Above Image: 3D printed replicas on display
When ISIS insurgents overran the Iraqi city of Mosul last March and started smashing the Museum’s ancient artworks, U.S. artist Morehshin Allahyari decided to do something about it. Allahyari used archaeological and historical files, from the British Museum and others, to build 3D models of the destroyed artefacts and recreated them in plastic and resin. The series is called Material Speculation.
Watch the video of ISIS terrorists destroying historical artefacts and the artist creating replicas on a 3D printer:
ISIS fighters destroying statues in the Mosul Museum
Each replica includes a flash drive and a memory card inside it along with instructions on how to open the artefacts to retrieve the memory card without destroying the piece itself. Think of them as time capsules, designed to keep the memory and the history of the Assyrian relics alive.
An original Lamassu (bull-man) in the Baghdad Museum
Lamassu 3D replica
Lamassu replica with embedded memory card
Born and raised in Iran, Allahyari immigrated to the United States in 2007. She was 20 at the time. She is presently an artist in residence at Autodesk, a San Francisco gallery and workshop dedicated to creative expression through the digital arts.
3D printed replicas
“A lot changed,” she says of her 2007 journey. “So much of my work became about my identity in a place I felt I didn’t belong to (the United States) versus a place where I felt I didn’t fit in (Iran). I suddenly had the opportunity of making art without having to censor myself or being scared of the consequences of what I do. Not to mention that I was introduced to a lot of new digital tools and software I knew nothing about prior to moving to the US.”
Once in America, she found it easy to express herself through animation and video. She sees 3D printing as a natural evolution.
3D printed replica detail
“I always go back to issues about the Middle East and Iran,” she says. “I would say physical versus digital, exile, political and cultural censorship and the adoption of technology in developing countries, are some of the most important concepts in my work.”
3D printed replica showing embedded memory card
Allahyari wants to blur the boundaries between art, engineering, science fiction and digital media. Material Speculation fills the bill. 3D printing pushes her work into the realm of the provocative and the weird. As for the smashed artifacts; newspapers claim all but two of the artworks were plaster fakes. The originals are stored in Baghdad. No matter, Allahyari’s resin replicas are still an act of creation and defiance.