Hall of Reflections at the Persian Center 2003
Hall of Reflections is a multi-dimensional art project that chronicles the complex migrant experiences of men and women of the Iranian Diaspora in Northern California through site-specific and web-based installations. Drawing on Persian and Islamic designs and structures, Hall of Reflections creates a unique archive of personal photographs and narratives to explore themes of loss, preservation, displacement and belonging, specific to the historical experience of Iranian immigrants.
The stories and photographs presented in various installations create a much needed space where Iranians and their U.S. born children are represented positively, and where, through a complex lens, their memories and histories are celebrated and acknowledged as human stories. Hall of Reflections presents a wide range of immigrant experiences, countering the de-humanizing and hostile images of Iranians and Moslems portrayed in the popular media. By bringing personal stories out of isolation and presenting them collectively as part of a larger narrative of a people, the project gives voice to a community that has been rendered invisible or reduced to negative stereotypes.
Hall of Reflections installations are inspired by the traditional mirrored gathering halls of historical buildings in Iran. Displaying photographs and texts on mirror and glass, the installation makes available private testimonies of migration, exile, displacement and assimilation belonging to a cross-generational and cross-cultural mix of Bay Area Iranians.
The project was initiated as a Creative Work Fund 2000 project where Persian Center collaborated with artist Taraneh Hemami to invite the community to participate in sharing their stories. With the help of the community and the participation and the collaboration of many individuals and organizations, the project has collected materials from over 100 Iranians and Iranian- Americans. The materials have been gathered by conducting personal interviews, through correspondence as well as in a series of collaborative writing workshops.
Inspired by the Talar, traditional mirrored gathering hall of historical buildings in Iran, the permanent installation at the Persian Center presents an assemblage of photographs and texts embedded in mirror and glass structures and provides a public space of gathering and exchange for the Iranian community.