Please join us for a lecture with artist Bessma Khalaf.
Born in Iraq, Bessma Khalaf emigrated to San Diego, California in 1990 just two years after the end of the Iraq/Iran war and just before the first Gulf War - those years of her childhood are not lost in the work. Balancing mischievousness and malice, Khalaf’s processes of degradation (burning, smashing, consuming, etc.) explore the boundaries of landscape, place, and image. Khalaf proposes that beyond the nihilism of destruction, voids and absences possess generative possibilities, either in nature or in her practice. Figuratively and pictorially, voids carve an ambiguous space in the representation of landscape and the documentation of performance. Entrenched in process, Khalaf mixes mysticism, futility, and endurance when pitting herself against the overwhelming vastness of her surroundings, and the largeness of the romantic landscape.
Using both appropriated imagery and in situ events, Khalaf executes performances for the camera such that images and actions break down each other, and occasionally reach a compromise. Khalaf’s images and locations have a strange familiarity, yet anonymity. They’re places that we, as consumers of mass media and living bodies, recognize, yet really don’t know. Khalaf earned her Bachelor degree from San Diego State University in 2002 and a Masters of Fine Arts in photography from California College of Art in 2007. Her work has been exhibited locally and nationally. She currently lives and works in Oakland, California.