Farrah Karapetian (1978 US) is an artist based in California. She believes in the agency of individuals in the face of forces beyond their control, and her methods incorporate sculptural and performative means of achieving imagery. She refigures the medium of photography around bodily experience. Her work is in public collections that include the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. Recent institutional exhibitions include Time Share for Radical Broadcast (Performa) (2020); The Fabric of Felicity (Garage Museum of Contemporary Art) (2018); Synthesize, MOCA Jacksonville (2017); Light Play: Experiments in Photography, 1970 to the Present, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2017); A Matter of Memory, George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY (2016); The Surface of Things, Houston Center for Photography (2016); and About Time: Photography in a Moment of Change, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA (2016.)
Karapetian was named a COLA 2021 Individual Artist Fellow. She was on residence spring/summer 2018 in St. Petersburg, Russia, as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar, investigating the contemporary resonance of Russian Revolutionary theatrical director Vselovod Meyerhold. She received a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation for 2017. She visited Russia in 2016 with a grant from CEC ArtsLink. In 2014, she was recognized with a California Community Foundation Mid-Career Artist Fellowship. She received a grant for Artistic Innovation from the Center for Cultural Innovation in 2012 and was a resident at the MacDowell Colony in 2010.
Karapetian’s writing about photography and visual experience has been recognized not only by multiple publications but by the Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program, with a grant in 2013 for her writing about the house in and as contemporary art. Her voice has been a part of panel discussions and critiques at institutions including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Havard University's Davis Center, Princeton University's photography and architecture programs, UCLA, LAXART, and the Orange County Museum of Art. She was on the 2021 research team of the Portugese based Archivo, dismantling the Mythologies of the 21st Century. She currently leads the photography area in the Department of Art, Architecture + Art History at the University of San Diego.
Karapetian’s public art projects have been recognized by arts and civic organizations including the California Legislature Assembly and the City of Los Angeles. She has received support from the Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War in Los Angeles for her work with their collection and civic engagement program, and she received an allotment of an Artplace grant as funding for her participation in the Flint Public Art Project in Michigan in 2012. Significant group exhibitions in which existing work has figured include The Fabric of Felicity, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2018); The Wall in Our Heads: American Artists and the Berlin Wall, at the Goethe Institut, Washington DC, curated by Paul Farber (2014); The Fifth Wall, at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA, curated by Irene Tsatsos (2014); Prep School: Prepper & Survivalist Ideologies and Utopian/Dystopian Visions, at the Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA, curated by Max Presneill (2014); Trouble With the Index, at the California Museum of Photography UCR ARTSblock, Riverside, CA, curated by Joanna Szupinska-Myers (2014); the Border Art Biennial 2010 at the El Paso Museum of Art and Centro Cultural Paso del Norte, El Paso, TX, and Juárez, MX, an
exhibition juried by Rita Gonzalez and Itala Schmelz; and LA Confidentiel, at the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Parc Saint-Léger, France, curated by Sandra Patron and Allyson Spellacy (2008). Karapetian realized a major new installation at the 2013 California-Pacific Triennial, at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, CA, an exhibition curated by Dan Cameron.
Karapetian’s work is included in textbooks such as Photography: a Cultural History, (Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2021); Constructed: The Contemporary History of the Constructed Image in Photography Since 1990 (Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2019); Global Photography: A Critical History/ Textbook (Bloomsbury Academic Publishers, 2019); and in Charlotte Cotton’s survey of contemporary trends in fine art photography, Photography is Magic, published by Aperture in 2015. Her work has been reviewed in the LA Times, Artforum, Artcritical.com, and Photograph Magazine among many other publications. Profiles of the artist’s work have been published in, among other publications, Art in America, Artforum.com, The Georgia Review, TATE Etc., FABRIK, Art LTD, and The San Francisco Chronicle, and her work has been discussed in the New York Times and Interview Magazine.
Her work at the University of San Diego supports the above ideals, including through programs like Frontiers in Frontiers and radical new pedagogy, in advance of several new books.