Katayoun Amjadi


S/WORD and Letter to Baba are companion works which probe the power and efficacy of words and guns in a world consigned to both. S/WORD draws from our deep history with the written word and tools of war and presents both as weaponized figures on paper scrolls. Letter to Baba is a video work seen as both documentary and diary, at once profoundly personal, yet speaking to universal truth and fear.

S/WORD, 2021
Multimedia audio/video installation at Alice R. Rogers and Target Galleries, Saint John Art Center, SJU

In the beginning was word and sword, one begetting the other. 

In opposition they appear as in a duel, but as equals on the scroll they are co-conspirators in conflict and resolution, and conflict again, bearing witness one to the other. Fearful weapons borne by warriors of hope, scrolls of law and banners of war, unfurling, time and again.

Blood and ink spill to the same ground.

Yet with the scroll there is no page to turn, no past to move beyond. What gets recorded, reminded, and what fades away into shadows and scars, becomes the ghost of the future. Can we learn to linger in the space between the bleed lines, or breathe life into the rift and wreckage left behind and waiting ahead?

Pen, 2021
Rotring “Red Ring” German manufacturing company mechanical drafting pencil, (original design 1928)
12” x 12” x 6”

Pistol, 2021
Walther P.38 decommissioned German designed semi-automatic WWII pistol, 1939
9” x 5.5” x 1.5”

Letter to Baba, 2020
HD video projection

In this beginning is a word, daughter to father. “Baba?” 

It is a simple inquiry, a request for presence and assurance in troubled times. Nothing is written. There is no paper, no pen, nor gun nor sword, just a word, spoken plainly, if not plaintively, of one seeking wisdom and insight from the past in order to illuminate what is now, in full measure, the nearness to war.

The tender voice tinged with curiosity, fear and resignation, probes histories, close at hand and universal, for shards of truth in a world fractured and tilted badly off axis.

S/WORD, 2020
Multimedia installation with paper scrolls, type-set ink, desk, chair, broom, video/audio projection
Saint John Art Center, SJU
dimension varies (approx. 32′ x 48′)

One of the things I found so inspiring when I was at St John’s for my residency in the winter of 2020 was the relationship between the Abbey and the library. One is truly a magnificent work of religious architecture while the other houses a phenomenal collection of text, scrolls, artifacts and history. Their proximity and essential relation of one to the other provided the impetus for the work I did during my residency that sought to question the age-old tension between the word and the sword.

My residency provided access to a most beautiful studio over the Rogers Gallery, both of which had the essential form of classic church architecture with soaring ceilings, a long central axis and the sense of a quiet, introspective space. I found this to be a profoundly moving experience as an artist, and with my show in January 2021, I would like to draw on the relationship of art gallery to church, and in a sense, create an experience that makes a correlation between the sacred space of the church and its deeply contemplative nature and the secular space of the art gallery and its reflective nature. To that end my work will engender some of the features of the classic church architecture of nave, ambulatory and choir, but do so in way that speaks to my concerns as an artist; of humankind’s relation to one another and the role of word and sword, pen and gun in today’s world.

Bleed Lines, 2020
linocut press prints with oil-based etching ink on book production wastepaper rolls
6’-10” x 1’-0”

Unbound – Black Book, 2020
book cover, linocut ghost prints on book production wastepaper cuts
6″ x 9″ x 3 ″