A deeply personal portrait of Iranian Armenian American artist Sonia Balassanian.
Imagine Otherwise is an anthology of books on queer, non-binary, or female-identifying artists who have produced a substantial body of work but may have no publication concerning their art or life in print at the time of commissioning.
The overall proposition, to "imagine" a world "otherwise," stems from the desire to find a different way of looking, writing, and reading about art.
Can art be examined unreservedly, unburdened of the limits imposed by any perceived "dominant hand" of hegemony?
In the first volume of the series, author, Dr. Omar Kholeif reveals a deeply personal portrait of Iranian Armenian American artist Sonia Balassanian. Weaving through poetry, memoir, and historical anecdote, Kholeif explodes the edges of the New York art world, tracing the contours of Balassanian's world.
Sonia Balassanian was born to a family of Armenian heritage, in Arak, near Isfahan, Iran in 1942. Uninspired by the rigid curriculum in which she was instructed, the young artist began her creative pursuits by writing poetry. After her marriage to Edward Balassanian at the age of twenty-three, she moved with her husband to the US to study fine art, where she principally lives and works to this day. With a career spanning more than five decades, Sonia Balassanian's art is celebrated for its political fervor, as it is for its lyricism, and its occasional whimsy, which sparkles despite the political chaos and turmoil that has surrounded her.
Omar Kholeif (born in Cairo, lives and works in Chicago and London) is a writer, curator, editor, and broadcaster. He has written extensively on art in a global context, focusing on art that intersects with the Internet, as well as works of art from emerging geographic territories that have yet to be seen in the mainstream. He is the author and or editor of over two-dozen books and his writing has appeared in The Guardian, Wired, frieze, and Artforum, Mousse, among numerous publications. Media organs such as, The New York Times, BBC, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, GQ, The Economist, The Art Newspaper, Vice, The New Scientist, and others, have profiled his work.