Elnaz Javani: Your Residue ته مانده تو

Opening: Friday, Feb 21, 2020 6 – 9 pm
Friday, Feb 21 – Mar 28, 2020

906 N. Ashland, Chicago, IL 60622

We are thrilled to announce our upcoming solo exhibition Elnaz Javani: Your Residue ته مانده تو, which centers around the Iranian born artist’s fabric based objects and installations. Created between 2013 and 2019, the work presented in Your Residue is tied to the physicality of the human body, its psychology in the face of cultural uprooting, and the artist’s own experiences balancing her dual identities as an Iranian and an American.

Her stories, as well as fictional narratives, are told through her Inner Compulsion series as an attempt to understand the way multiple identities can live within one person and their body. The embroidered illustrations depict the human figure in moments of disorientation and disruption, both mental and physical. The series was started in 2013 after Javani moved to the United States as an outlet to work through her understanding of identity beyond culture and geographical boundaries. Concepts of displacement and translocation are also exemplified in her fiber objects My Effigies and Cell whose forms are variable depending on how and where they are placed.

The body as well as time and identity, is further examined in Javani’s Fate series, which is fabricated from coats gathered during the artist’s tenure working at a women’s rights organization in Iran. Through her additive and reductive process of sewing and manipulating the found coats Javani forces them to reveal their vulnerabilities while simultaneously losing their functionality. The material provides her with hints of the memories, experiences, and identities of the coats’ previous owners, which then informs fictional stories that she embroiders in Farsi calligraphy.

Javani’s deeply sensitive work reminds us that even when it appears that the contemporary fabric of humanity is being held together by a thread, these interwoven stories keep it firmly stitched together.


Elnaz Javani’s body of work expands the purview of the corporeal and psychological stratum of the human body. Javani’s fabric-based installations offer an enthralling and intricate narrative that is conceptually and formally sutured by a multitude of embroidery techniques, drawing styles, and narrative strategies.

The coalescence of human bodies in which she situates her stories leads one to speculate about the many layers unfolding in front of one’s eyes. In most of Javani’s work, limits and boundaries are often questioned and tested. When does the body cease to be physically present? Is this imaginary border the surface of one’s skin, clothing, or is it rather something beyond its physical attributes? For Javani, the bodily limits are quite elastic and bleed into the social milieu wherein encounters, reductions, and frictions occur.
Being a human is a messy experience, so are the limits of telling a story of how it feels to be one.

Elnaz Javani’s process is deeply rooted in employing embroidery to render visible the latent narratives, traumas, and processes of immigration, waiting, and hurdles of bureaucracy. Javani has no intention of concealing her experiences. This radical visibility of trauma perhaps is at the core of Javani’s work––every minute trauma and memory matters, so does every single stitch. Javani’s objects can be vulnerable, humorous, and empathetic––they may even be too human to be considered a static object.

One reason behind this, is her choice of working with found objects, discarded clothing from thrift shops, and scraps. These disposable materials are part of an incessant cycle of reusing, discarding, forgetting, and abandoning. In this perspective, Javani’s works oscillate between searching for the potentiality of an object to have a hitherto assigned meaning, or whether at some point during this cycle one may be able to interrupt, pause and search for the forgotten memories within the object or thoroughly strip it of any meaning it may have had.

Javani’s work is not shy of dealing with the difficulties of being a human––of learning, remembering, living and dying. It is hard to be a human––it is a ceaseless and radical fatigue.

Sanaz Sohrabi



Elnaz Javani is an Iranian artist, researcher, and educator currently residing in Chicago. She received a bachelor of fine arts from Tehran University of Art and Masters in Studio Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she was the recipient of the New Artist Society Merit Scholarship. Elnaz Javani works between the media of drawing, installation and textiles. She uses fragmented images and language, incorporating a wide range of media to explore the issue of identity and place, both collective and individual. She also seeks to define and codify her composite identity in relationship to her environment.

Javani is a current fellow at the Define American and Kala Art institute. She has exhibited nationally and internationally in the USA, Spain, Iran, France, Colombia, Turkey, UAE, Germany and Switzerland, such as at the CAC Ses Voltes International Residency Program (Spain), the Luminas’ Cultural Foundation of Visual Arts and Sullivan Galleries (Chicago), the Mottahedan Projects (Dubai), the Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal USA Presidential Award Exhibitions (Chicago), The Munich cultural center at Pasinger Fabrik (Germany), “Le Commun”Bâtiment d’Art Contemporain (Geneva), San Telmo Museum, Galicia Contemporary Art Centerand Arts Santa Mónica Barcelona (Spain), and at Espacio El Dorado Bogotá (Colombia).

Preview images – HERE


Image: Detail of My Effigies Installation, 2018, White Muslin fabric, Hand sewn with black thread covered the external layer with fragmented stories in Farsi Calligraphy