When individuals move from one culture to another, whether involuntarily or through a conscious decision, the coherent conveying of one’s identity through the acquired language of a new context
can become a multifaceted challenge. Individual, as well as broad cultural histories, are extremely complex phenomena to capture, and consequently to express. The video works I have made consider
this complex notion of those cultural identities that do not claim validation through seeking originality. Rather, these cultures perceive identity as a transient invention. In this context all utility garments create their own conventions and special powers. The image of the shroud, commonly associated with the hijab or chador (the Muslim veil) unleashes in those external to such cultures a variety of reactions relating to issues of belief, the taboo and what constitutes the ‘boundary’. By experimenting with the corporeality of the chador,
my photography and videoworks negotiate it as a canvas upon which is inscribed entries based on an individualised memory and experience. The expressive nature of these entries is made up from both my native language (Farsi) and my newly acquired one (English). Incorporating ‘erasure’, a repetitive writing and wiping away of hand-written text in chalk, the chador consequently thus resembles a diary, a chronicle or a memoir, that becomes instrumental in directing my work. Witnessing both the process and the outcome of such performative actions can make an audience conscious of how complex communication across different cultural backgrounds can become; how such complexities may be identified through experiencing my visual language. My artwork focuses on the idea that the acquired world is defined through an experience of a single existence unfolding in a particular context; its manifestation based on the subsequent understanding of unalterable and irreplaceable memories of identity and power. My practice seeks to represent not only the socio-cultural invisibility of women in Iran but also their disempowerment, which fade them into shadow.
"Life may be
A Street crossed by a woman with a basket everyday
Life may be
Rope for a man who hangs himself from a branch.
Life may be a child coming home from school.
Life may be a cigarette lighting
Up in the narcotic pause between lovemaking and love made
Or the dazed gaze of a passerby
Tipping his hat to a passerby
With a senseless smile and a Good Morning.
Life may be that cloistered moment
When my gaze comes to ruin in your pupils
Wherein there lies a feeling
Which I shall blend
With the moon’s impression
And the night’s perception.
In a room the size of loneliness
my heart the size of darkness
looks at the simple pretext of its darkness..."
Another Birth, Forugh Farrokhzad, 1959