Banner image: 'Again' (2020) by Panteha Abareshi. Image courtesy of the artist.

Affiliation with Shape: Panteha contributed to the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading.

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Panteha Abareshi is an artist based in Los Angeles, California. Panteha’s practice is rooted in their existence living with sickle cell zero beta thalassemia - a genetic blood disorder that causes debilitating pain. The coalescence of Panteha’s identity means she is fully immersed in ‘Otherness,’ by her own definition. Through her work, Panteha pushes back against the lack of representation endemic in the arts and is able to discuss the complexities of living within a body that is highly monitored, constantly examined, and made to feel like a specimen. Taking images of recognisable human forms and reducing them to gestural shapes, Panteha juxtaposes her own body’s objectification and dissection.12 landscape photos set in a grid atop a red and green background. The background looks pixelated, as though made up of static. The red circle is in the middle and bleeds out into the green background. The 12 photos are all of the artist. She wears surgical face masks, though not always on her face. Each photo is the artist in a different pose. Sometimes, there are multiple face masks involved, often covering her breasts as well as her mouth.

About the works Panteha contributed to The Future is Loading...

Not better yet (2019)

Shot on Super 8 and VHS film. This performance cuts between audio of doctors and nurses recorded during a hospital stay and clips of Panteha contorting her own body in painful, performative ways. The audio documents the disrespect, disregard, and lack of understanding Panteha experienced; the feeling of being both emotionally and physically unsafe. It sits in direct contrast to Panteha’s own performance which, though painful, demonstrates self-control and agency, making all the more stark the powerlessness engendered by “mainstream” medicine and healthcare. 

Again (2020)

Part of a series of 2D works created while bed-bound during quarantine. ‘Again’ documents Panteha’s experience with disability as non-linear and frustrating; accepting the perpetual state of reckoning she lives in as her body deteriorates. 

For Parts (2020)

Panteha created this VHS video work during quarantine using footage from a performance earlier in the year. The video contemplates the emotional and bodily changes that occur as a result of receiving medical implants and prosthetics. By exploring her own body as inorganic, Panteha outlines the ways in which non-disabled standards of performance, of appearance, and behaviour dictate what we consider “human” and what we consider “subhuman.” Tracing her experience, Panteha exposes the consequences of this systemic segregation in which the disabled and sick experience is ostracised. The performance and audio, recorded during a hospital visit, force the audience to reckon with the binary between body and machine, organic and inorganic; is that a heartbeat or a machine? In unpicking this liminal space, Panteha is further making a claim about her own lived experience.

Watch Panteha discuss the work they contributed to The Future is Loading exhibition...

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