My name is Panteha Abareshi, and I am an artist currently based in Los Angeles, CA.
My work is be rooted in my existence as a body with sickle cell zero beta thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that causes debilitating pain, and bodily deterioration that both increase with age. Being a chronically ill body has shaped my experience into one that is extremely, and highly isolating. The nuances of disability and chronic illness are lost on the average able-bodied individual, and the marginalization, erasure and violence that I have endured from it alone is devastating. In combination with my personal notions of gender, racial and sexual identity, I am fully immersed in otherness. There is so little discussion surrounding this, and little to no exploration of these topics in contemporary work, and I aim to push against that lack of representation. I also examine my chronic illness in relation to my struggles with my mental health. In my practice I am warping concrete, physical forms into highly disembodied abstractions. Through my work I aim to discuss the complexities of living within a body that is highly monitored, constantly examined, and made to feel like a specimen. Taking images that are recognizable as human forms, and reducing them to gestural forms is a juxtaposition of my own bodies objectification, and dissection.
Being in hospital for as far back as I can remember, my condition has informed my conceptions of body and self. What are the implications of being told you are unhealthy, fragile, and defective from a young age? How does the early and reinforced knowledge of decreased lifespan, and a life of increasingly poor health, pain and bodily deterioration influence the relationship between one and their body? Identity becomes a daunting concept when there is a rift formed between one’s mind, and their body, when the body seemingly functions with a mind of its own, malfunctioning and causing harm. Able-bodied individuals do not realize the supreme privilege in trusting and knowing their own body. Identity as we know it is so highly linked to bodily form, and linked to aspects of bodily existence that are taken for granted. I aim to explore these questions this region of identity, pushing to articulate my own fears, insecurities and confusions around my illness-identity. My abstracted imaging of my own body is heavily influenced by being so regularly in the hospital, as I am constantly experiencing a very unique form of objectification in which my body is truly treated as a pound of flesh, the vitals that it produces, and the malfunctions it abounds in. In my performance work, I am pushing my own vulnerability and objectification to discuss the realities of mortality and fragility, and the complexities of empowerment in the face of literal powerlessness.
Currently, I am contemplating infertility, and its fundamentally damaging link to “womanhood,” and the normative definitions of gender and individual existence. Having been made aware of my infertility (due to my sickle cell zero beta thalassemia) from a very young age, I was stripped of these societal and normative definitions of gender, and forced to define my own identity much more abstractly.