UO graduate student Farhad Bahram, currently pursuing his Master in Fine Arts in photography, has recently been awarded the prestigious OUS-Sylff Fellowship for International Research. Awarded to graduate students in humanities and social science fields, the Sylff program aims to identify and nurture global leaders of high integrity who will overcome cultural boundaries to address global issues.
Originally from Iran, Farhad moved to the US in 2011 to attend the San Francisco Art Institute. However, after only a year in San Francisco, Farhad applied to UO with the goal of further developing his interests in both art and social sciences. “I found that the UO art program has a strong interdisciplinary MFA program, not just among different art majors but also between other departments and schools,” Farhad said. “For someone who practices at the intersection of art and human science, Oregon offers many fields in which to practice and do research.”
Farhad’s work seeks to connect with his audience through social engagement. “I adhere to the act of communication as the primary means to create social and cultural collaborative art,” Farhad explained. “A concept of art which is no longer conceived of as noun/object but as a verb/process.”
In one 2011 project called “Alternative Context,” Farhad sat in a chair on a busy San Francisco sidewalk and left an empty chair facing his own, waiting to see who would sit down and what connections would be made. In another ongoing project called “Dialography,” Farhad began by taking one photograph and passing it to a second person who was asked to take another photo and put it on any side of the first image before passing it on to a third, a twelfth, a sixteenth photographer, and so on. The goal of the project is to examine the ideas of authority and possession over one's art by creating an open-ended art project that no single person solely owns.
In addition to these projects, in 2009 Farhad established an international art consortium of over 30 artists around the world called Global Mission of Art (GMOA). GMOA allocates all income raised through global projects to non-profit organizations and humanitarian movements such as MAHAK (a nonprofit that supports children with cancer) and UNICEF. As a result, the Sylff Fellowship will help support a GMOA project called “Reversality,” which is currently ongoing. “In order to maintain GMOA’s charitable approach, we always need to define practical projects by considering the financial elements,” Farhad said. “The OUS-Sylff Fellowship will greatly expand the possibility of making this practice feasible during my MFA studies, specifically by supporting the Reversality project.”
Photo by Amir Farzad.