Clayton Campbell and Amitis Motevalli to exhibit at Aaran Gallery in Tehran

Aaran Gallery

June 18, 2010

25 June 2010

No. 9 , Dey Alley
Tehran, Iran

Two California artists are taking their art straight to the center of the intense discourse occurring in Iran about basic human rights when they exhibit together this month in Tehran.

Artists Clayton Campbell and Amitis Motevalli will show their highly charged photographic and sculptural installations at the Aaran Gallery, Tehran, opening this June 25 ( Both artists are known for their commitment to social justice.

Campbell ( will exhibit two photographic installations including his seminal work, Words My Son Has Learned Since 9-11. Created in 2004 and continuing to grow in size and scope, Campbell’s cross cultural project researches how people view themselves in a post 9-11 reality through learned language. Words My Son Has Learned Since 9-11 has been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris; Higher Bridges Art Center, Enniskellen, Northern Ireland; Nam June Paik Art Center, Korea; WYSPA Art Institute, Gdansk, Poland; as well as Las Vegas, Kurdestan, and Croatia.

His other new work are large photographs entitled After Abu Ghraib, which re-contextualize the notorious photos of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi citizens at Abu Ghraib prison. Says Campbell says of the exhibition, “I am aware of the incendiary nature of these images, especially showing them in a Muslim country whose government is at odds with my own. My overall commitment is to non-violent activism wherever I may be, and as such I will always provoke public dialogue through my art in support of basic human rights. The U.S. still has not settled its moral debt around Abu Ghraib. My feeling is that in Iran where the government is torturing and imprisoning people for protesting a rigged election, the metaphor of Abu Ghraib allows Iranians to turn a spotlight on the illegal behavior of their own government. Political tensions daily escalate between the United States and Iran, and miscommunication may be at an all time high. Both my work and Amitis’ advocates that artists and citizens in both the U.S. and Iran stand against violence and torture. We are building bridges between our communities, not tearing them down.”

Artist Amitis Motevalli, ( an Iranian American whose father’s family has for hundreds of years been the caretakers of a shrine of the Imamzadeh Yahya in Iran, will show installation works contrasting the confluence of ritual, racism, and aspects of feminism within Iran and the United States. Motevalli’s new offerings include “Here/There, Then/Now“, a series of 7 hand embroidered large cloth flags. These flags are inspired by the traditional flags used in Shia rituals dating back to the Islamic battle of Karbala. In ritualistic use, the flags have excerpts from the Holy Quran and images from struggle of Karbala. In the Aaran Gallery exhibition the flags will use imagery from the civil rights movement in the US. A speech by Fannie Lou Hamer, delivered at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 is translated and transcribed onto the wall of the gallery in gold ink. The speech is a simple, but eloquent account of Ms. Hamer’s violent experience when attempting to register to vote.

Motevalli’s second work, “Fascia“, is made of white and mirror sequined spandex bikini bottoms stretched across the roof of a small gallery to create a dome shape. The stretched out spandex alters the architecture of the room and creates a sense of physical presences without actual the presence of any figures.

Clayton Campbell is an artist in residence and long time Artistic Director of the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. Amitis Motevalli is based in Los Angeles and was a 2008 Artist Fellow at 18th Street.

18th Street Arts Center- 1639 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

The Aaran Gallery is one of Iran’s most progressive contemporary art galleries, encouraging dialogue between artists, critics, collectors, and public. For further information about the exhibition, contact info [​at​]

Image above:
Clayton Campbell
After Abu Ghraib, #1