Samira Yamin

Samira YaminArtist’s Statement

I began collecting war photographs after 9/11, but it was through working with them that I came to understand the real use-value of images: that they do not represent the world so much as create it; they distill information from the infinite. This led to Geometries, a series produced by mapping one system of knowledge production, sacred geometries, onto another, TIME Magazine articles about current wars in the Middle East. In Islam, sacred geometries are visual representations of the structure of the universe, of the 99 names of God – The Infinite, The Truth, The Just, etc – but in this context also suggest an ornamental, read Orientalist, image of Islam and of the Islamic world. In other words, the patterns become the gaze that mediates a view, and an understanding, of not only the war photography in question, but also the wars themselves.

The work has since grown into a wider meditation on representation, and its relationship to information and knowledge. To this end, my work almost exclusively begins with appropriated sources – war photography, my grandfather’s negatives – and dissecting and reorganizing them according to disparate systems – sacred geometry, neurological visual distortions, Modernist experiments in geometric abstraction – resulting in a collision of representation and abstraction and the confusion of objectivity and subjectivity.

As the work has shifted though, so have the wars on the ground. Conflicts have moved from military invasions to civil wars, uprisings, things for which we don’t yet have language. I’ve found it necessary to step back and ask if sacred geometries represent the universe as a place of order and structure, then where in the world can one find evidence of that structure? Can the structure of the natural world make sense of human behavior? Through winding paths, I finally arrived at 18th century sound/dissonance vibration patterns, with which I am now, for the first time, designing my own patterns to take back to the work.



Solo Exhibition

We Will Not Fail, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA

Selected Group Exhibitions

Mashrabiya: The Art of Looking Back, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Presence: Reflections on the Middle East, Metropolitan State University of Denver Center for Visual Art, Denver, CO

Aftermath: Resonance of War, Displacement and Loss, SAC Arts at the Santora Building, Santa Ana College, Santa Ana, CA

Displacements: The Craft Practices of Golnar Adili and Samira Yamin, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Selected Public Talks/ Interviews

“Breaking News: Arpad Kovasc and Rebecca Morse in Conversation with Carter Mull and Samira Yamin,” Photo LA, Los Angeles, CA, panelist

Conversation with Gina Osterloh, The People Radio, Los Angeles, CA
Exhibiting Artist Panel Discussion, Camera Club Of New York, New York, NY, panelist
Politicized Aesthetics in the Work of Contemporary Iranian Artists, Iranian Studies Conference, SJSU, San Jose, CA, panelist

Selected Bibliography

i see in the sea nothing except the sea. i don’t see a shore. i don’t see a dove. Heather O’Brien, exhibition publication

“Samira Yamin and The Craft of Consciousness,” Evan Senn, KCET ArtBound, editorial

Artforum Critic’s Pick: Los Angeles, Carmen Winant,, review
“We Will Not Fail’ Meticulously Upends Mass Media Imagery,” Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, review


Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Alumni Residency | Captiva, FL

Djerassi Resident Artists Program | Woodside, CA

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation | Captiva, FL
Headlands Center for the Arts | Sausalito, CA


California Community Foundation | Visual Artist Fellowship

Joan Mitchell Foundation | Painters and Sculptors Grant


M.F.A., Studio Art, University of California, Irvine

B.A., Studio Art, University of California, Los Angeles
B.A., Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles