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It’s a solar system! It’s two tomatoes and a golf ball! It’s Shirana Shahbazi’s [Composition-40-2011]!

[Composition-40-2011] is very cool for multiple reasons. First, it demands a lot of focus from viewers because you really can’t tell what it is. All we know is that it looks like a high quality commercial photograph and that it’s very big – 6.8 feet by 5.5 feet to be exact. There is an extensive procedure for achieving such a good quality in such a large photograph, including painted pedestals, the turning of volumes between exposures, and “dynamic interplay between surface and depth” but we won’t get into that. Photography jargon, am I right? It is theorized that the move to more abstract art was purposeful on Shahbazi’s part because she was tired of everyone fawning over seemingly mundane topics like a woman wearing a veil and smoking. She wanted her art to be judged away from the context of her gender and ethnicity, which is a totally legitimate request but somehow seemingly impossible.

Another reason why [Composition-40-2011] is very cool is because it was used in the Museum of Modern Art's artwork rehanging to protest President Trump’s immigration ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries in January 2017. Art pieces by Shahbazi as well as Marcos Grigorian, Tala Madani, Zaha Hadid and many others were hung in the place of super famous masterpieces by artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. [Composition-40-2011] specifically, was hung in a room normally dedicated to Marcel Duchamp. Shahbazi claims to be a political person but refrains from including any political messages in her art. She wasn’t even aware of the rehanging until a friend of hers sent her the New York Times article on the event. But even though she steers clear of political art, she didn’t complain when MoMA decided to use her work in this political protest. She stated that she was in agreement with what the curators did. Also the photo belongs to the museum so she couldn’t do anything about it if she disagreed anyway.





  1. Gubser, Stefan. "Moma Protests Against Trump – With Swiss Artist." SWI N.p., 2017. Web. 6 Nov. 2018.
  2. Respini, Eva. "Moma | New Photography 2012 | Shirana Shahbazi." N.p., 2018. Web. 6 Nov. 2018.
  3. Robecchi, Michele. "SI Exhibitions - Shahbazi." N.p., 2003. Web. 5 Nov. 2018.
  4. "Shirana Shahbazi. [Composition-40-2011]. 2011 | Moma." Web. 6 Nov. 2018.