Prior to arriving in the United States in 2014, Helia Pouyanfar, who was born in Iran, lived as a refugee for three years. She says, “I learned firsthand that bodily connection to place is brutalized by the dividing nature of borders.” The multifaceted experience of placelessness influenced her exploration of ideas around home, migration, and place:

It is the irony of it that interests me the most; what makes a home is the     groundedness it offers to the body. Home is the permission to stay. Once the moment of exile arrives, however, this permission to stay gives way to a new reality. Now, Home is a metaphor that latches onto things, as one moves through the world. Eventually, this uprooted sense of belonging finds solace in its permanently transient state.

Inspired by her cultural background of Sufism and eastern mysticism, Pouyanfar utilizes materials like wallpaper, suitcases, cbricks, cement, doors, and windows in an examination of passage and the relationship between liminal spaces and transit. “I endeavor to illustrate how the refugee body in its permanently transient state possesses an ephemeral sense of belonging and attempts to negotiate and reconcile placeless-ness in every space it enters,” she says.

Find more on the artist’s website and Instagram.


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