Sara Rahbar was born in Tehran in 1976, shortly before the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, as a result of which her family was forced to leave the country. She grew up in the United States as part of the Iranian diaspora. She studied fashion and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York (1999-2000), and then visual arts at Central Saint-Martin’s College in London (2004-5).
Rahbar spends most of her time in New York and Tehran. On her travels she collects the fabrics and materials that she will incorporate into her works. These explore the pressures on identity and individuality in specific historical, geographical, political and religious situations, which both shape peoples and nations and, very often, drive them apart.
The American flag is at the centre of Rahbar’s textile and photographic works as object of appropriation, subversion, deconstruction and reconstruction. The famous Stars and Stripes thus becomes the support for a narrative that draws on the history, culture and heritage of her homeland, Iran, whose memory she traces in dense and colourful rhythmic compositions of great seductive power and immediacy.
Her work has been shown around the world, notably at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Vienna Kunsthalle, the National Centre of Contemporary Art in Moscow, the Saatchi Gallery in London, the Chelsea Art Museum, the Queens Museum and PS1 MoMA in New York.