Author Archives: Amir Saber Esfahani

About Amir Saber Esfahani

Amir Esfahani is a practicing Bay Area artist, educator, and curator. Esfahani's role at the Internet Archive is to connect artist with our collections and to show what is possible when open access to information meets the arts. He is also the Director of Special Art Projects at the Internet Archive.

The 2018 Internet Archive Artist in Residence: Pickling the Past for Future Edibility

Exhibition Overview on the Archive for download or viewing here: https://archive.org/details/2018ArtistInResidence

or on YouTube:

Article Written by John Held, Jr.

The Internet Archive is near and dear to my heart. First: a disclaimer. When the website provider Geocities went under and scrubbed existing sites, my data loss was incalculable. But all was not lost. The Internet Archive came to my rescue, capturing the site for posterity, giving it a new URL and making it accessible again, along with almost 300 billion (!) other preserved websites. http://web.archive.org/web/20050323100927/www.geocities.com/johnheldjr/

The Internet Archive, which is physically located down the street from me in a majestic former Christian Science Church at the intersection of Clement Street and Park Presidio, captures much more than defunct websites. It also digitizes and makes accessible books and sound recordings. For every person who bemoans the fact that private information put up on the Internet is forever available, there is another viewing the resource as an invaluable service expanding the depth of research on multitudes of topics.

Research takes many paths, and one path especially favored by Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle is providing an open-ended road of creativity for artists to travel down. In a talk he gave last year at the inauguration of the Internet Archive’s Artist in Residence Program exhibition at Ever Gold (Projects), Kahle marveled at the inadvertent uses of the structure he constructed. Yes, the Internet Archive provides a public service by capturing and disseminating information, but the myriad of unpremeditated “happy accidents” resulting from the formation of this highly engineered edifice, is often the most satisfying. Important as the formidable information sharing of the Archive is, we can also be impressed by the ability of the system to transmute information in unexpected ways. It’s the manifestation of alchemy embedded in today’s technology.

Selected by residency founder and director Amir Saber Esfahani, this year’s residency artists Mieka Marple, Chris Sollars and Taravat Talepas and have each approached the mining of the Internet Archive through independent investigation and style of presentation on topics ranging from Hieronymus Bosch, the Grateful Dead and the Iranian Revolution.

Mieke Marple has previously exhibited at Ever Gold (Projects) on the theme of the Tarot. She switches gears in the current exhibition to investigate the imagery of Hieronymus Bosch’s, “What Abomination from the Garden of Earthly Delights Are You,” interpreting her understanding of the work through linking Victorian eroticism with floral embellishments, creating her own version of “Earthly Delights.”

Two installations by Chris Sollars sharply contrast with Marple’s timeless Victoriana. Searching the Internet Archive for psychedelic screen savers and Grateful Dead recordings, and linking them with the literal pickling of information by mixing canning and hardware from the Internet Archive itself, Sollars reveals the endless possibilities the Internet Archive can generate.

Taraval Talepasand was born in the United States to Iranian parents during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. This duality informs much of the work of the widely exhibited artist, who is on the faculty of the San Francisco Art Institute. Instead of dredging the Internet Archive, Talepasand adds to it by creating the “Vali Mortezaie” Archive in collaboration with his son Hushidar Mortezaie. The collection contains vintage publications from pre-revolutionary Iran, including magazines, propaganda posters and advertisements. Talepasand, who studied Persian miniature painting in Iran, translates the Archive’s contents through a series of drawn and painted works.

Kudos to Ever Gold (Projects) gallery director Andrew McClintock, who collaborated with Amir Saber Esfahani, on the exhibition’s organization. Ever Gold (Projects) is known for presentations of in-your-face artworks that scream contemporaneity. The current exhibition’s diversity mirror the range of roads made possible by the capture of billions of websites and petabytes of information. Just as pioneer women in an earlier age pickled the year’s crop, preserving it for later edibility, the Internet Archive, as exemplified by Chris Sollars installation, preserves information for future consumption.

The Artist in Residence Exhibition ran from July 14- August 11, 2018. We have put together a short video with interviews from Brewster Kahle and the artists involved, as well as shots of the actual opening event.

The Internet Archive’s 2018 Artist in Residency Exhibition

The Internet Archive and Ever Gold [Projects] is pleased to present The Internet Archive’s 2018 Artist in Residence Exhibition, an exhibition organized in collaboration with the Ever Gold [Projects] as the culmination of the second year of the Internet Archive’s visual arts residency program. This year’s exhibition features work by artists Mieke Marple, Chris Sollars, and Taravat Talepasand.

Exhibition Dates and Information:

July 14 – August 11
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 14, 5-8 pm
1275 Minnesota Street First Floor Suite 105, San Francisco, California

The Internet Archive is a San Francisco based nonprofit digital library providing researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public access to more than 40 petabytes of collections of digitized materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies/videos, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books, as well as the Wayback Machine archive (an archive of almost 300 billion websites preserved over time). The Internet Archive visual arts residency is organized by Amir Saber Esfahani and Andrew McClintock, and is designed to connect emerging and mid-career artists with the archive’s collections and to show what is possible when open access to information meets the arts. The residency is one year in length during which time each artist will develop a body of work that utilizes the resources of the archive’s collections in their own practice.

Image Credit: Mieke Marple

Inspired by a Facebook quiz titled “What Abomination from the Garden of Earthly Delights Are You?” Mieke Marple created a series of drawings loosely based on the masterwork painted by Hieronymus Bosch. By digitally checking out numerous books from the Archive’s library and using imagery contained within them to inspire her work, Marple juxtaposes beautifully painted flora with old world erotic illustrations to create her own Garden of Earthly Delights.

Image Credit: Chris Sollars

Through a series of sculptures, sounds, and video, Chris Sollars will investigate the Internet through a combination of physical and digital representations to address the absurdity of the Sisyphean task of keeping the content of one’s work and society perpetually alive. As a nod to the 1960’s Bay Area’s psychedelic and electronic explorations, Sollars will be sourcing the Internet Archive’s psychedelic screen savers, live recordings of the Grateful Dead, and psychotropic literature while utilizing “slow movement” methods of pickling and preserving for handling data.

Image Credit: Taravat Talepasand

During her residency at the Archive, Taravat Talepasand created the “Vali Mortezaie” archive in collaboration with his son Hushidar Mortezaie. The eBook collection contains vintage publications from pre-revolutionary Iran and contains magazines, propaganda posters, and advertisements that capture the lifestyle at a politically pivotal time in Iranian history. Using the newly formed archive Talepasand created a series of drawn and painted collaged miniatures.

Mieke Marple was born and raised in Palo Alto, CA, among a family of engineers in the heart of the Silicon Valley. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008. She was co-owner of Night Gallery, Los Angeles, from 2011 until 2016, and has been written about by The New York Times and W Magazine, among other publications. In 2012, Marple produced the web series Feast of Burden, directed by filmmaker Eugene Kotlyarenko and distributed by MOCAtv. In 2014, she co-founded the benefit art auction and gala Sexy Beast for Planned Parenthood LA, and remains on the organization’s advisory board. Recent exhibitions include Relocation Tarot at Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco (2018). She lives and works in San Francisco.

Chris Sollars is an artist based in San Francisco. His work subverts public space through interventions and performance. The results are documented using sculpture, photography, and video that are integrated into mixed-media installations. Sollars is an Assistant Professor in Sculpture, Mills College, Oakland, CA with awards that include a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2013 San Francisco Arts Commission: Individual Artist Commission Grant, 2007 Eureka Fellowship Award, 2007 San Francisco Bay Area Artadia Grant, 2009 Headlands Center for the Arts residency, and 2015 residency at Recology. Recent projects include White on Red at 1275 Minnesota Street (2017); Goatscapes for Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco, 2017-2018); and the sculpture band skullture that plays site-specific sets on location.

Taravat Talepasand was born in 1979 in the United States to Iranian parents during the Iranian Revolution. She retained close family and artistic ties to Iran, Esfahan, where she was trained in the challenging discipline of Persian miniature painting. Paying close attention to the cultural taboos identified by distinctly different social groups, particularly those of gender, race and socioeconomic position, her work reflects the cross-pollination, or lack thereof, in our “modern” society. Talepasand has exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently in the exhibition In the Fields of Empty Days: The Intersection of Past and Present in Iranian Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2018), Westoxicated at Zevitas Marcus Gallery (Los Angeles, 2017), and Made in Iran, Born in America at Guerrero Gallery (San Francisco, 2017). She has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Huffington Post.