Amir H. Fallah: The Facade Project
Institute of Contemporary Art San José
The ICA San José presents The Façade Project with a major mural commission from Amir H. Fallah and opens its doors to become an Official Vote Center for November 2020 election.
The Institute of Contemporary Art San José is excited to debut The Facade Project—an ongoing public art program dedicated to exploring the most critical social and political issues facing our time—by tapping Amir. H. Fallah as its inaugural artist. The new initiative will feature artists whose identities and work represent areas of our global community that have been largely overlooked by American arts institutions, thereby, offering a course correction to past patterns of inequity within the museum system. With this program, it seeks to engage new communities, reaffirm our commitment to art as a social public good, and contribute to the writing of a more inclusive art history cannon.
Making art accessible is a core part of the ICA’s mission, and this tenet has never been more vital than during the era of COVID-19 closures. This ongoing project will offer safe, outdoor, in person, socially distanced and engaging experiences for our audiences while allowing artists the opportunity to respond, push, and reinvent the limits of their practices in terms of scale, medium, concept, and the work’s relationship to the architecture and urban space of downtown San José.
According to Alison Gass, Executive Director of the ICA San José “San José is one of the most diverse big cities in the country in the fastest growing county of California, and by moving to the exterior of the building, we can ensure access to the largest cross-section of people engaging with the work. This program reflects a deepened belief that in this moment of global crisis spanning a pandemic, divisive political election, George Floyd’s murder, Black Lives Matter and the powerfully heightened awareness of systemic racism, art should help us process. It can also offer a way into conversations and inspire a moment of examination, discourse, pleasure and respite.”
Amir H. Fallah: The Facade Project will include a 50ft mural enveloping the front of the building, and two 6ft circular paintings will offer an entirely new conception of the relationship between the street and the building’s architecture. Appropriating images from across history, geographical regions, popular and art historical sources, and personal and universal references, Fallah deftly creates new meanings through a fully original language of vibrant color. He presents text and images from children’s books interspersed with visual quotations from Persian miniatures, illuminated manuscripts, American propaganda imagery (primarily around wars in South and Southeast Asia), and widely dispersed paraphernalia such as matchbooks. With this web of sources, Fallah points to his own navigation of Iranian and American identity, reminding us that being American today often means one does not identify solely with any single nationality or heritage. It is his insistence on the complexity of identity, parsed through the language of painterly delight, that makes Fallah such a powerful inaugural artist for the ICA San José Facade Project.
According to the artist “Now, more than ever, it is crucial to make artworks that speak to the issues of the day which is why I am I’m thrilled to be collaborating with the ICA San José to realize a work that addresses themes of social justice, inclusion, empathy, and humanity in such a public way.”
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