The sky is higher here at Transmitter

Featured Project: with curator Leila Seyedzadeh

Hedwig Brouckaert, Flesh of Light (I), 2017, Mixed media on archival inkjet print on paper, 33.8 x 43.34 inches, photo courtesy of Hedwig Brouckaert.

The artworks featured in the group show The Sky is higher here at Transmitter in Brooklyn reference the subtle boundaries between what is free of the physical and what is not—how can we mirror what we find in the sky and what does it reveal in us? Through a variety of mediums such as painting, textile, photography, textile weaving, and mixed media, Hedwig Brouckaert, Simone Couto, Edi Dai, Saba Farhoudnia, Victoria Martinez, and Ingrid Tremblay explore the vastness of the sky and find refuge in this great space with no borders. The curator of the show, Leila Seyedzadeh sheds some light on the curatorial vision and process.

Tell me about the genesis of this group show.

One of the first things that got my attention from day one of my immigration experience to the USA was that the sky is higher here than what I felt back in Tehran. I still don’t know if there is a scientific reason behind it, or just me seeing the sky this way in North America. Later on, I visited Mexico City and Toronto, and I noticed the sky was high and vast. And when I traveled back to Tehran, I looked carefully and saw the sky was not the same, and I tried to understand why it was lower there. Later on, I wrote a poem about how I see the sky, how it has different blue colors in other places, and about my challenges in my journey. And this poem is the core of this exhibition. And by gathering these pieces and the stories each artist transfers regarding my poem The Sky is Higher Here as their source of inspiration. Interestingly, when I presented the idea and shared the poem with artists, they connected quickly and got inspired to create these artworks.

Installation view, right: Simone Couto, Cloud in Trousers, 2022, Mixed media on denim donated by NYC immigrants, 64 x 56 inches. left: Victoria Martinez, A page from my dream book, 2022, cotton, silk, yarn, and hibiscus dye, 20 x 18 inches. photo courtesy of Transmitter.

What is your curatorial vision for the exhibition?

Each artist in this show explores in different materials to create a body of work about the theme of the sky. One of the artists speaks about the grief of losing her sister, which are reflected in the blue sky with fragments of collage bodies as the idea of becoming free of the physical, becoming formless. Another artist talks about the sky of the east and west coast of the USA – although they are in opposite directions, they can both still generate the same type of peaceful feeling. Our relation to scale and time also shifts when facing these landscapes.

Installation view, right: Saba Farhoudnia, Between the two sighs, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 90 inches. left: Ingrid Tremblay, Looking Further, 2016, archive pigment print on cotton percale, site specific. photo courtesy of Transmitter.

We are different, but, at the same time, we all go through ups and downs in life, immigrate to a new place, or travel to different landscapes, and everyone can share these in their own way. Being in New York among a diverse group of artists from all around the world inspired me to listen to stories that speak about the same content, but which come from such different places – from Iran, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the USA. These artists share their ideas through painting, photography, textile, mixed media, and more. I wanted to connect the challenges of life with a natural element, and in the end, the sky was the best one that reflected all of them without any limits.

By studying the Moon and the stars and connecting our mood to how we smile or cry, we are still trying to make sense of the sky surrounding us. Despite the insurmountable distance between Earth and sky and its defiance to be understood, these artists search to make it accessible and deeply familiar. We know that only something as magnificent, shapeless, and borderless as the sky can hold the sum of all our heart’s grief and hopes without ever pouring over. This collection explores time, location, displacement, memory, grief, hope, and identity.

Edi Dai, Thoroughfare Vessel, 2022, Handwoven canvas made of various undyed colored cotton, 14 x 12 inches. Photo courtesy Edi Dai.

Leila Seyedzadeh is an Iranian interdisciplinary artist and curator who addresses ideas of imaginary landscapes and focuses on natural subjects such as mountains extracted from the subconscious. It is as if she is attaching pieces of her memories, and by doing so, she is destroying their meaning, thus creating a landscape immersed in placelessness. Her curatorial project was born out of a collective search to dissolve the unseen boundaries between what is free of the physical and what is not. She holds an MFA in Painting & Printmaking from Yale School of Art in 2019, a BFA in Painting from The University of Science and Culture in 2014. She was a recipient of the H.Lee Hirsche prize in 2019 and Soma Summer fellowship at Yale School of Art in 2018. Her work and curatorial project have been featured in ANTE Mag, Museum of non-visible art and Fleur.

The sky is higher here at Transmitter 1329 Willoughby Avenue, 2A Brooklyn, NY 11237 Curated by Leila Seyedzadeh
Works by Hedwig Brouckaert, Simone Couto, Edi Dai, Saba Farhoudnia, Victoria Martinez, and Ingrid Tremblay, February 19th to March 27th, 2022