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Hayv Kahraman (artist)



Hayv Kahraman is a contemporary painter based in Los Angeles, CA. Kahraman was born in 1981 in Baghdad, Iraq and moved with her family to Sweden after the Persian Gulf War. Kahraman started painting at a young age. After finishing university in Sweden, she studied art and design in Italy and moved to the United States in 2006. Kahraman’s artwork reflects her gender, identity, and cultural experiences.

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Hayv Kahraman (born 1981) is an Iraqi-American-Swedish artist of Kurdish descent, who was born in Baghdad and fled to Sweden with family during the Gulf War, studied in Florence, and is currently based in Los Angeles. She is primarily a painter. Hayv Kahraman’s work explores the transformation of agency undergone by the colonial subject. Her figures are placed in seemingly impossible poses akin to circus performers or contortionists, attracting the voyeuristic gaze through an eroticisation and fetishisation of the ‘other’. Yet their faces stare plainly back at us; the gaze is tolerated. This interplay of gazes allows for the subjects to be both looked at and to look back at, subverting the coloniser’s power, and calling attention to the dehumanisation of the colonised. Kahraman’s freak show acts, like immigrants and refugees, occupy a space of both invisibility and visibility - they are relegated to certain subsections of society and ignored, while remaining naturally visible. Though her figures are vulnerable, they present themselves deliberately, showing that otherness is presented as a construct and not a given.She was born in Iraq in 1981 to a Kurdish mother from Slemani. Her family fled to Sweden in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991). Hayv lives and works in California, United States.