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Bulletin: A Theory of Survival Project

January  15, 2013 - December  31, 2014

Arts at CIIS   


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Bulletin: A Theory of Survival Project

Bulletin: A Theory of Survival Project

Taraneh Hemami

Sahar Driver
Shima Khaki
Hsiang Lu Meng
Targol Mesbah
Manijeh Nasrabadi
Strider Patton

During a sixteen-month residence at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), artist Taraneh Hemami worked with collaborators to conduct research that informed the creation of Bulletin: a Theory of Survival project, an exhibition and publication project making visible intentionally erased histories of dissent in Iran. In the current phase of the residency, Hemami will be working on a web-based presentation of Bulletin.


A sixteen month-long residency at CIIS in collaboration with The Arts at CIIS and the Anthropology and Social Change (ASC) program, Theory of Survival engages with a historical archive belonging to the library of the Iranian Students Association of Northern California, active from 1964 to 1982. The collected materials include theoretical discourse, original essays, political analysis, translations, as well as posters and newspapers reflecting both Iranian and Bay Area history during these critical and politically tumultuous years.

Giving context to this local archive of dissent, Hemami worked with faculty and students during her residency to create a timeline that maps the complex layers of Iranian history-from monarchy through years of resistance and revolution. Interwoven in this timeline are the contemporaneous threads of U.S. history and intervention, in addition to the local and global political landscape. Bulletin borrows its title from a research-based monthly magazine published by the Confederation of Iranian Students in the '60s and '70s that focused on data and analysis of Iranian and world history. The design responded to the linear exhibition space at CIIS to create a path through modern political history, inviting closer inspection and engagement.  

Theory of Survival is a reference to a 1969 revolutionary pamphlet, The Necessity of Armed Struggle and the Refutation of the Theory of Survival, a manifesto promoting Marxist-Leninist urban guerilla warfare against the Shah's regime, which became the manifesto for the underground movement Fada¯'iyan-e Khalq (Devotees of the People).   In Fall 2014 The Arts at CIIS will host a public panel discussion on both Iranian student activism and the complex task of bringing history into the present. This collaborative residency offers an expansive opportunity to bring international scholars into the Institute, and partner with other local arts organizations-The Luggage Store and Southern Exposure.  

This project was made possible with support from Cal Humanities, in partnership with the NEH. Experience more at www.calhum.org.

CIIS Main Building, 1453 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103


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