Judson-Morrissey 2021 Fellow: Anisa Hosseinnezhad

Anisa Hosseinnezhad (she/her) is an Iranian artist and filmmaker. Her film and video work focuses on issues of displacement, immigration, and the militaristic U.S. imaginary. Her research is centered on West Asia, as rendered through by western media and its frequent collaborator the U.S. military industrial complex.

Anisa was a recipient of a 2021 Judson-Morrissey Excellence in New Media Award.

Tell us a little about your background and your trajectory as an artist/ scholar.

I was trained as a filmmaker at MassArt. My early works were focused on reconfiguring my own position as an Iranian queer person. I became interested in the fraught nature of representation and the power dynamics that are created by the presence of the camera. None of my early films follow a traditional structure or script. Instead, I act as a facilitator, fostering collaborative processes and leveraging the resulting power structure to enable collective rememberings and collaborative retellings. I use these structures to explore and interrogate issues of displacement, language, cultural barriers, integration, intimacy, and individual and collective perceptions of those issues. These films take on many forms: collaborative documentaries, narrative shorts, and video performances.

I was raised in the southernmost part of Iran, in the city of Bandar Abbas. My geographical proximity to the more Western sympathetic countries on the other side of the Persian Gulf, meant that I grew up consuming the western media projected by them. It was only after I was transplanted from the city that never saw snow, to the winters of Boston, that I became interested in examining the ways in which the media I consumed as a child, mostly created in the center of the U.S. empire, perceived and imagined me and my country and region.

In my writings and research, I focus on the U.S. practice of exporting popular media to the same nations and regions that it labels as its enemies and targets with political, economic, and military intervention. How does exported media reinforce agendas and identities, and how is western ideology an inaccessible narrative of accessibility? How can artists and scholars introduce counter-narratives or perhaps enable others to produce counter-narratives?


What are some of your main influences?

I have been influenced by a myriad of Artists and filmmakers; Harun Faroucki, Kamal Aljafari, John Akomfrah, Yoshua Okón, Bahar Noorizadeh, Anne Charlotte Robertson, Deborah Stratman, to name a few.
For Wherever the War, Whoever the Enemy, I was inspired by artists working with techniques of digital erasure; Paul Pfieffer, and Ryan Woodring, as well as Stephanie Syjuco’s series of Body Double.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on an experimental-essay film that is an investigation of the oil fields dispersed around my Southern California neighborhood. I live in close proximity to 3000 of the 20000 functioning oil wells in Los Angeles County, and 4000 steps away from one of the largest active urban oil fields in the U.S. Weaving in my own experience as an Iranian living in exile, and using an array of images from google earth to archival footage, I try to make sense of the ways in which the oil itself has shaped my past and will shape my future.