Sam Samiee

Sam Samiee, A Map of the Sky (from the series The Unfinished Copernican Revolution) (detail), 2018, courtesy Sam Samiee

Sam Samiee belongs to that rare group of artists who like to talk—and listen. In dialogue, he moves seamlessly from the ninth-century invention of Farsi to how this coincided with the emergence of painting in the West as a technique to negotiate metaphysics, and then to contemporary psychoanalysis, culminating in possible answers to the question of why Germans still haven’t learned to mourn properly.

His installations break open the normative order and iconography of traditional european painting. Samiee’s work enters into or creates new spaces and temporalities, beginning on canvas and usually extending into the three-dimensional exhibition space with the support of objects in order to challenge hegemonic visual practices. For example, his paintings The Bedroom Posters (2015–16) depict the queering of (male-ascribed) physiques; or disproportionately painted celestial constellations installed next to the warm light of a bedside lamp. The placement and combination of his works in an exhibition space often evoke a sense of disorientation. This can be read as a call to temporarily accept disturbing environments, which ultimately invite us to actively participate in the birthing of new, more interrelated worlds.

Leading up to the 10th Berlin Biennale, Samiee continued his explorations of the Persian term adab—describing the dual concept of ethics and aesthetics—during a two-month studio residency at the ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics, where his work the Unfinished Copernican Revolution (2018) is on view.

—Magnus Elias Rosengarten

  • ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics


The Unfinished Copernican Revolution, 2018
Mixed media
Courtesy Sam Samiee

Commissioned and coproduced by Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art
With the support of Ammodo Foundation; Mondriaan Fund; Botschaft des Königreichs der Niederlande, Berlin