Shamayel Shalizi is a queer multimedia artist who grew up between the U.S.A, Russia & Afghanistan. Her Afghan parents were refugees who fled to the U.S.A after the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Starting out painting & sculpting, Shamayel has progressed to create more conceptual & diverse pieces – even co-founding & designing the jewelry line Blingistan. She incorporates her MA in Social Anthropology with her art by exploring themes of the self, the “other”, & identity. She is a nomad but will always call Kabul & Los Angeles her homes.
Astra Pentaxia is a film portrait artist who celebrates dreamscapes within reality. Using tight composition, curated lighting and suggestive props, she constructs scenes with her subjects to challenge perceptions, whether that is challenging the perception of the audience or the perception of the subject themselves.”
Tell Me Who I Am is a project about identity. Shamayel is not Indian, she is not Turkish, she is not a party girl nor a suicide bomber – yet all of these identities and countless more have been wrongfully assigned to her throughout her life. The 21 portraits created in San Francisco by Astra & Shamayel in under a month’s time at Astra’s home “The Rainbow Manor”, underline the tendency of the audience to judge and to pigeonhole, a behavior which renders Shamayel as one dimensional & skews one’s own perception of themselves.