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Ashkan Sepahvand

Ashkan Sepahvand is reading for a DPhil in Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art and St. John’s College, University of Oxford, where he is a Clarendon-AHRC Scholar, with support from the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Programme.

My practice takes time. I work across media, mostly writing and performance, but I’ve been experimenting a lot with drawing, painting, object-making, and, most recently, moving image. I like to develop a long research process for each project I do, generating a variety of forms. I have ongoing collaborations with friends, these are important spaces for me to learn from others. I’ve worked in museums before as a researcher, editor, and curator, a shift between theory and practice I find generative as an artist. Across all these activities, I am particularly interested in language, the body, desire, displacement, myth, and religion. 

My thesis project, provisionally entitled "A Sodomite Imaginary: Fantasizing the Self and Storying the Other," takes the word "faggot" as a point of departure for decolonizing sexual identity and radicalizing political alterity. By moving between the symbolic archives of queer and Iranian studies, I propose an asynchronous entanglement between the failures of "faggot revolution" and the geopolitical ruination of modern Iran. I translate "faggot" into "luti" and "kunmarz," figures of alterity in Iranian culture, in order to trace a transhistorical symptomatology of struggle and sacrifice. My research argues for "the sodomite imaginary" as a fantasy of displacement and a narrative of unmastery that confronts colonial-capital with the radically political pleasure of a lack. 

I’ve presented work, text, and/or collaborations at ICA London, Ashkal Alwan, Sharjah Biennial X & 13, Gwangju Biennale 11, dOCUMENTA (13), Contour Biennale 9, Matadero Madrid, Nottingham Contemporary, One Minute Space, Klosterruine, Künstlerhof Frohnau, and the Academy of Fine Arts Munich, amongst others. I curated the exhibition “Odarodle – an imaginary their_story of naturepeoples, 1535-2017” at the Schwules Museum Berlin in 2017, and co-edited the publication "Textures of the Anthropocene: Grain, Vapor, Ray" (HKW/The MIT Press, 2015), amongst others. 

Together with Natascha Sadr Haghighian, we work as the institute for incongruous translation since 2010. With Virgil B/G Taylor, we work as sssssssSsssss since 2019.