Hayv Kahraman

Born 1981 in Baghdad, Iraq. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

Hayv Kahraman’s work explores the transformation of agency undergone by the colonial subject. Her figures are placed in seemingly impossible poses akin to circus performers or contortionists, attracting the voyeuristic gaze through an eroticisation and fetishisation of the ‘other’. Yet their faces stare plainly back at us; the gaze is tolerated. This interplay of gazes allows for the subjects to be both looked at and to look back at, subverting the coloniser’s power, and calling attention to the dehumanisation of the colonised. Kahraman’s freak show acts, like immigrants and refugees, occupy a space of both invisibility and visibility - they are relegated to certain subsections of society and ignored, while remaining naturally visible. Though her figures are vulnerable, they present themselves deliberately, showing that otherness is presented as a construct and not a given.

Selected exhibitions include MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2019); Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Netherlands (2019); ICA Boston, Boston, MA (2019) Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, Honolulu, HI (2019); De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, UK (2019); Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2018); Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA (2018); Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (2017); and the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE (2016).

Her work is featured in several public collections including the British Museum, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, USA; LACMA, CA, USA; Birmingham Museum of Art, AL, USA; The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA; The Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; The Barjeel Art Foundation Sharjah, UAE; MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art Doha, Qatar; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio, USA; North Carolina; Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.


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