Labkhand Olfatmanesh is a multidisciplinary artist examining topics of feminism, race, and isolation. Her works explores how these forces take dual shape as an immigrant to the United States and in her home country of Iran. Her recent photo and video work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions including Photo London U.K.; Rencontres d’Arles, France; Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles; 4 Culture, Seattle; FestFoto, Brazil; POST Gallery; the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; and the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. She has been awarded high honors from The Los Angeles Center of Photography (First Place, 2018) and LensCulture (Jurors Pick, 2018), among others. She earned a B.A. in graphic design at Azad University in Tehran, Iran and a Photography Certificate in 2006 at the London Academy of Radio, Film, and Television. Her work has also been featured by the United Nations, the British Council, and Australian High Commission (2005) as well as at the Peace of Utrecht Festival, Netherlands (2006) and in the UNESCO Palace, Lebanon (2006). She was also a member of The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). , She is member of collective leadership team at Level Ground in Los Angeles, CA
Through my work I tell intensely personal and intermingled stories about my subjects myself and my relationship to identity both in Iran and in the United States. This is a healing methodology expanding from the nature of constriction and expectation in order to mold it towards confrontational vulnerability where I can move beyond identity into larger themes within my practice. Video, performance, photography and installation also subsequently follow from this center point. The approaches I take, no matter the medium, have a relationship to this blending which incorporates fictionalized narratives and documentary technique to explore intimacy, humor, psychology, gender, and transitory states that bridge one identity with another.First, going back: My childhood in Tehran was punctuated by the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the eight years of the Iran-Iraq War which left its larger social impacts through political, cultural and general familial turmoil among all families in the 1970s and 80s, an environment of absences and the anxieties of ongoing bombings, dramatic social upheaval, and war.Painting, drawing and sculpting served as a private refuge of open expression as a healing and behavioral therapy. Our public culture suffered from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and my father did too, personally and within our socially impacted family unit dynamic roles we fell into: favored son, distant father, distracted mother, and daughter… who was I? I felt alienated from these roles and that I did not belong in either place. My practice has grown from these concerns and ideas of inclusion, identity, representation, roleplaying, gender representation, and art-as-healing. I am most interested in my work relating and honoring uncanny reactions towards unexpected experiences, the places where the unreal becomes real for participants and viewers. Some early projects, such as Inner Demons my first solo exhibition when l lived in Iran, I created several cast resins of my face alongside with installation and photographs part of my research about masking behaviors, which is to mentally block feelings of suffering as a survival mechanism.My current (and always evolving) multidisciplinary series Baby-Maybe returns to the body and playfully integrates performance, video, photography, installation, social practice and public participation as a serious self-inquiry as navigated around my own process of deciding whether or not to bear a child in dialogue with issues including immigration, border family separation, economic hardship and sanctions, climate change, resource management and the “pro-life” anti-choice movement. Baby-Maybe began as photojournalistic street portraits featuring myself, subjects, and willing passersby holding life-like real baby (reborn) dolls of various races, ethnicities and genders to simulate the physical and social outward experience of motherhood from alleyways and streets to grocery stores and cultural landmarks around the world from Tokyo to London to Cyprus to Los Angeles, and I have started collaborating with a Tehran- based journalist to capture interviews with child-free women in Iran between 35-50 while holding life like dolls I have sent to the country as well as developed a friendship with a woman who has been an active participant in the project and suffers from a distinct condition within endometriosis which causes the belly to take on a pregnant-like form, further deepening the conversation to be around reproductive health, misperceptions, and support systems of care. Research, relationship building, self-understanding and interpersonal understanding all come to the forefront within this project.