Family Atlas

Maryam Monalisa Gharavi writes an epistolary response to Puzzle for M+ Magazine.

But if before I had marveled at the effect of advances in mobile phone technology on long-distance family communiqués, I now felt awed by the sense of openness and safety of that correspondence. The child’s congruency between what he felt and how he expressed it was an advancement all its own. The securely attached child, to use a phrase from the psychodynamic relational model, retains assurance that you will be there. A superior emotional infrastructure has quietly emerged. No one should take it for granted.


Does puzzle then mean to obfuscate deliberately, for the sake of the ruse? Or does puzzle imply that obfuscation is inherent and constitutional, as inviolable as genetics?


Interlude Doc 091

A short piece about File, my proto-NFT for (the now-defunct) left gallery, is published at Interlude Docs.

I had a poor grasp of the stakes and mostly disregarded the blockchain and how the provenance of my work could be inscribed upon it. I balked at consigning a digital file that really wanted to be modified, moved, copied, or deleted; to trace the steps of its creator.

But this presented a motivation for the work. I decided that I could start by writing about what was happening, and what that could mean to me. I would write as long as there was a problem to discuss, and the underlying problem was that I could not relinquish the file to unfamiliar hands. This understanding would remain between me and the work and comprised a digital stack of hyperlinked pages, each documenting one facet of the problem and together forming an unsolved picture. 

Thanks to Rebekah Weikel for the invitation!


Oct 24 - ongoing

Puzzle is a new work commissioned by M+. It is a program that places interlocking graphical tiles, accompanied by circular dialogues, endlessly in a browser. The work is intrinsically bilingual and its single interactive feature is a language toggle that permits different views of the situation. The situation travels forward and backward in time, accumulating a picture that enables one to glimpse the forces that govern certain beliefs and breakdowns.

Inspired by role-playing video games, Ryan Kuo’s Puzzle rebuilds conversations from his personal history as a first-generation Taiwanese American growing up in rural America. In looping, disembodied encounters, themes of diaspora emerge. Chinese values such as Confucian patriarchy and filial piety encounter American idealism and self-preservation. Instead of viewing these as opposing forces, Kuo attempts to piece them together across the barriers of memory and language.

Puzzle is durational and is intended for desktop and even larger displays. Access the project here.

The work was co-curated by Kate Gu and Kerry Doran. Translation by Yuling Zhong. Web development by Tommy Martinez.


Center for Afrofuturist Studies residency

I was a resident at the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa City in October 2022.

I used my time to read and research material for my book project File: A User’s Manual.

Thank you to An Duplan for the invitation!


Conceptions of White
MacKenzie Art Gallery
Aug 6 - Nov 13, 2022

My work File: A Primer is part of Conceptions of White, a traveling exhibition from MacKenzie Art Gallery “offering context and nuanced perspectives that help viewers grapple with contemporary configurations of White identity.”

The exhibition examines the origins, travel, and present reality of “Whiteness” as a concept and a racial invention that classifies degrees of civility/humanity. Select historical objects and artworks illustrate White origin myths within their historical context, revealing Whiteness as a North American, settler-colonial invention of the seventeenth century, created alongside “Blackness” and “Aboriginality.” The contemporary artists in this exhibition complicate this historical foundation by examining how these acts of racialization are felt today through concepts of White guilt, anxiety, supremacy, benevolence, fragility, and power. [...] The exhibition is framed through a biracial lens with both curators seeking a clearer understanding of their own relationship to Whiteness.

The show also includes Artist once known, Jeremy Bailey, Deanna Bowen, Jennifer Chan, Nicholas Galanin, Ken Gonzales-Day, Arthur Jafa, Michèle Lalonde, Barbara Meneley, Robert Morris, Nell Painter, Howardena Pindell, Hiram Powers, and Fred Wilson.

Many thanks to the curators, John G. Hampton and Lillian O’Brien Davis.