Rourke, Auckland University of Technology, (2016)[58]
  • Research Fellowship at Eyebeam for "She Who Sees The Unknown", centered on digital colonialism and Re-Figuring of dark goddesses, female Jinns, and monstrous figures of ancient Near East. (2016-2017)[59]
  • Digital Sculpture Award 2016, The Institute of Digital Art, Germany.[60]


  1. ^ Allahyari, Morehshin; Rourke, Daniel (December 2016) [2016]. "#Additivism — The 3D Additivist Cookbook" ( (PDF, Zip, website, Booklet). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Institute Of Networked Cultures. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  2. ^ "Talking Digital Colonialism with Morehshin Allahyari". Hyperallergic. 2019-06-11. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  3. ^ CyArk 500 2015 - Morehshin Allahyari, retrieved 2019-09-12
  4. ^ "These five artists are redefining technology". Eyebeam. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  5. ^ Bailey, Richard. "The Voice's Folds: Morehshin Allahyari, Michael A. Morris, Jenny Vogel". Glasstire.
  6. ^ "Artist Profile: Morehshin Allahyari". Rhizome. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  7. ^ "Morehshin Allahyari Artist Info". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  8. ^ "Re-Figuring the Future with Morehshin Allahyari | Rubin Museum of Art". Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  9. ^ "Morehshin Allahyari's 3D-printed project pushes back against 'digital colonialism'". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  10. ^ "30 Must-See Artists at the Armory Show". The New York Times. 2018-03-08. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  11. ^ "This Site is Under Revolution". Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  12. ^ "Morehshin Allahyari: The Laughing Snake". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  13. ^ Allahyari, Morehshin. "The Laughing Snake". Whitney Artnet. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Morehshin Allahyari: The Laughing Snake". Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  15. ^ a b "Morehshin Allahyari's Art on Iranian Censorship Will Soon Be Out of This World". Global Voices Advox. 2014-12-01. Retrieved 2021-05-28.
  16. ^ "".
  17. ^ a b "PUBLIC PANEL: Material Speculation, Between ISIS and Islamophobia – Trinity Square Video". Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  18. ^ Allahyari, Morehshin (2014). "In Mere Spaces All Things Are Side by Side I".
  19. ^ Lorenzin, Filippo (February 2015). "SPREAD WHAT HAS BEEN DESTROYED: INTERVIEW WITH MOREHSHIN ALLAHYARI". Digicult. Italy. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "In Acts of Resistance, Artists and Scholars Digitally Reconstruct the Past". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  21. ^ Soulellis, Paul (Feb 16, 2016). "The Distributed Monument: New work from Morehshin Allahyari's 'Material Speculation' series". Rhizome. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  22. ^ Butler Millsaps, Bridget (Feb 18, 2016). "Material Speculation: Morehshin Allahyari Releases Collection So Public Can 3D Print Pieces Destroyed by ISIS". The Voice of 3D Printed and Additive Art. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  23. ^ "Artist Uses 3D Tech to Recreate Past Destroyed by ISIS". KQED Arts. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  24. ^ "The Distributed". Rhizome. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  25. ^ "Browntourage". Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  26. ^ Kotack, Madison. "Want to Appreciate Your Playboys and Barbies? Take This VR Tour". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  27. ^ Bruney, Gabrielle (2016-01-09). "This Artist Fights ISIS with 3D-Printing in Virtual Reality". Creators Project by Vice. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  28. ^ "3D Printing vs. ISIS". Motherboard. 2015-05-25. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  29. ^ "You Can Now 3D Print the Ancient Artifacts That ISIS Destroyed". Motherboard. 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  30. ^ "This Artist Fights ISIS With A 3D Printer". AJ+. AJ+. Jul 3, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  31. ^ "3D printing artifacts destroyed by ISIS". CBC Radio. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  32. ^ DMello, Chantelle (2016-03-30). "This Artist Is Using 3D Printers To Revive Artifacts Destroyed By ISIS". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  33. ^ Franklin-Wallis, Oliver. "Defying Daesh – with a 3D printer". Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  34. ^ a b "Dark Matter – Artist Morehshin Allahyari Tweaks Iranian Government With 3D Printing". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  35. ^ a b "Dark Matter (First Series-2014) | Morehshin Allahyari". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  36. ^ "Dark Matter (Second Series 2014–2015) | Morehshin Allahyari". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  37. ^ a b "Dark Matter (Second Series), Morehshin Allahyari". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  38. ^ "Dark Matter in Astronomy and in Art". Creative Disturbance. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  39. ^ "The 3D Additivist Manifesto, by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke." Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  40. ^ "The 3D Additivist Cookbook released by the Institute of Network Cultures." Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  41. ^ "on material entanglements: an interview with morehshin allahyari". San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMOMA). Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  42. ^ Steinhauer, Jillian (March 21, 2019). "New York Art Galleries: What to See Right Now". New York Times. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  43. ^ "Suspended Territories, Artists from Middle East and North Africa". Marta Herford Museum for Art, Architecture, Design. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  44. ^ "Morehshin Allahyari, She Who Sees The Unknown: Ya'jooj Ma'jooj at The Photographers' Gallery". Contemporary Art Society. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  46. ^ "She Who Sees The Unknown: MOREHSHIN ALLAHYARI". Transfer Gallery. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  47. ^ "Factory of the Sun & Missed Connections". Julia Stoschek Foundation. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  48. ^ "V&A opens A World of Fragile Parts at the Venice Architecture Biennale". Dezeen. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  49. ^ "Verge Center for the Arts". Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  50. ^ "Morehshin Allahyari". Gray Area. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  51. ^ "SculptCAD Rapid Artist - Morehshin Allahyari". Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  52. ^ "Special Award: Morehshin Allahyari". Arte Studio Srl. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  53. ^ "Artist In Residence | Morehshin Allahyari | Autodesk". Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  54. ^ "Morehshin Allahyari". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  55. ^ "MOREHSHIN ALLAHYARI - ARTIST IN RESIDENCE 2015". Autodesk Inc. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  56. ^ "Vilém Flusser Residency for Artistic Research". Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  57. ^ "For saving heritage on a Zip drive". AARP. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  58. ^ "#Additivism Residency and Event Series". Colab, AUT University. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  59. ^ "Re-figuring". Eyebeam. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.
  60. ^ "Digital Sculpture Award Winners - institute of digital art". Institute of digital art. Retrieved Nov 18, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]