Student brings art into the realm of the unknown

Daily Sundial

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As an artist, Mona Kasra said she has enjoyed a lifetime of praise and empowerment from friends, family and colleagues regarding her works of art. For her latest project, however, she said she felt compelled to seek the input of complete strangers to determine her future as an artist.

Kasra said her love of the motion picture format, curiosity about divination, and her uncertainty about the future allowed her to make a film about her excursions to a psychic’s table. The 12-minute video installation, titled “enriched,” is on display this week only at the West Gallery in the Art and Design Center.

“Searching for the answers is important,” Kasra said. “Seek and search and never be satisfied if they tell you that you are good. At the same time, having the answer isn’t always good.”

Creating a student exhibition is a requirement of the Master of Fine Arts degree, and Kasra, who has also taught introductory courses on digital media at CSUN, said she is graduating this semester.

Kasra, 28, who received her bachelor’s of art degree in Iran, said her latest video installation also incorporates elements of fragmented time and space.

She said she recreated the intimacy of her excursions into the realm of the unknown within the gallery space by building a dividing wall that partitions the room into two spaces.

After stepping through a curtain of multicolored beads one enters a dimly lit inner room where Kasra’s video installation is projected onto a suspended screen.

“It was hypnotic,” said Kevin Lueng. “I kept coming back and getting different experiences.”

The interior room has a laid-back wooden chair placed behind a table adorned with fortune telling artifacts such as a deck of Tarot cards, crystal balls and polished stones and minerals. Religious figurines, candles and numerous books were also used.

Kasra said the inner space was filled with some of her and her friend’s personal items as well as some items she collected from the fortunetellers during the filming of her project. She said the desired result was to have the viewer experience the mood of her psychic encounters as she remembers them.

“I really wanted that intimacy and to create a mood,” she said. “I wanted the room to be intensified and full of energy.”

She said a suspended film screen was used to create a sense of depth while guests watched the three simultaneous 12-minute film sequences that were projected side-by-side onto the screen.

For some of the people that were in attendance for the opening reception on Saturday, Nov. 5, curiosity of the unknown was a subject that they found personally relevant.

“I was ready to understand the movie before I came to this place because everybody has an interest in their future,” said Vladimir Vasilyera.

Kasra said that as hard as it is to succeed in the art world, she is driven by a need to capture her experiences, and ultimately share them with an audience.

“Every artist wants to be well known while they’re alive,” she said. “Basically, what I always like to do is change how people watch video and film so people deal with it on a different level. I love the fact that people can sit in area and mesh with a video emotionally and physically.”

Alex Alferov, an artist who is currently working with Kasra on another video project, said that the present day digital culture has made an artist’s perceptive powers available to everyone and is no longer limited to motionless frames.

“What she’s saying is everyone is an artist if they’d only stop and reflect on their surroundings,” Alferov said.

Kasra said “enriched” is also a departure from past works in that she decided to hide nothing from the viewing audience this time.

“Sometimes I try to hide myself behind my work, but this time I was very honest. This is my only work where I put everything onscreen,” Kasra said.

Julio Morales can be reached at julio.morales.605@csun.edu.