Ala Ebtekar (b. 1978) is an artist, researcher, and educator who works between his native San Francisco Bay Area and Tehran, Iran. Born in Berkeley, California to Iranian activist/artist parents, from an early age, he developed an affinity towards various notions of in-between-ness, which has led him to explore the many spaces amongst the two cultures, both shared and separated, momentary and boundless. Such experiences have evolved into a dynamic practice that disquiets dominant notions of identity and complicates cultural difference. For the past twenty years, he has situated his art practice as a multitude of spaces between and even above.
Ebtekar’s recent investigations have created liminal experiences to longer notions of scientific duration beyond human timelines, in particular cosmic travel & the phenomenology of light. These projects bring forth sculptural and photographic possibilities of the universe gazing back through endless collapses of time and physical reworking of centuries old processes of image making. Ebtekar’s practice extends how our contemporary moments both live together as minuscule and paramount amidst an infinite score of skies and stars.
He currently teaches at Stanford University in the Department of Art & Art History and Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford. He is the founder and director of Art, Social Space and Public Discourse, a three-year Stanford global initiative on art that investigates the multiple contexts that shift and define changing ideas of public space. This ongoing critical framework of conversations, newly commissioned art projects, and exploration of various cultural productions and intellectual traditions looks at recent transformations of civic life.
Ebtekar holds an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been exhibited widely internationally and throughout the United States in such shows as “The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989” at the ZKM – Museum for Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany, the 2014 Xinjiang Biennale, the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, “The Beginning of Thinking is Geometric” at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, UAE, “One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now”, a touring exhibition originating at the Asia Society, NYC, and “Migrating Identities” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Ebtekar’s works are in public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany; Devi Art Foundation, India; Orange County Museum of Art, CA, USA; de Young Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, USA; Crocker Art Museum, CA, USA; Microsoft Art Collection, Redmond, WA; Berkeley Art Museum, CA, USA; among others. He has been awarded residencies at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany, Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, 18th Street Art Center in Los Angeles, Sazmanab in Tehran, Iran, and the San Francisco Center for the Book. He is represented by The Third Line Gallery in Dubai, and Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco.