This research-based series of paintings is rooted in Bahar Behbahani's personal obsession with American scholar Donald Wilber, a well-regarded American scholar of Middle Eastern architecture who received MFA and PhD degrees in architecture from Princeton in 1929 and 1949 respectively. Behbahani's formal education on Persian architecture started at the University of Tehran in the 1990s and, ironically, was influenced by American historian Donald Wilber. Five years ago she revisited Wilber's books as her point of research. While researching the subject Behbahani encountered an article in NY Times from 2000 that revealed declassified documents detailing the CIA’s involvement in the 1953 military coup in Iran that overthrew a democratically elected government. She was shocked to discover that Wilber was named as the CIA agent and purported mastermind of the said coup. The large, mixed media paintings in this series contain finely articulated motifs, drawing from site plans of gardens, floral paintings of 19th century illuminated books, the ritual geometry of architectural patterns, and inscrutable characters. Behbahani transposed the CIA redaction bars from pages of the coup report onto the paintings, suppressing information about the paintings.
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