Marjan Moghaddam

Digital art innovator Marjan Moghaddam uses a unique style of 3d CG figuration and animation to explore digital embodiment for both traditionally curated art exhibitions and commissions and as interventions. For her interventions, she visually hacks her digital artworks into art fairs and gallery shows, as a means of democratising exhibition spaces, while engaging in a thought-provoking and critical discourse.

Elizabeth Richardson |  Ed Cristina Brooks |  11 May 2021

Women in Digital Art: Marjan Moghaddam - Agora Digital Art
Website

Marjan Moghaddam is an award-winning digital artist and animator who primarily works in computer graphics (CG) and digital 3D. She is internationally recognised for her original style of figuration that merges the ideals of sculpture and animation. Moghaddam defines this unique approach to the digital embodiment as Chronometric Sculpture. She has a prolific exhibition history that spans four decades, notably exhibiting at the Smithsonian.

Her influential #arthacks concept is an ongoing collection of interventions that have been exhibited on Instagram since 2016. With these interventions, she actively engages in social and political critical discourse, seeking to democratise curation as well as exhibition spaces by visually hacking found footage of art fairs, galleries and museums. Moghaddam lives and works in Brooklyn, where she is a Tenured, Full Professor of CG, Animation and mixed reality (XR) at Long Island University.

Current Event

Moghaddam is completing a public art commission for the upcoming Digital Sculpture Trail at Hillsborough Castle Forest Park in Northern Ireland. This new media art trail features two pieces by Moghaddam: a physical sculpture of one of her signature glitched figures, as well as a permanent AR piece. She has been working on an AR story experience for the Healium AR app.

What’s next?

Moghaddam also has a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art (MoCDA) in June 2021. Titled The Digital Embodiments and Interventions of Marjan Moghaddam, the exhibition will span multiple decades of her digital art practice across three separate spaces within the museum.

Did you know?

Moghaddam’s first exhibited animation was created with a Commodore 64 computer in 1984. She was the featured artist for the launch of DOTCOM gallery and International Forum for the Digital Arts, a digital art gallery based both online and in New York, in 1996. In the 1990s, her immersive virtual reality installation, The Box, was exhibited in Soho galleries before being obtained by internet pioneer Josh Harris. 

Marjan Moghaddam, Crypto Art Rides The Bull (2021) @ Courtesy of the artist

Moghaddam’s Crypto Art Rides The Bull was featured in the F*ck Wall Street art show in March 2021 at Stellabelle’s Museum in Cryptovoxels. This new XR digital embodiment, part of her #arthack series, was staged outside the New York Stock Exchange, reimagining the Wall Street Bull with a rider who represented Crypto Art. Moghaddam told SuperRare Editorial, “I wanted the Crypto Art riding the Wall Street Bull to be female and covered in a rainbow of paint, because one of the biggest disruptions of Crypto Art as a movement is the presence of women and artists of colour in the nascent scene.” In addition, Moghaddam created a large sculptural voxel version of the Crypto Art rider and the Wall Street Bull. The sculpture was exhibited on top of Stellabelle’s museum for the duration of the art show and hid part of a museum-wide treasure hunt. 

Crypto Art Rides The Bull was also exhibited as part of the Graffiti Queens Virtual Art Exhibition in Decentraland – the first all-women, no application and no artist limit Crypto Art Show. The exhibition, curated by CryptoYuna, was the largest women’s Crypto Art show up to that point, presenting the work of over 200 artists in the Vegas City Skatepark Gallery and surrounding area.

Featured Projects

Marjan Moghaddam, Kavanaugh Haunted my Frieze London #ArtHack (2018), © Marjan Moghaddam Courtesy of the artist.

 #GlitchGoddess (2018)

Moghaddam’s #GlitchGoddess was born out of her #arthack interventions, and first emerged in her Kavanaugh Haunted my Frieze London #ArtHack in 2018. #GlitchGoddess calls attention to feminist critical discourse and inequalities in the art world through hacking exhibition spaces. Like many of Moghaddam’s #arthacks, GlitchGoddess interventions are frequently created and posted while art fairs are happening, giving her only a couple of days to create a concept, render it, and upload it to social media. Moghaddam explains that this timeframe encourages her to be spontaneous and apply a creative stream-of-consciousness approach to her work. 

GlitchGoddess occupies XR; she emerges in hybridised spaces of possibility, digital embodiment and transformational critical discourse. Through Chronometric Sculpture and 3dCG figuration, Moghaddam’s figures embody both plasticity and digital aesthetic of glitch. “She is animated between slender, heavy, young, old, pregnant, curvy, stylised and also abstract,” Moghaddam explains in an interview with the website Art Spiel.

Marjan Moghaddam, Glitched Goddesses With Portrait of Picasso & Wood at Art Basel Miami #ArtHack (2018). © Marjan Moghaddam Courtesy of the artist.

Moghaddam’s #arthacks frequently feature music, memes and voiceovers in addition to digital bodies. The Glitched Goddesses With Portrait of Picasso & Wood #arthack of Art Basel Miami in 2018 included the voices of artists Jillian Mayer, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Joan Semmel, Faith Ringgold and Barbara Zucker from a documentary about inequality in the art world. “It’s been an ongoing battle,” one artist says. “Every woman has stories of being excluded,” says another. These voiceover extracts merge to create a dialogue that follows the Glitch Goddesses through the Art Basel Miami exhibition space. 

Glitched Goddesses With Portrait of Picasso & Wood amassed over three million views on Moghaddam’s public Facebook page, and millions of additional views through other top Net art channels. Cumulatively, GlitchGoddess now has over 18 million views. Moghaddam’s work has sparked conversations about the body, sexuality and inequality, and she has since used comments on #arthack posts as voiceovers for various AR activations at curated exhibitions.

Marjan Moghaddam, Glitched Odalisque at the Whitney #ArtHack (2017) © Marjan Moghaddam Courtesy of the artist.

Every GlitchGoddess possesses a dialogue of embodiment and individual art-historical intervention. A recurring figure in Moghaddam’s practice is Glitched Odalisque, a digital embodiment that responds to the harem girl fantasy of nineteenth-century Orientalist paintings. Glitched Odalisque reclaims the gaze of white male European painters, taking full command of her sexuality. As Moghaddam highlights in an art talk shared on her Instagram, “glitching her was playing with that idea of sexuality. Her sexuality isn’t about ‘I want you to want me.’” She adds, “Her sexuality is: ‘I glitch the hell out of myself if I feel like it.’”

Marjan Moghaddam, Non-Binary Nude Glitch at Gagosian Gallery show The Nude: from Modigliani to Currin” #ArtHack (2016), © Marjan Moghaddam Courtesy of the artist.

Non-Binary Nude (2016)

Moghaddam’s hack of the Gagosian’s landmark Nude: From Modigliani to Currin exhibition in 2016 sought to interrogate why, in a survey show that traced the nude through 100 years of art history until the 21st century, there was no representation of a non-binary or digital nude. Moghaddam also hacked the Non-Binary Nude at The Armory Show, New York, in 2017. The same figure was then also hacked into other art fairs such as outside of Bryce Wolkowitz’s booth at Armory 2017 with the art dealer in the background, and then exhibited as an animated painting, Non-Binary Nude Glitch in Field of Fractal and Generative Filigrees, as part of the Post Identity pavilion of The Wrong Digital Art Biennial, 2017. 

Marjan Moghaddam, Taking The Knee Art Basel 2020 #ArtHack (2020), © Marjan Moghaddam Courtesy of the artist.

Taking The Knee in Solidarity (2020)

Taking The Knee is a recent digital embodiment #arthack of Art Basel 2020. It was made in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that began in the US in 2013 as a response to police brutality. It was originally posted to social media while the fair was taking place in June. The sound art accompanying the Chronometric Sculpture is also by Moghaddam. The Crypto Art version replaced the original artwork on the Art Basel page with all GAN-generated art, and has since sold into the primary and secondary NFT art markets on Superrare. 

Agora Talk

WOMEN IN DIGITAL ART: Marjan Moghaddam - AGORA DIGITAL ART
Curator and Moderator: Elizabeth Richardson

As a pioneer in 3dCG and Digital Art, Marjan Moghaddam will take us on a journey through feminism, embodiment and #arthack interventions, spanning her career from the early days to the established artist today.

Check this talk

Article: Graffiti Queens

Marjan Moghaddam, Non-Binary Nude Glitch with Generative Fractal Filigrees (2020) © Courtesy of the artist.

Key achievements

Marjan Moghaddam, presentation (2021) © Courtesy of the artist.

Moghaddam has exhibited print and sculpture triggered AR projects of her #arthacks at galleries and international festivals. In 2018, two of her Chronometric Sculpture AR art installations were exhibited at the Smithsonian and Washington National Cathedral as a part of the By the People Arts Festival, commissioned by the Halcyon Arts Foundation and curated by Artechouse.

Her #arthacks were shortlisted for the International Digital Sculpture Prize in 2017, with an AR exhibition of the Winners at Ulm museum, Germany. She has received numerous grants for her pioneering work, including the Rockefeller Fund, NY Department of Cultural Affairs, Brooklyn Arts Council and the Experimental Television Fund. In 2019 Moghaddam featured in the Forbes Top AR Apps, Installations and Activations List for her #arthacks. She has been an official selection of the Siggraph Computer Animation Festival four times. 

In 2019 Moghaddam was an official AR Adobe artist-in-residence for Project Aero. More recently, she was featured in the 2021 BBC Click documentary, When Art Goes Digital.

Solo Shows

2021, Solo exhibition, MoCDA
2014, SONICA Series, The Yard, curated by IFAC, LES, NY, US 

2019, Piramit Sanat Art Center İstanbul, Turkey

2013, Of Revolutions, LACDA, Los Angeles, US

Group shows / Festivals

2021, Digital Sculpture Trail (permanent), Hillsborough Castle Forest Park, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland

2021, Graffiti Queens, Vegas City Skatepark Gallery, Decentraland

2021, F*ck Wall Street, Stellabelle’s Museum, Cryptovoxels, Online exhibition

2020,Forget What You Already Know, Art of Our Century Gallery, New York, US

2019, City Unseen 2.0, Snap Orlando Art Center, Orlando Florida, US

Museums or Fairs

2019, Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair, Istanbul Turkey

2019, Main Pavilion, The Wrong Digital Art Biennial

2019, Make It Immersive, Adobe Festival of the Digital Arts, New York, US

2018, Halcyon, By The People Arts Festival, Smithsonian and Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC, US

2017, Post Identity Pavilion, The Wrong Digital Art Biennale

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