BUSHWICK – On Friday, January 18, Shahrzad Changalvaee presented an exhibition, “In Absentia, In Effigie” at The Chimney, an industrial-looking cube gallery in the middle of a small parking lot in Bushwick.
In the small room, there’s a printer that is connected to a computer with a distinctive software, which allows it to print screenshots of videos that Changalvaee has taken and some from her childhood. The images float down on the surface of the water in the reservoir– thatChangalvaee sculpted herself. People are asked to walk around it to “discover floating images and fragments of lost stories,” The Chimney described it.
Shahrzad Changalvaee is a multimedia artist, and her work is distinctive, just like her name. Born and raised in Iran and moved to the U.S in 2013 to attend the Yale School of Art. In 2017, she moved to Brooklyn to be amongst other artists.
“The community of artists are very active and alive here,” she said. “It is a place that is very diverse. I know a lot of artists who have found their place here. This is the place to be.”
Ever since she was a little girl, Changalvaee was drawn to art and was lucky because her dad always encouraged her. When she was a kid and heard on TV about a graphic design exhibition in Ahwaz, Iran, she persuaded her dad to take her, and that exhibition changed her life – she knew that was what she wanted to study.
Changalvaee’s art has changed throughout the years.
“A lot of times, I’m trying to respond to what’s happening around me,” she said. “Like right now, I would say I’m a sculpture. I’m focused on how narratives can be constructed and deconstructed, and I’m focused on language and how we communicate and understand each other.”
Iran is a country very important and dear to Changalvaee’s heart. But, President Trump’s Muslim Ban prohibits people coming from Iran (among other countries). Changalvaee is afraid that if she were to leave the country now, she won’t be let back in.
“It’s affecting my life as an artist as well. I am always afraid to get out of the country even for professional purposes,” she said. “For example, I can’t go to Berlin for an art show or residency because I am afraid I cannot come back.”
“For the longest time, I was stuck in my own country because of the horrible relationship Iran has with the rest of the world. And now I feel like I’m stuck here.”
Currently, Changalvaee’s goal is to focus on her new home, Brooklyn.
“I want to understand what’s going on around me, in Brooklyn, in NY, in the U.S.,” she said. “It’s interesting. A lot of immigrants are people who come with fresh ideas and energies. They are effective in making a society and trying to lift it. I want to be a part of a community and make the changes I feel like are right. And I want to focus on my work as an artist.”
Her work can be seen at The Chimney, located at 200 Morgan Avenue, until February 24. The Chimney is open on Saturdays & Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m, or by appointment. You can check out their website here for more information.
“I’m happy I had this opportunity to show my work,” she said, “in this amazing space blended into this gigantic place that is Brooklyn.”