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Bolt Residency

Everyday Suspects

Sabba S. Elahi
Everyday Suspects, hand embroidery on cotton, 2014.
Friday, June 27, 2014 to Thursday, July 17, 2014
Opening reception: Friday June 27, 2014, 6-9 pm.

In Everyday Suspects, BOLT Resident Sabba S. Elahi examines agents of warfare, calling into question the scrutinization of our everyday actions.

The exhibition presents a working list of Pakistani drone casualties, collected from an online archive published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalists. Her hand-embroidered and drawn imagery moves the viewer through aerial and peripheral views of domestic and civil spaces, the benign and the personal. Elahi’s work interrogates what is happening in many Muslim American communities, monitored where they live, work, and pray. Elahi’s human suspects haunt us with the vulnerability of the mundane and subtle gestures of everyday patterns.

Closing Reception: July 17, 5:30-8:00pm. Includes performance by Ahalya Satkunaratnam. 


In addition, Elahi's Everyday Suspects acts as a companion to two public staged readings of Robert Myers’ play UNMANNED. Both Elahi's artwork and Myers' play address the ethical and moral challenges posed by drone technology and its resultant "collateral damage." Elahi will present a twenty minute talk with slide show presentation before each of the staged readings. 

Artist Talk in association with Silk Road Rising's staged reading of UNMANNED:

Saturday June 28 and Sunday June 29, at 4:00pm

UNMANNED performances held at Pierce Hall at The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W Washington St, Chicago.

By turns comic and appalling, UNMANNED dramatizes the lives of two drone operators in a remote desert in the the American Southwest—one, a retired male fighter pilot who is terrified to fly; the other, a young female gamer who has never flown. This sets the stage for an exploration of the bizarre and disturbing profession of the military drone “pilot” and the ways in which technology has radically altered contemporary life and warfare. For more information and tickets, please visit Silk Road Rising.


Sabba Syal Elahi is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural worker focusing her art practice in fibers, painting, and drawing. Her art explores collective memory, loss, and political history's impact on the shifting shape of personal and communal identities. Most recently Sabba exhibited her work online with the International Museum of Women, in Marwen’s Untitled Gallery, and participated in a Teaching Artist Residency at Ragdale. Sabba has over twelve years experience in education non profits, and joined the Marwen community in 2009. At Marwen, Sabba is a Teaching Artist in the Portfolio Program where she provides college and career counseling . Sabba received her M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.