LETTERS SERIES (2006 - present)

Letters series (2006 - present)

The Letters series originated from a process that began when Shadi started to go through her boxes of letters more than a decade ago. At the time, Shadi re-read many of the letters, and discovered how much they conveyed, not only of the news of people and events back in Iran, but also how she had processed or understood them at an earlier age. They became part of her story, her history, her memories, but the physical letters simply resided in a box under the bed as a personal archive. She began to cut up the letters, not as a destructive act, but rather in seeking their essence, and to find some meaningful association with the words penned on paper. This led her to cut them up, to find the most important, and powerful parts—as if an act of therapeutic recovery. After some time passed, she revisited the fragments of the letters, and decided to incorporate them into her art. 


These original letters (uncopied and unscanned) are the correspondence between Shadi and her friends in Iran after she first emigrated to the United States. At that time, writing letters was still the most practical way to keep in touch with friends and relatives back home (there was no internet, Skype, Facebook, or texting!). Letters, lovingly written by hand, conveyed intense emotions, reflected the pain of separation, but also the joy of achievement and growth. The contemplative and slow medium of hand-written letters now appear as nostalgic objects from the past, both a historical pre-internet past, but also a personal past in another time and place. The fragments of these letters originally in Persian are cut up in such a way that they are no longer distinct or legible, but are the distillation of the feelings and sentiments from one person to another. Letters are carefully cut by hand and mounted on wood by glue or with nails and some of the letters she received from friends are dyed in tea, coffee, wine, and soy sauce to convey the warmth of the emotions. Other letters in this series are those penned by Shadi and sent back to Iran. In these letters, Shadi uses no dye, and is simply cutting and mounting the blue handwriting on white paper to show the effect of her own emotions and moods as she adjusts to a new location and culture. By cutting these letters into fragments and rearranging them in minimal compositions, Shadi at once, destroys and preserves these valuable objects; she not only highlights their meaning as part of her life as an artist, but also wants the viewer to experience the distortions and reinventions of an immigrant archive. 

​© 2017, Shadi Yousefian.  All rights reserved.