Art Historian, Associate Curator of Photography, MoMA
In the Studio: Photography, Modernity and the Middle East
Color-print of the technique of photography from 1854, ahand painted color print from the book The History of Photography and Pioneer Photographers in Iran byYahya Zoka (Tehran, 1997)
Mitra Abbaspour is an Associate Curator in the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art and a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY. At MoMA, she leads a research initiative centered on the Thomas Walther Collection, which draws together photograph conservators and historians to explore the formation of photographic modernism in the early decades of the twentieth century. Additionally, she is preparing to defend her dissertation, a study of photograph archives dedicated to Armenian, Kurdish, and pan-Arab practices. This study considers the ways in which photograph archives call on the history of the medium to represent the relationship between the Middle East and modernity.She has authored numerous articles on contemporary photographers from Tracey Moffatt to Shirana Shahbazi. Recently, her focused study of a photograph of General Andranik “A Hero and a Homeland for Armenians in America: Photography’s Role in the Diaspora,” appeared in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Mitra served as part of a curatorial team for the exhibition Re-Orientations: Islamic Art and the West in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, which was culled from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also taught in the art history departments of Hunter College, Brooklyn College, and the University of California, Riverside.
Before arriving in New York, Mitra was Assistant Curator and Museum Writer at UCR/California Museum of Photography. While there she oversaw the program of rotating exhibitions, curating a wide range of thematic and monographic shows fromOne Ground: Four Palestinian and Four Israeli Filmmakers to Lori Nix: Accidentally Kansas. Mitra has been a guest curator at the Sweeney Art Gallery, Riverside and Galleria Metta, Madrid. Mitra received her master’s degree from the University of California, Riverside and completed her bachelor’s degree at Scripps College in Claremont, California.