Gazelle Samizay was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and lives in Los Angeles. Her photographs and videos have been exhibited across the US and internationally, including at Whitechapel Gallery, London; the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach; and the Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, UT. She is currently the artist-in-residence at Craft Contemporary and Level Ground, Los Angeles and her work is part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection. In addition to her studio practice, her writing has been published in One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature. Samizay is a recipient of the Princess Grace Experimental Film Honoraria and received her MFA in photography at the University of Arizona.
My photo and video work focuses on issues of culture, nationality and gender through the layers of my own identity and history. My aim is to connect people through intimate visual stories. This impulse first began as a young, Afghan American woman in a post 9/11 landscape, and grew in subsequent years, as divisions between non-Muslim Americans and Muslims deepened. I was compelled to provide a counter depiction of Afghanistan, my birthplace, and give people the opportunity to reconnect to a shared humanity.
Much of my work explores familial history, cultural expectations, and gender norms. I examine how the repression of events is passed between generations as an unspoken trauma. I use video to recreate uncomfortable silences and reveal the secrets buried within. This personal trajectory has developed into an inquiry into collective histories of personal and public trauma.
In my aesthetic choices, I position the viewer to face injustices that continue to reverberate in society. My female characters find empowerment within their oppression, illuminating the contradictions and complexities of gender and culture, while challenging stereotypes of powerlessness and victimhood. Presenting video in multi-channel formats and in public installations disrupts traditional storytelling methods and resists myopic characterizations of the “other,” while photographs allow for a trace image.
2010 MFA, Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
2004 BA, Interdisciplinary Visual Arts and International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
5th place, FestFoto, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
2nd place prize, Focus Iran 3, Farhang Foundation, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
Sidewalk Gallery commission, 4Culture, Seattle, WA.
Best Conceptual Expression Award, 108 | Contemporary, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
e4c video commission, 4Culture, Seattle, WA.
Stand Out Teaching Award, Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division, Pittsburgh, PA.
Micro Grant, Arts Council of Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.
Princess Grace Professional Development Grant, Princess Grace Foundation-USA, New York, NY.
Society for Photographic Education Northwest Scholarship, Society for Photographic Education, Cleveland, OH.
Northern Trust Enrichment Award in Memory of Virginia Piper, Arizona Community Foundation, AZ.
1885 Graduate Fellowship in Arts and Humanities, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
College of Fine Arts Creative Achievement Award, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
2009 Princess Grace Film Honoraria, Princess Grace Foundation-USA, New York, NY.
Peter Triestman Creative Project Award, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
Best of Film, Foto.Synthesis Social Justice Film Showcase, Tucson, AZ.
Centennial Achievement Graduate Student Award, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITS, SCREENINGS (*SOLO SHOWS)
Offal, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (forthcoming).
Exile: The Land of Non-Belonging, UCR/California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA (forthcoming).
1 Roof 2 Airs, South Dakota Museum of Art, Brookings, South Dakota (forthcoming).
FestFoto 2019, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Storefront Media Gallery, 4Culture, Seattle, WA.
*4 Hands 4 Walls: An Architecture of Remembrance, Hangar Gallery, Santa Monica Art Studios, Santa Monica, CA (presented by Zanbeel Art).
Women in Windows, Lisa Derrick Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA.
Focus Iran 3: Contemporary Photography and Video, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles; Viewpoint Gallery, University of California, Irvine.
Shadows, LoosenArt, Rome, Italy.
<Light Paradise>, Yangpyeong Art Museum, Yangpyeong, South Korea (forthcoming).
There is a Portal, The James Gallery, CUNY, New York, New York; Intercultural Journeys, Philadelphia, CA; Women Center Stage Festival, New York, NY.
Surrogate, Pieter Space, Los Angeles, CA.
paraspace, Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles, CA.
Separation, Tin Flats, Los Angeles, CA.
Electron Salon, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Los Angeles, CA.
Accused of No Crime: Japanese Incarceration in America, ReflectSpace, Glendale, CA.
Addressing Power, CFA Downtown Studio, Albuquerque, NM.
What Keeps You Up at Night? The Arts at CIIS, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA; Mendocino College Art Gallery, Ukiah, CA; Gallery 7, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI; University of New Mexico Honors College, Albuquerque, NM; Centre College, Danville, KY.
Storefront Media Gallery, 4Culture, Seattle, WA.
Timely Resonance/Dissonance, McNamara Gallery, University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nevada
*Upon My Daughter, Hangar Gallery, Santa Monica Art Studios, Santa Monica, CA.
Steeped: The Art of Tea, 108 Contemporary, Tulsa, OK.
Ornate/Activate, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee, WI.
Focus Iran 2: Contemporary Photography and Video, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Viewpoint Gallery, University of California-Irvine.
Who Are You? Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA.
Water, Water Everywhere: Paean to a Vanishing Resource, The Museum at Los Gatos, CA; Francis McCray Gallery of Contemporary Art, Western New Mexico University; Boedecker Theatre and Naropa University, Boulder, CO; Upez African Humanitarian Development Project, Lagos, Nigeria; Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA; Peninsula College, Port Angeles, WA; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX; Univ. of Maine, Farmington, ME; Alexei von Schlippe Gallery, Univ. of Connecticut-Avery Point, Groton, CT; Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV; Allegheny College, Meadville, PA; Hollins University, Roanoke, VA; October 2012-2016.
Stateland: American Artists’ Filmmaking Now, Whitechapel Gallery, London; Fabrica, Brighton, UK.
Realities and Concepts, Month of Photography LA Group Show, Lucie Foundation, Santa Monica Art Studios, Santa Monica, CA.
Belonging, Wing Luke Museum, Seattle, WA.
9th Seattle South Asian Film Festival, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle, WA.
Islam Contemporary, Fayetteville State University, NC; Ellington White Contemporary, Fayetteville, NC.
e4c at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA.
Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, UT.
Same, same but different, The Natural History and Ethnography Museum, Freiburg, Germany.
Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art and Voices, International Museum of Women, San Francisco, CA.
Women’s Work: Culture and the Feminine, ArtXchange Gallery, Seattle, WA.
*im/pure, LawrieShabibi Gallery, Dubai, UAE.
Social Order: Women Photographers from Iran, India and Afghanistan, Photo Center NW, Seattle, WA.
Marrakech Art Fair, Palace Es Saadi, Marrakech, Morocco.
Heroes and Villains, Lawrie Shabibi Gallery, Dubai, U.A.E.
In These Rooms, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
METAMORPHOSIS (2-person exhibit w/ Sa'dia Rehman), The Guild Gallery, New York, NY.
*“This will be the last—.” Todd Walker Gallery, Tucson, AZ.
22nd Instants Vidéo. Marseilles, Martigues, Port-de-Bouc, Aix-en-Provence, France; Alexandria, Cairo, Egypt; Ramallah, Palestine; Damascus, Syria; Katowice, Bytom, Poland.
INVIDEO 2009, Milan, Italy.
Art Video Screening, Bio Roxy, Örebro, Sweden.
Videoholica International Video Art Festival, Varna, Bulgaria.
OK.Video-Jakarta International Video Festival, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia.
7th KaraFilm Festival, Karachi, Pakistan.
*Stereotyping the Asian Feminine. Lionel Rombach Gallery, Tucson, AZ.
Videophile, Phoenix Video Festival, Brighton, UK.
Mosaic: Cultural Identity in America, Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology, Tempe, AZ.
After Tractatus: Art in Amazonia. Universidad Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia; Universidad de Iquitos, Iquitos, Peru; Universidad del Estado del Amazonas UEA, Manaus, Brazil; Biblioteca Publica del Banco de la Republica, Bogotá, Colombia.
The Culture of Independence. The Embassy of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.
*Afghanistan: Beyond the Burqa. 911 Media Arts Center, Seattle, WA.
*Identity: A journey through music, visuals, and dance. The War Room, Seattle, WA.
Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY.
CHROMA, The Arts and CIIS, San Francisco, California.
En Foco, Bronx, NY.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.
Annabel Osberg, Artists Break Bans and Bridge Barriers in “Focus Iran 3: Contemporary Photography and Video”, AEQAI, March 31, 2019.
Orly Minazad, “Focus Iran 3: Contemporary Photography and Video,” Art and Cake, March 31, 2019.
Nadia Maiwandi, “Focus Iran 3” Photography Exhibition Turns Its Lens on Intolerance,” LA Weekly March 7, 2019.
Shana Nys Dambrot, “‘Women in Windows’ Video Installation Challenges Conventions of Female Representation,” LA Weekly, March 1, 2019.
Matt Stromberg, “Challenging the Trope of the ‘Woman in the Window,’” Hyperallergic, February 26, 2019.
Jacqui Palumbo, “5 Photographers Show What It’s Like to be a Young Iranian Today,” Artsy, February 22, 2019.
Firoozeh Khatibi, "In-depth Look at Young Iranian‘s Life Today Through the Camera‘s Lens", Javanan International Weekly Magazine, Issue #1649, January 25, 2019.
Firoozeh Khatibi, “Honar va Zendagi (Art and Life)”, Radio Hamrah, KTVW radio, January 22, 2019.
Deborah Vankin, “For some artists, ‘Focus Iran 3’ show delivers a loud message: ‘We are not alone’”, Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2019.
Vince Schleitwiler, “Video Links Muslim and Japanese American Histories at Manzanar,” International Examiner, April 2, 2018
Emily Pothast, Julia Raban and Joule Zelman, “The Best Art Shows in Seattle: Winter 2017/2018,” The Stranger, December 6, 2017.
Gazelle Samizay, “Institutional Critique,” VISIT Magazine, September 2016.
Rachel Zimmerman, “Identity Politics, “ VASA Journal of Images and Culture, February 2015.
Laura Stewart, “All Roads Lead to Brooklyn,” Art, Antiques, Design, September 28, 2014.
Leila Nadir and Zohra Saed, “Projects with Afghan-American Artists/Writers: Gazelle Samizay,” The Asian American Literary Review, September 2013.
Laura Stewart, “Artist Profile: Gazelle Samizay,” ArtBahrain.org, November 2012.
Staff Reporter, “Dubai. Galerie Lawrie Shabibi: Exposition solo de Gazelle Samizay,” Dubai Macadam, September 12, 2012.
Clinton Mclean, “Gazelle Samizay: Wedding Ambiguity,” La Lettre de la Photographie, June 2011.
Zohra Saed, “Gazelle Samizay: Claustrophobic Spaces, the Art of Tucking Away and Radical Self-Making,” Contemporary Practices, VIII (Spring 2011): 148.
Shirin Subhani, “In Dialog with Gazelle Samizay,” Courageous Creativity, (March 2011): 28.
Gazelle Samizay, “Gazelle Speaks,” One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature, Ed. by Zohra Saed and Sahar Muradi, University of Arkansas Press, 2010.
Meenakshi Thirukode, "Metamorphosis," Whitewall: Contemporary Art and Lifestyle Magazine, August 2010.
La Monica Everett-Haynes, "Dual Identity Manifest in Art," UANews, May 2010.
Uzma Rizvi, "Metamorphosis," www.theguildny.com, April 2010.
Omie Drawhorn, "Afghan influence: Video artist has Pullman roots," Moscow-Pullman Daily News, November 2008.
Albert Lanier, "Exposed: Artist Examines the Secrets of Women," Northwest Asian Weekly, October 2008.
Regina Hackett, "Stereotyping the Asian Feminine: Seattle PI's Editor's Choice," Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 2007.
Artist Panel, “Focus Iran: Artists in Conversation,” moderated by Holly Jerger, Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA.
Performance Lecture, “In Search of Baba Singh,” University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA; ONE Archive, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
Artist Panel, “Accused of No Crime: Japanese Incarceration in America,” Downtown Central Library, Glendale, CA.
Artist Panel, “Culture Clash: A Discussion For And By Third Culture Women,” Women’s Center for Creative Work, Los Angeles, CA.
Artist Talk, “Manzanar: Tracing Shadows of Oppression Across Time and Space,” Society for Photographic Education West Conference, Tahoe City, NV.
Artist Panel, “Women in Contemporary Photography and Video,” Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
Artist Panel, “It Starts from Within: Art, Power and Expression,” Museum of Latin American Art Long Beach, CA.
Artist Talk, Distant Attachments: Unsettling Contemporary Afghan Diasporic Art, City Lore Gallery, New York, NY.
Artist Talk, “Release Me: Metamorphosis and the Art of Self-Making,” Society for Photographic Education National Conference, San Francisco, CA.
Gupshup: Conversations with South Asian Women Artists, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle, WA.
Artist Talk, “Afghan/American: Family Politics in the Afghan Diaspora,” Society for Photographic Education National Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
Artist Talk, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.