Sandow Birk, Elyse Pignolet, Christopher Blay, and Morehshin Allahyari

An opening reception with the artists will be held Saturday, November 3, 2012 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

An artist talk with Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet will take place before the opening reception on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 5:00pm.

Exhibition Sponsors:
Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco
Displays Fine Art Services

Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet
The 99 Names of God
with selections from Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an


Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, The 99 Names of God (LAX)


Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet’s collaborative project, The 99 Names of God, is a series of illustrations depicting the five airports and departure gates involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The 99 Most Perfect Names of God are the names of God in the Qur’an and in the Hadith. The 99 names vary, and they often appear in elaborate calligraphy and with extensive decorations. The motifs adorning the texts and the drawings are derived from ornamentation found in historical, hand-illuminated Qur’ans.

Sandow Birk investigates the Qur’an as the divine message from God to mankind in his series American Qur’an. Birk follows the centuries old tradition of using color inks to render the calligraphy by hand. Birk seeks to deconstruct negative stereotypes against Islam, and present the Qur’an in accessible format to American society, in hopes of fostering an understanding about its relationship to Judeo-Christian beliefs.

The MAC exhibition will include selections from the full series comprising more than 300 pages that illustrate the 114 suras of the Qur’an. Substantial research and travel informed Birk’s work on the American Qur’an. He completed a three-moth residency at Cité International des Artes in Paris and was granted access to one of the largest collections of hand-illuminated Qur’ans in the world at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. American Qur’an has received tremendous acclaim across the country through various publications including The New York Times, Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle. The series has traveled to prestigious institutions including an exhibition in 2011 of 100 panels at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.

Sandow Birk, a California native, is known for his use of social issues in his artwork. Frequent subjects of his past work have included barrio life, inner-city violence, warfare, graffiti and imprisonment. Often merging fact and fiction, Birk creates salient and humorous works that invoke notions of justice. In the past several years, Birk’s work has been included in more than ten museum exhibitions and twenty-five solo shows; he has received an NEA grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Getty Fellowship, and a City of Los Angeles Fellowship. Two of Birk’s major projects, ”œIn Smog and Thunder” and ”œIncarcerated: Vision of California in the 21st Century,” were published by Chronicle Books in 2004, as monographs by Last Gasp, and Birk’s version of Dante’s Inferno. Sandow Birk is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, California, Koplin del Rio Gallery in Los Angeles, and P.P.O.W Gallery in New York.

Born in Oakland, CA, Elyse Pignolet lives and works in Los Angeles. Primarily working in ceramics, her work has dealt with various themes including social issues, urban themes, and topics from contemporary news articles. Other artistic projects and drawings reference the world around us, dealing with formal concerns of art while blurring the line between figuration and abstraction. Her drawings begin with the deconstruction of city grids, maps, architectural plans, which are reorganized in multilayered semi-abstract compositions. These drawings attempt to process the many layers of information observed in her contemporary environment, compressing time, space, and place. Her works have been featured in several publications including the La Weekly, Juxtapoz Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times.

Christopher Blay
Machine Time


Christopher Blay, Machine Time


The camera is a time machine.

Christopher Blay’s time machine project is an interactive live performance and art installation. Machine Time explores conceptual space and time through a fabricated mechanical means, modeled after the way that a camera is able to manipulate space and time through its own processes. The installation is based on a mid-century flight test facility and launch control station, manned by uniformed assistants who engage actively with the selected time travelers. When the session begins, participants are asked to answer questions about their destination of choice. Where would you like to go? What experiences would you like to revisit, or create? In this case, time travel is both a conceptual and a virtual space. Like the camera, the time machine manipulates space and time by referencing the past, present and future through typed in and dialed choices made by the machine’s operator.

If you are interested in sitting in the time machine and time travelling, please email a recording from your phone or other recording device to, or call 682-214-2111 and leave a detailed message.The recording should include your full name, where you would travel to, and a minute or two about what your trip would mean to you. Twelve respondents will be selected to experience time travel on November 3, 2012 at the opening reception. Please include the spelling of your name in your email.

The sound heard by participants and time travelers is brought to you by the Austin based band, Montopolis. Montopolis will play live at the opening reception improvising and reacting to the performance. Montopolis is a project of the musician Justin Sherburn.

Christopher Blay began his art career in 1995 as a student, with Richard Doherty and the late Peter Ferresten at Tarrant County College. In 2003, Blay earned a BFA from Texas Christian University, Fort Worth in studio art with an emphasis on photography. His work has since followed the dual path of institutional criticism and conceptual inquiries into photography. Blay draws heavily on the writings of Vilem Flusser, Bob Rauschenberg and the traditions of installation art.


Morehshin Allahyari
Re: apologies to the many wonderful Iranians

Standing behind the windows; Unable to reach or to pass through. The past and present meeting in one spot; Places and objects slowly fragmenting, deforming, fading in and out, coming together, splitting apart; Witnessing things falling through”¦The blurry memories of my childhood from war, fusing into the same feelings of numbness and helplessness where I stand today.

Re: Apologies to the Many Wonderful Iranians is an installation that explores and combines personal memories of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) with the constant awareness of life filled with drumbeats of war against Iran and the intensified sanctions targeting the lives of the Iranian people. It is a response to the recent unethical and proud reports and discussions that praise sanctions and wars on Iran to stop the Iranian government’s nuclear activities; Rejecting and ignoring the results of sanctions on the lives of the ordinary people and their suffering; Forgetting the mentally and emotionally exhausted citizens, floating between political wars. Legitimatizing mass slaughter that sanctions accompany. Keeping the invisible war invisible without filling-in the gaps.

*In Summer of 2012, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times went to Iran and within his return to the U.S. in one of his reports named Pinched and Griping in Iran (June 2012) wrote: ”œ”¦with apologies to the many wonderful Iranians who showered me with hospitality, I favor sanctions because I don’t see any other way to pressure the regime on the nuclear issue or ease its grip on power. My takeaway is that sanctions are working pretty well.”

Morehshin Allahyari is a new media artist and an art activist. She was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States in 2007. Morehshin’s creative and research interest encompasses 3D animation, digital filmmaking, web-art / design, performance and extensive activity as a curator and producer. The topics of her practice include the social, political and cultural issues of Iran, creative writing, art activism, media art, and collaborative art. Morehshin’s animated films and curatorial projects have received worldwide acclaim. She has participated in exhibitions, festivals, and conferences across the world including Tehran, Denver (TEDx conference), Chicago, New York, The 7th Berlin International Directors Lounge in Germany, the 25th European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück, The Taubman Museum of Art in Virginia, and Arad Art Museum in Romania. Morehshin is currently an adjunct faculty at the University of North Texas (New Media Art) and University of Texas Dallas (Emerging Media and Communication).

Comments are closed.

Sign up for the DADA Newsletter