top of page
iran banner.jpg

FILMS FROM IRAN
FOR IRAN
فیلمهایی از ایران، برای ایران

Until 8 January / در دسترس تا ۴ ژانویه

English / Français / فارسی

A group programme with Bani Khoshnoudi, Mitra Tabrizian, Sanaz Azari, Tara Najd Ahmadi, Nahid Rezaei, Niki Kohandel, Sepideh Farsi, Gelare Khoshgozaran, Katayoun Jalilipour, Maryam Tafakory, Maaman Rezaee, Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour, Ryan Ferko, Nia Fekri, Parisa Aminolahi; convened by Another Screen/Daniella Shreir

یک‌ نمایش گروهی با بنفشه خشنودی، میترا تبریزیان، ساناز آذری، تارا نجداحمدی، ناهید رضایی، نیکی کهندل، سپیده فارسی، گلاره خوشگذران، کتایون‌ جلیلی پور، مریم تفکری، مأمن رضایی، پرستو انوشه پور، فراز انوشه پور، رایان فرکو، نیا فکری، پریسا امین‌اللهی؛ گرد آوری شده توسط Another Screen/دانیلا شریر

with translation into French by

Cloé Tralci, Lucas Roussel, Camille Calandre, Anne Destival.

With thanks to L. C. Lim for his incredible research.

Donate

Donations are to be made via our Donorbox, which allows us to redirect funds most effectively. So far, we have channelled funds to organisations including Hengaw (providing assistance to the wounded in beseiged Kurdistan), Education Far Away (facilitating access to education for women and girls, and currently redirecting their funds to Baluchistan) and Lantern (an providing access to the internet via VPNs to citizens across Iran).

 

Si vous voulez faire un don, merci d'utiliser notre Donorbox pour que nous puissions le transférer le plus rapidement possible. Une partie des fonds récoltés servira à couvrir les frais d'hébergement d'Another Screen, et une autre sera reversée à des ONG basés dans l’ouest qui ont réorienté leurs efforts vers les villes kurdes et baloutches assiégées par l'Iran, à des des associations LGBTQ+ soutenant des militant‧es condamné‧es à mort, et à l'achat massif de VPNs dans tout le pays. Nous publierons régulièrement ici le montant des sommes récoltées et le détail de leur utilisation. L'authenticité de chaque association a été vérifiée, mais certaines conserveront l'anonymat pour des raisons de sécurité.

کمک‌های مالی شما به وسیله Donorbox جمع آوری که امکان توزیع آن را آسانتر می‌کند. پول جمع آوری شده بین هزینه پخش فیلم‌ها در سایت اینترنتی ما، بنیاد‌های حقوق بشری در کشور‌های غربی که به شهرهای محاصره شده خصوصا در کردستان و بلوچستان کمک رسانی میکنند، بنیاد‌های ال جی بی‌تی کیو، سازمان‌های که از فعالان سیاسی در خطر اعدام حمایت میکنند، و همچنین خرید فیلتر شکن برای ایرانیان تقسیم خواهد شد. جزئیات کمک‌ها و توزیع مرتبا منتشر و با شما به اشتراک گذاشته خواهد شد. تمامی این سازمان‌ها بررسی شده و معتبر هستند، اما به دلایل امنیتی نامی از آنها برده نخواهد شد.

 
 
 
Introduction

Introduction

On September 16, Jina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was murdered in Tehran following her arrest by Iran’s Morality Police for wearing “improper” hijab. This brutal state-sanctioned murder spurred a new women-led revolution across the country: with women, schoolgirls, and their allies mobilising against veiling (mandatory since the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979), as well as countless other manifestations of the Islamic Republic’s all-pervasive oppression. Since then, hundreds of protesters have been murdered, with the particular targeting of ethnic and religious minorities. The images of mass resistance that have come out of Iran – relayed largely on social media (with the mainstream press remaining, for the most part, negligently silent or ill-tuned to the complexities) – portray a revolution on a micro and macro level. Some of the most emblematic include women on the streets cutting their hair and burning their hijabs en masse; a woman eating alone, unveiled, in a café; schoolgirls finding novel ways to protest in their classrooms; large demonstrations populated by all generations and genders; and mass strikes by steel and oil workers…

 

FILMS FROM IRAN FOR IRAN is a programme of films by women and non-binary filmmakers, made from 1979 to the present day, with a focus on experimental and non-fiction work. Exploring ideas around forced and chosen departures, return, mother and other tongues, familial and non-familial feminist and proto-feminist lineages, we seek to extend solidarity to the struggle in Iran, and contribute some much-needed nuance and context to the long history of feminist resistance to state violence that has existed there, at the intersections between gender, class, sexuality and ethnicity. Bringing together a multitude of diaspora and non-diaspora voices speaking across generations, the programme was created in the spirit of community, with artists suggesting other artists with whom they are friends or whom they admire. It aims to provide a non-institutional corrective to the opportunism of big western art institutions, whose interest lies almost exclusively in the fetishisation of certain symbols of Iranian society, which have themselves been moulded by the Islamic Republic – institutions that foreground only those artists who reflect and reinforce this western gaze.

 

This project can only be idealistic, however: shaped as it is by sad absences and other forms of positionality. At the time of writing, nearly one-hundred filmmakers have been arrested since the beginning of this new revolution, and are awaiting trial and sentencing; fifty are now in prison. Several artists we approached did not feel safe having their films online – those who live in Iran, or between Iran and the west, or who still have family in the country; while most artists in the programme, for whom one or more of these apply, are taking significant risks in showing their work. Another Screen would like to thank all of them for their courage and generosity, and for several weeks of invigorating conversations that have informed and immeasurably enhanced this project.

 

As one artist, who did not feel able to share her work publicly, wrote in her email: “Hopefully in some bright future, there will be an opportunity for us all to show our films together: in Iran”.

Le 16 septembre dernier, Jina (Mahsa) Amini, une jeune femme kurde de 22 ans, est morte à Téhéran sous les coups de la Police des mœurs après son arrestation pour avoir mal ajusté son hijab. Ce meurtre brutal perpétré dans l’indifférence de l’État a provoqué une vague de soulèvements révolutionnaires dans tout le pays, mené par les femmes, les filles et leurs alliés qui se mobilisent contre le port du voile obligatoire (imposé depuis 1979), et contre les innombrables oppressions que la République islamique impose à toute la société. Des centaines de manifestant·es ont été tué·es depuis le début de la contestation, en particulier des membres de minorités ethniques ou religieuses. Les images de résistance populaire qui nous parviennent d’Iran – diffusées principalement sur les réseaux sociaux (les grands médias restants, pour la plupart, au mieux mal informés sur les enjeux, au pire silencieux ou évasifs) – montrent que cette révolution se joue à toutes les échelles. Parmi les exemples les plus emblématiques : ces femmes qui se coupent les cheveux dans la rue et brûlent leur hijab en masse ; une autre qui mange seule dans un café, sans son voile ; ces lycéennes qui inventent de nouvelles formes de protestation en classe ; les manifestations immenses qui réunissent toutes les strates de la population ; la grève massive des ouvrièr·es du métal et du pétrole…

 

FILMS FROM IRAN FOR IRAN rassemble des films réalisés par des femmes et des cinéastes non-binaires, de 1979 – année zéro de la dictature – à aujourd’hui, en donnant une place particulière aux films expérimentaux et documentaires. Traversé par des questionnements sur les départs forcés ou souhaités, l’idée du retour, les langues maternelles ou adoptées, les héritages proto-féministes ou féministes transmis par la famille ou en dehors, ce programme appelle à soutenir la lutte du peuple iranien. Nous espérons qu’il contribuera à donner une image plus complexe du mouvement et à le situer dans la longue histoire des résistances féministes à la violence d’État dans cette région, entre oppressions de genre, de classe, sexuelles et ethniques. En rassemblant une multitude de voix issues de générations différentes qui s’expriment depuis l’Iran ou depuis la diaspora, il a été conçu dans un esprit de communauté, en laissant le champ libre aux artistes pour inviter d’autres artistes avec qui elle·x·s sont amie·x·s ou qu’elle·x·s admirent. Il s’agit d’un correctif adressé depuis l’extérieur des institutions aux grands acteurs du monde de l’art occidental, qui n’ont comme intérêt quasi-exclusif que la fétichisation de certains symboles de la société iranienne – ceux-là mêmes qui ont été forgés par la République islamique. Ces institutions ne promeuvent jamais que les artistes qui acceptent et renforcent ce regard occidental.

 

Ce projet, néanmoins, est forcément le résultat des circonstances : des omissions ont été faites à contrecœur, en prenant en compte le positionnement de chaque artiste. À l’heure où nous écrivons, près d’une centaine de cinéastes ont été arrêtée·x·s depuis le début de cette nouvelle révolution, et sont aujourd’hui en attente de jugement. Plusieurs artistes que nous avons contactée·x·s ont renoncé à publier leur film sur internet – souvent celle·x·s qui vivent en Iran, ou entre l’Iran et l’Occident, ou qui souhaitent protéger leur famille restée au pays. La plupart des artistes participant à ce programme sont confronté·x·s à l’une ou l’autre de ces situations, et prennent des risques considérables en montrant leur travail. Another Screen voudrait les remercier pour leur courage et pour leur générosité, ainsi que pour les vives conversations qui, sur plusieurs semaines, ont informé ce projet et l’ont inestimablement enrichi.

 

Comme l’une des cinéastes qui n’a pas pu montrer son travail nous l’a écrit dans un e-mail : 

« Espérons que dans un futur plus propice nous pourrons projeter nos films ensemble : en Iran. »

ژینا (مهسا) امینی، دختر ۲۲ ساله کرد، روز ۲۲ شهریور توسط گشت ارشاد در تهران به دلیل پوشش نامناسب دستگیر شده و جان باخت. این قتل بیرحمانه در دست نیروهای دولتی، جرقه‌ای شد برای یک انقلاب با رهبری زنان و دختران دانش آموز، و با همراهی حامیان آنها که به نشان اعتراض به حجاب اجباری (قانونی که سال ۱۳۵۷ و با پیروزی انقلاب اسلامی تصویب شد) برخاستند. به تدریج معترضان بیشتر شده و ستم همه جانبه جمهوری اسلامی هدف اعتراضات قرار گرفت. از شروع دادخواهی تا به امروز صد‌ها نفر از معترضان، که تعداد قابل توجهی از آنها از اقلیت‌های قومی و مذهبی هستند، کشته شده ا‌ند. تصاویری که از ایستادگی جمعی مردم ایران در شبکه‌های اجتماعی (با توجه به فقدان رسانه آزاد یا آگاه از پیچیدگی‌های شرایط امروز) به اشتراک گذاشته میشوند، روایتگر یک انقلاب در سطح کلان و خرد هستند. نمادین‌ترین آنها تصاویر زنانی هستند که در خیابان موهای خود را قیچی کرده یا روسری‌های خود را به آتش کشیده ا‌ند، زنی‌ که تنها و بدون حجاب در کافه‌ای غذا میخورد، دانش آموزانی که به روش‌های مبتکرانه در کلاس‌های درس اعتراض میکنند، حضور شهروندان از هر نسل و جنسیتی در تظاهرات، و اعتصابات کارگران صنعت نفت و فولاد، …

"فیلم هایی از ایران برای ایران" شامل آثاری از کارگردانان زن و نان باینری میشود که بین سال ۱۳۵۷ تا به امروز ساخته شده ا‌ند. تمرکز این برنامه روی فیلم های مستند و تجربی است. ما با پرداختن به موضوعاتی از جمله مهاجرت اختیاری یا اجباری، بازگشت، زبان مادری یا دیگر، روابط فمینیستی خانوادگی یا غیر خانوادگی، از مبارزه مردم ایران حمایت کرده، و در تلاش برای ارائه طیف و پیشینه گسترده تری از مبارزات زنان هستیم، که سالهاست در برابر ستم در هم تنیده جنسی، طبقاتی، جنسیتی و قومیتی ایستاده ا‌ند. گرد آوری صداهایی از داخل و خارج از ایران، و از نسل‌های متفاوت در این برنامه، همدلانه انجام شده و هنرمندان آثار دوستان و همکاران مورد علاقه شان را پیشنهاد کردند. هدف این برنامه معرفی جایگزینی فراسازمانی برای رویکرد‌های فرصت طلبانه بنیاد‌های هنری غربیست. چنین سازمان هایی پایبند به بت انگاری یک تصویر محدود از جامعه ایرانی هستند، که ریشه در سیاست‌های جمهوری اسلامی دارد، و منحصرا با هنرمندان به واسطه تایید و تقویت نگاه غربی‌شان همکاری میکنند.

این پروژه، با وجود اندوه ناشی از غیاب برخی از دوستان، همچنان آرمان گرایانه است. از آغاز این انقلاب جدید تا نوشتن این متن، حدود صد فیلمساز دستگیر شده و در انتظار حکم دادگاه هستند، و پنجاه نفر از آنها در زندان به سر میبرند. با تعدادی هنرمند تماس گرفتیم که برای به نمایش گذاشتن فیلم‌هایشان احساس امنیت کافی نمیکنند. بعضی به دلیل این که در ایران زندگی میکنند مایل به همکاری نیستند، بعضی بین ایران و کشوری که ساکن آن هستند در رفت و آمدند، و گروه دیگر نگران اعضای خانواده‌شان در ایران هستند. فیلمسازان این برنامه هم اکثرا در شرایط مشابه هستند و ریسک زیادی را متحمل میشوند. "پرده دیگر" از آنها بابت شجاعت، سخاوت، و مکالمات انرژی بخشی که باعث دقیق تر و بهتر شدن این پروژه شده، تشکر می‌کند.

همانطور که هنرمندی که در شرایط مساعد برای نمایش عمومی فیلمش نبود در ایمیل نوشت، "به امید روزهای روشن آینده، و فرصتی که برای نمایش فیلم‌هایمان با هم، و در ایران فراهم خواهد شد."

 
 
Contents
Year Zero

SYLVINA BOISSONNAS,
MICHELLE MULLER,
SYLVIANE REY 
&
CLAUDINE MULARD

 
 
 
 
 

Iranian Women's Liberation Movement: Year Zero

Le mouvement de libération des femmes iraniennes: année zero

جنبش آزادی زنان ایران - سال صفر
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
image_laptop.bmp

English / Français

 
 
 
 

فارسی

 
 
 
 

On March 7, 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini announced mandatory veiling for women. From March 8 to March 13, women and militants demonstrated in the streets against the veil. A crew of four French feminists (Sylvina Boissonnas, Michelle Muller, Sylviane Rey, and Claudine Mulard) filmed these historical events shortly before being expelled from the country. Alongside Kate Millet, they were in Iran at the invitation of a local women's committee on the occasion of International Women's Day. Their time in Iran was marked by their fixed filters of white western feminism and their inability to "gain entry to" or “access” the complexities of this nation’s movement. Millet's time in Iran and the audio recordings she made there have been written about extensively, most recently by Negar Mottahedeh in her book, Whisper Tapes (2019).

 

As today, high school girls were at the helm of the Iranian women's demonstrations that March. They were the first to debate the question of mandatory veiling with their school teachers, to cancel classes, and to take their outrage to the streets and squares of Tehran. Mojgan K., one of the school girls interviewed in this film, says in her interview with the French feminist Claudine Mulard that she is participating in the demonstrations because she wants to "live freely, to speak freely, and to write freely" and that her mother feels the same way.

 

After the announcement of Kate Millett's expulsion at Abbas Amir-Entezam's press conference on March the 16th, Sylvina Boissonnas and Michelle Muller left Iran with four rolls of 16mm film, each about twelve minutes in length. Meanwhile, Claudine Mulard and Sylviane Re, “Psych et Po” feminists [Psych et Po or, Psychanalyse et Politique, was one of two branches that came out of divisions within the MLF, the Mouvement de libération des femmes], left Iran on March the 18th. The edited film, which was narrated by Mulard, was first screened at La Mutualité shortly after the feminists' return to Paris. A four-minute clip was broadcast on the French TV channel Antenne 2 a few weeks later. The MLF never officially distributed the film but it has, however, circulated online since the 2009 post0election uprising in Iran. 

Le 7 mars 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini impose le voile aux femmes iraniennes. Du 8 au 13 mars, des milliers d’entre elles et des militants descendent dans la rue pour manifester contre cette décision. Alors que les féministes iraniennes ont invité Kate Millet à l’occasion de la Journée internationale des femmes, une équipe de féministes françaises (Sylvina Boissonnas, Michelle Muller, Sylviane Rey et Claudine Mulard), est également à Téhéran pour filmer cet événement historique, juste avant d’être expulsées par le gouvernement. Lors de leur séjour, elles se heurtent aux limites de la pensée féministe blanche et échouent à « intégrer », ou à « comprendre » la complexité du mouvement. Le passage de Millet en Iran et les entretiens qu’elle y a enregistrés ont fait l’objet de nombreuses études, notamment celles de Negar Mottahedeh dans son livre Whisper Tapes (2019). 

Claudine Mulard and Sylviane Re, du groupe féministe « Psy et po » (Psychanlyse et politique) issu des divisions internes du MLF, quittent l’Iran le 18 mars 1979. Après qu’Abbas Amir-Entezam annonce l’expulsion de Kate Millet dans une conférence de presse, Sylvina Boissonnas et Michelle Muller les suivent, en emportant quatre bobines de film 16 mm d’une douzaine de minutes chacune. Une fois monté et accompagné d’un commentaire dit par Claudine Mulard, le film est projeté pour la première fois à la Mutualité. Un clip de quatre minutes est diffusé sur Antenne 2 quelques semaines plus tard. À ce jour l’unique production cinématographique du MLF sans pour autant avoir officiellement été distribué, le film est réapparu sur internet à la suite du soulèvement postélectoral de 2009. 

 

Aujourd’hui comme en mars 1979, les lycéennes sont à l’avant-garde des manifestations féministes. Ce sont elles qui ont remis en cause le port obligatoire du voile auprès de leurs professeurs, qui ont quitté les cours et porté leur mécontentement dans les rues et les places de Téhéran. Mojgan K, l’une des lycéennes interviewées dans le documentaire par Claudine Mulard, y dit vouloir, avec le soutien de sa mère, « vivre librement, parler librement et écrire librement ».

در هفت مارچ سال 1979، روح الله خمینی اعلام کرد که حجاب برای زنان اجباری است. در پاسخ به این دستور، بین روزهای هشت تا سیزده مارچ، زنان و همراهان آزادی خواهشان علیه حجاب اجباری به خیابان آمدند. در این دوره گروهی از زنان فمنیست فرانسوی (سیلوینا بیوسوناس، میشل مولر، سیلوین ری، کلاودین ملارد) نیز از این لحظات تاریخی فیلم گرفتند و بعد از آن بلافاصله از کشور اخراج شدند. همچون کیت میلت، آنها به دعوت یک کمیته محلی زنان به ایران آمده بودند. زمانی که آنها در ایران سپری کردند به ناچار تحت تاثیر فیلترهای فمنیسم سفید غربی و ناتوانتیشان در"ورود" و "دسترسی" به پیچیدگی های این جنبش بزرگ بود. درباره دوره ای که میلت در ایران گذراند و صداهایی که ضبط کرد بسیار نوشته شده است، که نمونه متاخر آن کتاب "پچ پچ نوارها" از نگار متحده است.

همچون امروز، دختران دبیرستانی آن سال هم سکان داران اعتراض بودند. آنها اولین کسانی بودند که موضوع حجاب اجباری را با معلمانشان به بحث گذاشتند، کلاسها را تعطیل کردند و خشمشان را به خیاباهای تهران بردند. مژگان ک. یکی از دختران مدرسه ای که در فیلم با او مصاحبه شده است، در گفتگو با فمنیست فرانسوی، ملارد، میگوید به این دلیل در تظاهرات شرکت میکند که میخواهد "آزادانه زندگی کرده، صحبت کند و بنویسد؛" و مادرش هم همین را میخواهد.

بعد از اعلام اخراج کیت میلت در کنفرانس خبری عباس امیرانتظام در 16مارچ، سیلوینا بیوسوناس و میشل مولر همراه با 4 حلقه فیلم 16 میلیمتری 12 دقیقه ای ایران را ترک کردند. در همین حین کلاودین ملارد و سیلوین ری، فمنیستهای سایک ا پو، ( سایک ا پو به عنوان اختصار روانکاوی و سیاست، دو شاخه برآمده از گروه ام ال اف، یا جنبش رهایی بخش زنان) ایران را در 18 مارچ ترک کردند. نسخه ادیت شده فیلم با صدای ملارد به عنوان راوی برای اولین بار بعد از بازگشت فمنیستها به پاریس در میوتوالیته به نمایش درآمد. دو هفته بعد یک کلیپ 4 دقیقه ای از آن نیز در کانال دو تلویزیون فرانسه به نشان داده شد. ام ال اف این فیلم را به شکل حرفه ای پخش و نمایش نداد ولی با آغاز اعتراضات ایرانیان در سال 1388 نسخه ای از فیلم به صورت آنلاین در حال چرخش است.

 

BANI KHOSHNOUDI
بنفشه خشنودی

 
 
 
 

The Silent Majority Speaks (2010, 94’)
Cem (2012, 4’)
Transit (2005, 35’) 

 
 
 
Bani_KHOSHNOUDI.tiff

Bani Khoshnoudi was born in Tehran and immigrated to the United States in 1979 during the revolution. She studied architecture, photography and cinema at the University of Texas at Austin, and then continued her studies at the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Her works, inhabited by displacement and uprooting, explore themes of exile, modernity and its relation to the non-Western world, memory and the invisible. While her documentary and fiction films (Transit (2005), A People in the Shadows (2008), The Silent Majority Speaks (2010-14), Luciérnagas (2018), …) dig into the layers, stories and experiences related to global migrations, nomadisms and historical struggles for freedom, her photographs and installations also work with the textures and traces of these stories; architecture and ruins, human imprints on the earth. Her most well known film, the documentary essay The Silent Majority Speaks, was banned in Lebanon and considered “offensive to the Iranian regime”. This political fresco about 100 years of political revolt in Iran was included in Georges Didi-Huberman’s exhibition book, Uprisings for the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris, and was named by French programmer and cinema historian, Nicole Brenez, as one of ten essential films of the century. In 2014 she collaborated with filmmaker Harun Farocki and Antje Ehmann on their project “Labor in a Single Shot” in Mexico City. Bani’s work has been shown at the Centre Pompidou, Fondation Serralves in Porto, Fondation Cartier, MUAC Museum of Contemporary Art and Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Zaghreb, among others. In 2022, Bani was awarded the prestigious Herb Alpert Award for the Arts in Film/Video.  

Artist's Statement

English / Français / فارسی

 
 
 

The last eight weeks have blended into each other, and each day seems to begin and end with many thoughts: what has happened, how many more have been killed, who has been arrested, what are they doing to them… Unbearable thoughts, tied to images we all have in our minds, based on each of our pasts, our family histories, our compatriots’ experiences and traumas, which are even more unbearable, for me at least, because there is so little that I can do from where, geographically, I am standing today. But along with these extremely stressful thoughts, the other thing and probably the first thing that comes to my mind when I wake up each day is: “Is it still happening? Are people still on the streets?” And hoping with all my being that this will not stop until victory is achieved. It cannot stop. Having been on the streets protesting in 2009, while filming everything… Having made a clear decision back then that I could not keep silent, putting myself at risk and accepting the hard fact that I would no longer be able to travel back to Iran after having made The Silent Majority Speaks about our history of revolt and resistance up until then… I not only see similarities with that past event, but feel that today’s revolution could not have been possible without it. Just as 2009 could not have been possible without 1999… And of course nothing without 1979, Mossadegh, the Constitutional Revolution… 

 

So each day, no matter how restless my mind is, it finds some peace, or should I say some deep belief in this movement, this revolution, that connects itself like a chain to all the other movements for freedom in the past. To all the other moments that we were in the streets together fighting for the same things, for freedom and against oppression and authoritarianism. Our struggle is historic, and as a historic struggle it will be victorious, there is no other option. 

 

If it is not now, it will be in the future, and this is what we have to keep in our minds, that we are all also just a link in a long chain. Those who have lost their lives, who have been arrested, who have chosen exile or who have decided to stay, are all of us are links in that chain… This is maybe the only thing that gives me respite these days while the emotions are overwhelming at times. What I have found astonishing, inspiring, and which has given me hope in humanity itself, is the incredible force and solidarity that we have all found within our communities, and beyond… making connections and friends even through the internet, finding allies and force to continue our struggle each day as well. 

 

Whether we have chosen it by ourselves or not, living abroad and not being able to go back to Iran is painful, it is tragic and it is a crime to each and every one of us to have this prohibition. As it is to our brothers and sisters back there, to the whole of our society from which we have been severed. What remains clear is that we desire to be together. We want to salvage our country and our different regions from the clutches of these criminals, and we are impacted in different ways by what it happening. I think it is our duty, as those who are living abroad – with all the traumas and melancholy and emptiness that it can entail – our duty to continue believing in this struggle and doing anything we think can help… Energy, like fire, spreads, and as we all know so well, we worship fire and believe in its strength and purity… That is how I imagine all of us, dancing in circles around a fire one day, back home. 

Les huit dernières semaines se sont fondues les unes dans les autres, et chaque jour semble démarrer et s’achever avec beaucoup de pensées différentes : que s’est-il passé ? combien de plus ont été tué·e·s ? qui a été arrêté·e ? que leur font-ils ?... Des pensées insupportables, rattachées à des images que nous avons tous et toutes à l’esprit, se fondant sur notre passé, nos histoires familiales, les expériences et les traumatismes de nos compatriotes, qui sont d’autant plus insupportables, du moins pour moi, que je ne peux pas faire grand-chose depuis là où, géographiquement, je me trouve aujourd’hui. Mais, parallèlement à ces pensées extrêmement angoissantes, l’autre chose, et la première chose, que je me demande en me réveillant chaque matin, c’est : « Les protestations continuent-elles ? Les gens sont-ils toujours dans la rue ? » Et j’espère de tout mon être que cela continuera jusqu’à la victoire. Cela ne peut pas s’arrêter là. Ayant manifesté dans les rues en 2009, tout en filmant ce qui se passait… Ayant alors pris la décision sans équivoque de ne plus rester silencieuse, me mettant en danger et acceptant la dure réalité de l’impossibilité de retourner en Iran après avoir réalisé The Silent Majority Speaks, qui aborde notre histoire de révolte et de résistance jusqu’alors… Je vois non seulement des similitudes avec cet événement passé, mais je remarque aussi que la révolution actuelle n’aurait pas été possible sans 2009. Tout comme 2009 ne serait jamais arrivé sans 1999… Et, bien sûr, rien ne serait arrivé sans 1979, Mossadegh, la Révolution constitutionnelle…

Alors, chaque jour, aussi tourmenté que soit mon esprit, il trouve la paix, ou plutôt une croyance profonde en ce mouvement, cette révolution, qui se rattache comme une chaîne à tous les autres mouvements pour la liberté de notre histoire. A tous les moments où nous sommes descendu·e·s dans la rue, ensemble, pour nous battre pour les mêmes choses, pour la liberté et contre l’oppression et l’autoritarisme. Notre lutte est historique et, en tant que lutte historique, elle sera victorieuse, il n’y a pas d’autre issue.

Si ce n’est pas aujourd’hui, ce sera demain, et c’est ce qu’il faut qu’on se rappelle toutes et tous, que nous ne sommes qu’un maillon d’une longue chaîne. Celles et ceux qui ont perdu la vie, qui ont été arrêté·e·s, qui ont choisi l’exil ou qui ont décidé de rester, nous toutes et tous, nous sommes des maillons de cette chaîne… C’est sans doute la seule pensée qui me donne du répit ces jours-ci, alors que les émotions peuvent parfois être accablantes. Ce que je trouve stupéfiant, inspirant et qui me donne foi en l’humanité elle-même, c’est la force et la solidarité incroyables que nous avons toutes et tous trouvées au sein de nos communautés, et au-delà… créant des liens et des amitiés, même à travers internet, découvrant des allié·e·s et des forces pour poursuivre chaque jour notre lutte.

Que nous l’ayons choisi de plein gré ou non, vivre à l’étranger et ne pas pouvoir retourner en Iran est douloureux, c’est tragique et cette interdiction constitue un crime envers chacune et chacun de nous. Ainsi qu’envers nos frères et sœurs resté·e·s là-bas, et envers l’ensemble de notre société à laquelle nous avons été amputé·e·s. Ce qui reste certain, c’est que nous désirons rester ensemble. Nous voulons sauver notre pays et nos différentes régions du joug de ces criminels, et nous sommes touché·e·s de diverses manières par ce qui est en train de se passer. Je pense qu’il est de notre devoir, en tant qu’exilé·e·s – avec tous les traumatismes, la mélancolie et le vide que cela implique –, de continuer à croire en cette lutte et à faire tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour la soutenir… Tout comme le feu, l’énergie se propage et, comme nous le savons toutes et tous si bien, nous vénérons le feu et croyons en sa force et sa pureté… C’est ainsi que je nous imagine, dansant un jour en cercle autour d’un grand feu, de retour chez nous.

هشت هفتهٔ گذشته با هم ترکیب شده‌اند، و انگار هر روز با این افکاری شروع شده و پایان میابد: چه اتفاقی افتاد؟ چند نفر دیگر کشته شدند؟ چه کسی دستگیر شده، چه بلایی سرشان می آورند؟  افکار غیر قابل تحملی، که همه ما به واسطهٔ گذشته خود یا خانواده مان، تجارب هموطنانمان و آسیب هایی که دیدیم، با آنها آشنا هستیم. افکاری که حداقل برای من غیر قابل تحمل هستند، چون در موقعیت جغرافیایی که امروز هستم، کار زیادی از دستم بر نمیاید. اما در کنار این افکار استرس زا، سوالات دیگری هم وجود دارند. اولین فکری که هر روز صبح به ذهنم می‌رسد این است که: آیا هنوز ادامه دارد؟ مردم هنوز هم به خیابانها می روند؟ و با تمام وجود آرزو می‌کنم که تا پیروزی ادامه پیدا کند. متوقف شدن ممکن نیست. من در تظاهرات سال ۸۸ شرکت کردم و از همه‌چیز تصویربرداری کردم، چون سکوت دیگر برای من امکان پذیر نبود. تصمیم گرفتم که خودم را در معرض خطر قرار دهم و این حقیقت تلخ که پس از ساختن فیلم The Silent Majority Speaks و ثبت تاریخ شورش و ایستادگیمان دیگر به ایران باز نخواهم گشت را پذیرفتم. من شباهت‌های زیادی بین جریانات امروز و گذشته میبینم، و معتقدم انقلاب امروز بدون اعتراضات سال ۸۸ امکان پذیر نبود، به همان طریق که اعتراضات سال ۸۸ بدون وقایع سال ۷۸ ممکن نبود ... و البته هیچ چیز بدون انقلاب ۵۷، مصدق، و انقلاب مشروطه. 

 

بنابراین هر روز، ذهن آشفته‌ام گاهی به آرامش می‌رسد. آرامشی که اسمش باور عمیق به این جنبش، و به این انقلاب است، که انگار با زنجیر به تمام جنبش های آزادی خواهانه گذشته، تمام دفعاتی که به خیابانها رفتیم و برای یک هدف مشترک جنگیدیم متصل است. برای آزادی، و ضد ظلم و استبداد. مبارزه ما تاریخیست و قطعا به غیر از پیروزی سرانجام دیگری نخواهد داشت.

 

اگر امروز به ثمر نرسد، فردا خواهد رسید. ما هم حلقه‌ای از یک زنجیر بلند هستیم. این چیزیست که باید به خاطر بسپاریم. کسانی که جانشان را در این راه از دست دادند، کسانی که دستگیر شدند، کسانی که وطن را ترک کردند و کسانی که ماندند، همه حلقه هایی از این زنجیر هستند. این تنها نکته ایست که در این روزهای چالش برانگیز و احساسی من را آرام می‌کند. مساله شگفت انگیز و الهام بخش که امید به بشریت را در من برانگیخته می‌کند، نیروی غیر قابل توصیف همبستگی ست که در جوامع اطراف خود و فراتر از آن پیدا کردیم. ارتباطاتی جدیدی برقرار کردیم و حتی دوستانی از طریق اینترنت پیدا کردیم، که قدرت و وحدت لازم برای ادامه دادن را برایمان فراهم کرده ا‌ند.

 

چه تصمیم خودمان باشد، چه دیگری، دوری و نداشتن انتخاب بازگشت به ایران دردناک است و غم انگیز. این یک جنایت در حق ما آدمهاییست که با چنین محدودیتی زندگی می‌کنیم، و همچنین در حق برادران و خواهرانمان در جامعه ای که از آن جدا شده ایم. ما می خواهیم جای جای کشورمان را از چنگ شیادان نجات دهیم، چون همگی به طریقی تحت تاثیر اتفاقات امروز هستیم. ما افرادی که خارج از ایران زندگی می‌کنیم، با وجود زخمها، غصه و پوچی که احساس می‌کنیم، وظیفهٔ داریم به این انقلاب پایبند باشیم و هر کار که از دستمان بر میاید برای کمک به پیروزی آن انجام دهیم. 

 

انرژی مثل آتش گسترش می یابد، و ما آتش پرستان به قدرت و خلوص آن باور داریم. من آینده مان را اینطور تصور می‌کنم: در حال رقصیدن به دور آتش، در وطنمان.

 
 
 
 

The Silent Majority Speaks (2010)

 
 
stfr.png
espanol.png

English / français / فارسی / español

 
 
 

“Each face could be that of a political prisoner or a martyr,” explains Bani Khoshnoudi in The Silent Majority Speaks, shot in Tehran during the “green revolution,” and circulated clandestinely as the work of “The Silent Collective” until 2013. To film a popular uprising against the dictatorship while taking care not to endanger the participants; to summarise a century of more or less insurrectional political upheavals, systematically and bloodily crushed; and to reflect the pernicious, lethal—or, on the contrary, emancipatory—functions of images: the way The Silent Majority Speaks carries out all these tasks is an immediate pointer to what drives the artist, filmmaker, and producer. Eschewing dogmatism, Khoshnoudi practices what might be called “issue activism,” which she has successively applied to popular uprisings in Iran, anti-immigration policy in France, and the Zapotec culture in Mexico. In Les Sauvages dans la cité (The Savages in the City), a book on self-emancipation—whose title chimes neatly with La Pensée Sauvage (The Savage Mind), the Claude Lévi-Strauss-inspired name of Khoshnoudi’s production company—French historian René Parize makes a distinction between “the knowledge of submission” (a single form) and “the knowledges of revolt” (many forms). In dealing not only with political-religious censorship but also strategies of self-censorship, Khoshnoudi develops both the knowledges and skills of revolt, taking as her first target the way personal oppression somatizes and reinforces political repression ––Nicole Brenez

« Chaque visage pourrait être celui d’un prisonnier politique ou d’un martyr », explique Bani Khoshnoudi dans son chef d’œuvre The Silent Majority Speaks, tourné à Téhéran en 2009 au moment du Mouvement vert, puis diffusé clandestinement sous le pseudonyme « The Silent Collective » jusqu’en 2013. Attester d’un soulèvement populaire contre la dictature, tout en prenant soin de ne pas mettre en danger ceux qu’elle filme, récapituler un siècle de soulèvements politiques plus ou moins insurrectionnels et toujours réprimés dans le sang, réfléchir les fonctions létales, toxiques ou au contraire émancipatrices des images : l’ensemble de ces tâches remplies par The Silent Majority Speaks indique d’emblée l’exigence envers elle-même qui anime la plasticienne, cinéaste et productrice Bani Khoshnoudi. Fuyant tout dogmatisme, elle développe ce que l’on pourrait appeler « un activisme de la question », qui s’est exercé successivement sur les manifestations populaires en Iran, la politique anti-migratoire en France, la culture zapotèque au Mexique. Dans un ouvrage consacré à l’auto-émancipation dont le titre, Les sauvages dans la cité, assone avec le nom choisi par Bani Khoshnoudi pour sa maison de production ainsi placée sous l’égide de Claude Lévi-Strauss, « la Pensée sauvage », l’historien René Parize distinguait « le savoir de soumission » et « les savoirs de révolte » Confronté à la censure politico-religieuse autant qu’aux stratégies d’autocensure, le travail de Bani Khoshnoudi développe non seulement une connaissance experte et des « savoir et savoir-faire de révolte » ingénieux, mais aussi, et surtout, comme on pourra le lire ici, l’essentiel : une infrangible conviction. –Nicole Brenez

"هرچهره میتواند متعلق به یک زندانی یا شهید باشد،" این جمله ای است از بنی خشنودی در فیلم اکثریت خاموش به سخن درمی آید، که در تهران در دوره "انقلاب سبز" فیلمبرداری شده بود و تا 2013 به طور مخفیانه به عنوان اثری از "گروه صامت" در چرخش بود. فیلم گرفتن از یک خیزش بزرگ مردمی علیه دیکتاتوری، در حین مراقبت برای حفظ امنیت شرکت کنندگان؛ خلاصه کردن یک قرن شورش سیاسی پرفرازو نشیب که به طور ساختاری و خونین سرکوب میشود؛ و انعکاس توان تخریبی، کشنده – و یا به عکس، رهایی بخش— تصویر: شکلی که اکثریت خاموش به سخن درمی آید همه این کارها را انجام میدهد و فورا نشان میدهد چه چیزی به هنرمند، فیلمساز و تولید کننده فیلم انگیزه این کار را داده است. با اجتناب از جزم گرایی، خشنودی کاری را انجام میدهد که میتوان آن را "اکتیویزم موضوعی" نامید، و وی آن را با موفقیت در مورد خیزش مردمی در ایران، سیاست های ضدمهاجر در فرانسه و فرهنگ زاپاتک در مکزیک به کار میگیرد. در وحشی ها در شهر، کتابی درباره رهاسازی خود—که عنوان آن هم وزن با ذهن وحشی، عنوان موسسه پخش فیلم خشنودی است که ایده آن از کلود لوی-استراس الهام گرفته شده است—تاریخ نگار فرانسوی رنه پرایز به فاصله ای اشاره میکند که بین " آگاهی به تن دادن" (یک فرم یگانه) و "آگاهی ها به انقلاب"(چندین فرم) وجود دارد. در مواجهه با نه فقط سانسور سیاسی-مذهبی، بلکه در استراتژی های سانسور خود، خشنودی به آگاهی ها و مهارت های انقلاب دست میابد، و به عنوان اولین هدف مسیری را انتخاب میکند که در آن ستم فردی به ستم سیاسی جسمیت میبخشد. – نیکول برنز

Interview with Nicole Brenez
The Silent Majority Speaks

English / Français

 

Faced with political-religious censorship as much as certain strategies of self-censorship, Bani Khoshnoudi’s work develops not only an ingenious expertise of “the knowledge and know-how of revolt”, but also and especially, something essential: an unbreakable conviction, as one will discover in the following interview.

 

Nicole Brenez: Could you describe your artistic process: your background, training and achievements?

Bani Khoshnoudi: I began my artistic explorations while very young through drawing and painting, but during my adolescence I quickly became fascinated by photography. My high school had a laboratory, and I signed up for a journalism course to get access to it. I would steal rolls of film so I could do my own photography, which I developed and printed in secret in the darkroom at school. I was so taken when I discovered the effect that light had on film, and was immediately conquered by the paradox of the possibilities and limitations of the camera and celluloid. Since I couldn’t stop taking photographs, my father built me a darkroom at home. Yet when it was time to go to university, my family did not agree to me studying art, so I started out by studying architecture, which my father saw as a compromise between art and science; something that would help me find a job later. Even though I was interested in the aesthetics and historical aspects of architecture, I could tell that this field would be too rigid for me, and my desire to explore photography and the other arts really was irrepressible. After a few months, I gave up my architectural studies and transferred to the photography department, which was located in the same building as the film school. It was there that I discovered my love of cinema and began making films. At first it was through film history or film theory (cinema studies), but philosophy and ethnography also played a big role. Then, little by little I started collaborating on projects and shooting short films. This was in the 1990s, when the cinema community in Austin, Texas was emerging. Richard Linklater and other cinephiles had founded the Austin Film Society, which was where I discovered Tarkovsky, Oshima, Satyajit Ray and others. I assisted local directors who were shooting films and worked on school projects, which allowed me to live an amazing period of experimentation and collaboration. At the same time, I was continuing my studies in Cinema and Italian, and since this was a public university, I was able to take additional courses in sociology, philosophy, literature and history. Thanks to several remarkable teachers, I discovered Godard, Chris Marker, Jean Rouch, Frederick Wiseman and Dennis O’Rourke, among others, but also writers and thinkers such as James Baldwin, Pirandello, Roland Barthes, Hannah Arendt, Cesare Pavese, Donna Haraway, Deleuze… Anyway, my student years marked me deeply. When I finally started making my own films, at first I had no idea what I was doing, or even what kind of films I wanted to create, but once I actually started working, I never doubted my decision or had the slightest desire to do anything else, even if this field is sometimes oppressively precarious.

After completing my studies, I went to live in Europe; first in Rome, then Paris. That same year, I also took my first trip back to Iran after being away for 22 years. I was making several experimental short films that allowed me to explore what I had discovered there, but also here, without feeling obliged to make any strong statement. At the same time I was doing diverse jobs in Paris, and was very active, independently, but also with some groups, in denouncing the situation of immigrants in France and Europe. I visited the Sangatte refugee camp near Calais, and met hundreds of people, many from Iran and Afghanistan, as well as Kurds from Iraq. In 2002, when Sarkozy (then Minister of the Interior) closed the camp, we formed a collective to try and shed some light on the profound injustice and the repressive mechanisms that were used against these people who had crossed half the world. The situation on the streets of Paris was becoming unbearable; hundreds of people (men, women and children) were sleeping outside, even during the winter. In 2004 I made Transit, a short film that I wrote inspired by the stories of migrants I met at Sangatte. I made the film in collaboration with exiles who were in Paris at the time and who essentially played themselves. This was, one might say, my first ‘real’ film, and I was surprised by the response when it came out. I won awards and the film was widely seen. I then made A People in the Shadows, a documentary about the city where I was born, Tehran, while inspired by the methods of Jean Rouch and Frederick Wiseman. The film is a sort of trance- like wandering in the city, exploring both the city itself but also my subjective view of it, as well as the power of the camera, as I filmed it completely hand- held. After completing this film, I was invited to the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, where I had the opportunity to continue with my theoretical research, and was able to make more experimental work in the form of video and sound installations. I was thinking a lot about the archive and first-person testimonies as material to work with. Two years later, I made Ziba, my first fiction feature, which I filmed in Iran, and which somehow marked the end of an ‘Iranian period’ in my work. I currently live in Mexico City, where I have several ongoing projects. And, of course, between 2009 and 2010 I made a documentary called The Silent Majority Speaks, which I have kept secret until recently.

NB: How were you able to make The Silent Majority Speaks ?

BK: Initially, I had no idea that I was going to make a film. I was in Tehran during the 2009 election, and naturally I had started filming in the streets. What I saw and experienced during the weeks leading up to the election was unprecedented; everyone was living in such a state of euphoria that I felt as if I was in a trance while walking around holding my camera. Actually, during the election campaign it was as if we were living in another country. It was a moment of great freedom and tolerance, a time when we could say or do almost anything, even if we still maintained our discretion (and, for women, our headscarves, of course). I sometimes stayed outside for twelve hours straight, walking, talking and filming. At night, I would go out with friends to see the “demonstrations” and spontaneous gatherings. All of this was before the vote took place. The day after the vote, when it became obvious there had been a tremendous fraud, we returned to the streets, but this time in anger. I continued filming until I became afraid for my life – that was the day when they killed Neda Agha-Soltan [editor’s note: June 20, 2009] – and then I left Tehran.

I took my images with me, but since I was so devastated by what I had been through and what was still going on in Iran, it took me some time before I felt capable of returning to these images and constructing the film. I initially wanted to get rid of the material and just give it to somebody else to use, because it was too much for me and I didn’t know how to make a film without risking never being able to return to Iran again. But after talking with two or three possible candidates, I soon realised that I had a responsibility to everyone who allowed me to film them and spoke openly and fearlessly in front of the camera. Then I became fascinated by what was happening on the internet; the videos people posted on YouTube, etc. I saw it as a signal for me that it was necessary to talk about this new way of protesting, while documenting the oppression and violence of the state. Unknowingly, Iranians were creating a people’s archive that would serve us in both the present and the future. The Iranian protests actually set a precedent so far as the use of social networks and the Internet were concerned, since we’ve subsequently seen them being used during revolts in many other countries, notably Tunisia and Egypt. I knew that there was something to say about all this, and so I began developing the idea for what would become The Silent Majority Speaks. I only started really working with the material once I received financial and moral support from the Jan Vrijman Fund of the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam – IDFA, [now known as the IDFA Bertha Fund]. They really wanted to help bring this film into existence and assured me that my identity would be protected. The film also wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of some very dear and courageous people who contributed to the post-production, and especially the anonymous individuals who filmed on the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, and posted their images on the Internet. This film is dedicated to them for both their courage and the indispensable contribution they have made to our collective memory.

NB: Did you immediately want to create a grand political fresco, or was your initial impulse simply to document the immediate history?

BK: At first I thought I would do a pretty classical film dealing with events before and after the 2009 election, that would convey the general feeling of the people in the streets and the events that were happening. My intentions for the film actually developed in several stages. Initially, I wanted to document what was happening in the streets during the campaign, focusing on this surprising and never before seen freedom of speech that we were experiencing in Iran then. It showed what we would be capable of if we didn’t have the repressive machine hovering over us. Then, just after the fraud or ‘coup d’état’ (as we were calling it) took place, I knew that I had to document the immediate history as it was unfolding and the revolt that was taking shape, without knowing where all this might be heading (so far as the movement was concerned as well as for my images). After leaving Iran, I began to accumulate images into a sort of personal archive, and as I was living with the images that I had filmed, I started developing more profound ideas and thinking in increasingly broader ways about the events and the historical moment. During this period, I was rereading familiar texts and was researching further into Iranian history, politics and sociology. I read dozens of books and texts, sometimes on the history of Iran or testimonies of political prisoners (from the past or even the present). I then searched for images and sounds from the past and the present that seemed to reflect our modern history. These were photos, archival film of demonstrations and other images of political events, propaganda films, television images, audio and visual clips from the war in Iraq, images from trials from the Shah’s time, as well as other trials filmed in 2009, and of course scenes of violence as people kept documenting them in the current revolt. For a few months this become a sort of sickness for me, since the information and images kept piling up, and I never stopped filling my hard drives with them. It was one thing after another, and I almost went crazy. At one point I just said stop, and began thinking about the editing, about how to put all this material into some kind of order. That was when I knew I wanted to make a bigger and more extended film dealing with the question of protest and revolution in Iran, but also about the importance and impact of images from the past and the present on our behavior, as well as the dynamic of the archive, of memory and of collective will.

NB: Did you have certain stylistic references in terms of visual-political analysis, such as The Hour of the Furnaces (1968) by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, or Chris Marker’s A Grin Without a Cat (1977), or Armand Mattelart’s The Spiral (1976)?

BK: Of course. I discovered Solanas and Marker, but also Patricio Guzmán’s The Battle of Chile (1975-1979) and other similar films of the same era when I was at university. A Grin Without a Cat has always been a monumental film for me, and I have watched it several times. Each time I watch it, I find new ideas in it, which is in a way what I love about Chris Marker. This film influenced me because, as a filmmaker, Chris Marker was not afraid to take some distance from his subjects in order to make us question the politics and ideologies behind the various movements and political parties, and thus to discover the meaning of human participation in it all. His films and his intervention in his images are of a superior intelligence, and a great source of inspiration. I also liked many Cuban films from the 1960s, but sometimes I would be put off by the propaganda and tend to prefer when films ask questions, even if these questions remain unanswered, instead of conveying established or absolute ideas. Marker’s films (as well as those of Godard from his Dziga Vertov Group period) inspired me to ask questions and to open my mind, which I believe should be the purpose of this kind of cinema.

 

NB: The Silent Majority Speaks is a particularly rich and eloquent film on the diverse and sometimes contradictory role that images play in our collective history. How did you construct and organize this aspect of your work?

BK: I had created my own archive with all kinds of images, sounds and texts, as well as all the material that I was finding on the Internet on this subject. Using my own material as a starting point, I was then going after other images. I love coincidence and the role that other people’s participation can play in the process of artistic creation, so I was very open to chance and what I was coming across during those months of work. After assembling a rough cut that ran approximately three hours, I contacted an editor, who unfortunately was not available to work with me, but she looked at the material and asked me questions that then sparked ideas in me about how to go about finding a structure. I covered a wall in my studio with paper and began attaching notes to it with different ideas, phrases, thoughts, but also photos from my archive. I established a kind of ‘timeline’ out of this material, which was physically posted up on my wall, and then I started making connections and associations between the various elements. While editing, I took images from my ‘archive’ and followed the immediate associations that came up, and then the images themselves instigated others, and little by little, the central ideas of the film took form. The repetitions that I saw in the material imposed themselves on me, and so I based the voice-over that I wrote on this as well. I would say that the history of these images, from the beginning of the 20th century to the present, was already there; I just had to do this excavation and establish the connections that lie behind it all.

 

NB: How was the film distributed? Why is it now possible to reveal your name, which was originally concealed behind the initial pseudonym that you used, ‘The Silent Collective’?

BK: The film has received very little distribution, probably because there was no “director” to present it in the beginning. For reasons related to my need to travel freely to Iran and to make other films there, I kept this secret for a long time. IDFA, the festival that gave me support to make the film, screened it in their festival, but since they don’t really have a distribution branch, they couldn’t do much more for it. Then, thanks to an Iranian friend who lives in Germany, the film was screened in galleries in exhibitions and events that dealt with the revolts in Arab countries (the Arab Spring), as well as those related to his own work on collective memory. He screened the film a few times, and some people from Egypt saw it there and then showed it in Cairo, where I know it had a strong resonance. And that was it, up until I revealed my identity, mainly thanks to your support, Nicole. After that, the film was shown in a few festivals, starting with ART OF THE REAL, which is curated by Dennis Lim and Rachael Rakes at the Lincoln Center in New York, and then in Lussas. Finally, it was Jocelyne Saab who programmed it for her festival in Lebanon, but it was censored and banned from being shown by the Lebanese authorities, so that never took place. Now, I would like the film to be able to be seen more. Even if I will never have the certainty that it’s safe for me, I’m ready now to take the risk. There will always be this uncertainty for me, but I feel that the film should be seen. In any case, the film is also the result of the collective archives that Iranians were unknowingly compiling, so the material can’t be seen as work of an individual, even if I was the person who made the film.

 

NB: The Silent Majority Speaks shares certain images with Where Is This place? This is Iran, My Land and Yours (2009). What is the relationship between these two films?

BK: You mean the images with which I begin the film? The shots that I took from a video posted on YouTube, with the girl in Tehran talking over nighttime images? In fact, just after the revolt began, when night would fall over the city, we would all go up to the rooftops and yell out “Death to the Dictator” (it seems people were doing the same thing in other cities too). This was our way of continuing the protest at night and to communicate with each other across the city’s rooftops, in order to remind ourselves that we were not alone. Living in Iran can sometimes be intensely alienating, because it’s not easy to live openly or freely in the public sphere, which causes everyone to stick to their own circle within the safety of their own homes. As in any revolt anywhere in the world, when night falls the risk of arrests and disappearances increases.  That’s why we would stop and go home every night, but then at nine o’clock we would go up to the rooftops in order to continue protesting, by shouting into the darkness. I also filmed these nightly sessions, but one morning (I think it was just after the first night), I saw this girl’s video that was circulating on social networks. Like many others, I was extremely touched, and I felt that she conveyed a clear idea of our resistance within the alienation of Iran.  For me, it was a poetic way of communicating the anti-authoritarian discourse that was growing in the streets. This girl, with her trembling voice yet strong presence, expressed everything we felt: a certain despair and a sense of being imprisoned or trapped, even though we were in the beginnings of a huge revolt, the most significant to have taken place in Iran since the Revolution of 1979.

NB: How does The Silent Majority Speaks, 2010, relate to your installations Paradox Of Time: Studies in Memory (Parts 1 – 3), 2012?

BK: Since I needed to continue my research into issues of repetition – repetitions of history, of revolt, trauma, images, and human acts – after having finished the film, I started making a series of studies on images, their duration, and how they impact memory and affect. While playing with durations and juxtapositions, I discovered that something psychological and emotional happens when we watch archival images that refer to key moments of history. These studies, that I made with archival footage, show our profound attachment to and dependency in terms of the past and collective memory. Even if we were not present during certain events or do not remember them well, our minds retain these images of revolts, victories, violence, joy, and pain. I would like to explore and better understand the power of images to provoke and stimulate. Images are ultra-powerful; we experienced that during the revolt in 2009. The images of violence and death documented by citizens and posted on the Internet for everyone to see, were a way of calling out to our collective memory and will, as a means to call for action. While I am wary of the power of images, especially archival images, I still found it important that people continued documenting the events. This is a concern I have, but for which I have reached no conclusions. Nonetheless, inspires me to continue carrying out these studies in the form of installations.

 

NB: As a result (provisional, of course) of these intense experiences and reflections on the representation of collective history, what has become of your conception of the power of film and images in general?

BK: I think cinema and images are still, and always will be, ultra-powerful. In fact, I would say that they have taken on a more central and important place in our lives than before, even if the way we relate to them now has more to do with consumption than with selection. I think Walter Benjamin was definitively right about that, even if sometimes it is not what I am the most worried about. For me, the real problem or crisis has more to do with our inability to reflect and analyse, sometimes to reject or be critical when watching films and the flow of images. We no longer cultivate the way we look and perceive, but easily accept trends, the influences and dynamics of the market and its derivatives (the film industry, its festivals and even some critics are involved in this). Laziness, conformism and the acceptance of capitalist and liberal norms and values on the part of producers and viewers of films, have contributed to a certain banalisation of our powerlessness. I say powerlessness because we often do not require ourselves to understand what we are saying or seeing in films. We like things that confirm our preconceptions; we give an advantage to films that do not put us into question and that reiterate a certain Eurocentric taste and language. It is to the point where we can no longer complain about being victims of American hegemony, since we reproduce this hegemony in our own contexts.

 

NB: What other contemporary initiatives relating to film activism seem the most significant to you?

BK: Unfortunately I have not see many of these films, so I cannot give you a satisfactory answer. I haven’t seen many of the films made about the revolts in the Arab countries (Egypt, Tunisia). The Mosireen group did interesting work in Egypt, although that is more seen within the context of contemporary art than in cinemas. Often times it seems that the films being produced by today’s movements try to push their discourse without nuance or complexity. There is no room for reflection, which is what interests me the most in the end. I’m thinking of certain films linked with the anti-globalist movement (if it still exists), Occupy movements, etc. A number of filmmakers have become interested in political topics, but sometimes it seems more like opportunism or a way to make money from something that should not be profitable. It has almost become a genre in itself.  On the other hand, I sometimes see short pieces or testimonies filmed by people who are involved in struggles in places that are quite forgotten and poorly documented. I’m thinking of videos made by independent resistance groups, like the Community Police for example, in regions such as Guerrero or Michoacán in Mexico. These documents seem very important to me because they not only have been made with a purpose for the present moment, to provide information to the world that continues to be blind to their struggles; but also in an attempt to create an archive of testimonials that will be needed later. But in general, I prefer films that interrogate the politics of the image or aesthetic practices, rather than those that deal with politics period

.

NB: For close to a decade, the art world has been reflecting on the artistic treatment of archival documents, what Okwui Enwezor called “Archive Fever” in 2008. In this context, does the work of any specific artists or curators particularly interest you?

BK: I like Martha Rosler’s work with photomontages, and am fascinated by the work of Alfredo Jaar as well. These artists are both working in highly politicized ways on our gaze and our desire, in addition to the subjects they deal with. W.G. Sebald’s books, which for me belong to the world of literature, but also closely relate to the world of art and (fictitious?) archives, are very interesting to me. The way in which Sebald speaks of origins, History, our stories and our memory, touches me deeply.  As far as cinema is concerned, there is Andrei Ujică and his tireless work on Romania; not only the film he co- directed with Harun Farocki – Vidéogrammes d’une rèvolution (1992), which is a masterpiece – but also the last one he made using Ceausescu’s personal archive [editor’s note: The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, 2010]. I also like the playful but still highly politicized work of Craig Baldwin, who belongs to a tradition close to that of René Viénet, because I find that these films allow us to reflect on how images are manufactured and manipulated, as well as our naive faith in what they tell us.

 

NB: Do you have any advice to give, or a message to relay, or a practical solution to communicate to other filmmakers in the world that find themselves in an oppressive situation?

BK: It’s a difficult question to reply to because each person lives in a particular situation and has to confront different challenges and threats as he or she is making work. In any case, what I have learned from my own situation, is that one has to stay honest with oneself and do only as much as is possible in a given situation. The oppression can also come from inside oneself, or in any case, be the result of outside pressures that we repeat unto ourselves. The only solution that I see is to believe in yourself and your projects, and to not succumb to the doubts that are caused by outside forces.  On the other hand, we cannot pretend to provoke huge changes by making films, if not by putting out ideas and experiences that we have lived through and contemplated in the present and in the long term. We must believe in our projects even when confronted with antagonistic forces. I believe that we must also listen to the voice inside us, to not be afraid to make alliances and to create our own context in order to be able to express ourselves while facing the obstacles. Each context and each person also changes as time goes by, and it is difficult for me to know how I would act today if I were in the same situation as in 2009, during the Iranian elections, for example. We cannot calculate everything, and even less so control what happens around us, but we can remain faithful to our principles and to a certain ethic in our methods. I think that we can at least be sure of not losing the essential: our beliefs, our passion, and our attention, which allow us to practice creativity and to combat oppression, in whatever forms it comes in. In the end, silence is always worse than speaking out and suffering the consequences.
Paris-Mexico, 2013-2015.


Translated by Brad Stevens and revised by Bani Khoshnoudi.
* René Parize, « Savoir de soumission ou savoirs de révolte ? L’exemple du Creusot », in Jean Borreil (dir.), Les sauvages dans la cité. Auto-émancipation du peuple et instruction des prolétaires au XIXe siècle, Seyssel: Champ Vallon, 1985, pp. 91-103.

Confronté à la censure politico-religieuse autant qu’aux stratégies d’autocensure, le travail de Bani Khoshnoudi développe non seulement une connaissance experte et des « savoir et savoir-faire de révolte » ingénieux, mais aussi, et surtout, comme on pourra le lire ici, l’essentiel : une infrangible conviction.

 

Nicole Brenez : Peux-tu nous retracer ton parcours artistique : contexte, formation, réalisations ?

Bani Khoshnoudi : Toute jeune, j’ai commencé mon exploration artistique avec le dessin et la peinture, mais à l’adolescence j’ai été vite séduite par la photographie. Mon lycée avait un laboratoire, je me suis inscrite aux cours de Journalisme afin d’y avoir accès. Je volais de la pellicule à l’école pour faire mes propres photos que je développais et imprimais en cachette. La découverte de la lumière et ses effets sur la pellicule me fascinait, puis ce paradoxe entre les possibilités et les limites de la caméra et de l’argentique m’a conquise. Je ne pouvais pas arrêter de faire des photos et mon père m’a ensuite construit une chambre noire à la maison. Pourtant, quand il fut temps d’aller à l’Université, ma famille n’était pas d’accord pour que je fasse des études d’Art, donc j’ai commencé mes études en Architecture, ce que mon père voyait comme un compromis entre l’art et la science : quelque chose qui me permettrait de trouver un travail plus tard. Même si les aspects esthétiques et historiques de l’architecture m’intéressaient, j’ai senti que ça allait être un métier trop rigide pour moi, puis mon envie d’explorer la photographie et d’autres arts était irrépressible. Après quelques mois, j’ai abandonné mes études d’Architecture et suis allée vers le département de photographie qui se trouvait dans le même immeuble et au sein de la même école que pour les études de Cinéma. Là, j’ai découvert ma cinéphilie et ai commencé à faire des films. Au début par le biais des cours d’histoire de cinéma et de théorie (film studies), mais la philosophie et l’ethnographie ont joué un grand rôle également. Puis, petit à petit, j’ai commencé à collaborer à des projets et à tourner de petits films. Dans les années 90 à Austin au Texas, la communauté du cinéma était en train de grandir. Richard Linklater et d’autres cinéphiles avaient fondé l’Austin Film Society, où j’ai découvert Tarkovski, Oshima, Satyajit Ray et d’autres sur grand écran. On participait aux tournages des réalisateurs locaux et des projets d’école, ce qui m’a permis de vivre un grand moment d’expérimentation et de partage. En même temps, je continuais mes études de cinéma et d’Italien et, puisque c’était une université publique, j’ai pu explorer les cours de sociologie, philosophie, littérature, histoire. C’est grâce à quelques professeurs remarquables que j’ai découvert Godard, Chris Marker, Jean Rouch, Frederick Wiseman, Dennis O’Rourke, parmi d’autres, mais aussi des écrivains et penseurs comme James Baldwin, Pirandello, Roland Barthes, Hannah Arendt, Cesare Pavese, Donna Haraway, Deleuze… Bref, mes années d’études m’ont marquée profondément. Quand j’ai finalement commencé à réaliser mes propres films, je ne savais pas trop ce que je faisais au début, ni les types de films que je voulais créer, mais une fois à pied d’œuvre, je n’ai plus jamais douté de ma décision ni voulu faire autre chose, même si parfois ce métier s’avère d’une précarité oppressante.

Après mes études, je suis partie vivre en Europe, d’abord à Rome et ensuite à Paris. Cette année-là, j’ai aussi fait mon premier voyage de retour en Iran, après 22 ans. Réaliser alors de petits films expérimentaux me permettait d’explorer ce que je découvrais ici et là-bas, sans me sentir obligée de faire des « déclarations » fortes. En même temps, je travaillais à droite à gauche à Paris et militais indépendamment, et au sein de groupes qui dénonçaient la situation des immigrés en France et en Europe. J’ai visité le camp à Sangatte près de Calais et j’ai rencontré des centaines de personnes, beaucoup venant d’Iran, d’Afghanistan, beaucoup de Kurdes d’Iraq. En 2002, quand Sarkozy (alors Ministre de l’Intérieur) a fermé le camp, on a formé un Collectif pour essayer de faire la lumière sur cette profonde injustice et sur la machine répressive contre ces gens qui avaient traversé le monde. La situation dans les rues de Paris devenait insupportable ; des centaines de personnes (hommes, femmes et enfants) dormaient dans la rue, même l’hiver. En 2004 j’ai réalisé Transit, un court-métrage écrit en m’inspirant des histoires de migrants rencontrés à Sangatte. C’est avec des migrants qui se trouvaient alors à Paris que j’ai fait le film ; ils ont joué leur propre rôle. C’était mon premier « vrai » film, on peut dire, et j’ai été étonnée par la réponse. J’ai obtenu des prix et le film a voyagé partout. J’ai ensuite réalisé A People in the Shadows (Un peuple dans l’ombre), un documentaire sur ma ville natale, Téhéran, en m’inspirant des méthodes de Jean Rouch et de Frederick Wiseman. Le film est une sorte d’errance-transe dans la ville, explorant la ville même, mais aussi ma subjectivité et la puissance de la caméra que je gardais toujours à la main. Après ce film, j’ai été invitée à suivre une année d’études au sein du Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program où j’ai eu l’opportunité de continuer mes recherches en théorie et aussi de travailler de manière plus expérimentale, en montant des installations vidéo et sonores et en réfléchissant à l’archive et au témoignage comme matière. Deux ans plus tard, j’ai réalisé Ziba, mon premier long-métrage de fiction, tourné en Iran, qui marquait un peu la fin d’une époque « iranienne » de mon travail. Aujourd’hui je vis à Mexico, où j’ai plusieurs projets en cours. Et bien sûr, entre 2009 et 2010, j’ai fait le documentaire The Silent Majority Speaks, que j’ai gardé secret jusqu’à aujourd’hui.

NB : Comment la réalisation de The Silent Majority Speaks a-t-elle été rendue possible ?

BK : Tout d’abord, je ne savais pas que je ferais un film. J’étais à Téhéran pendant les élections en 2009 et naturellement, j’avais commencé à filmer dans la rue. Ce que j’ai vu et vécu pendant ces semaines menant aux élections était inédit : on vivait un moment euphorique qui m’a presque mise en transe lorsque j’errais avec ma caméra à la main. En fait, pendant la campagne électorale, c’était comme si on vivait dans un autre pays. C’était un moment de grande liberté et de tolérance où l’on pouvait quasiment tout dire, tout faire, même si on gardait notre discrétion (et pour les femmes, notre voile sur la tête, bien sûr). Je restais parfois 12 heures dehors, marchant, parlant, filmant et ensuite dans la nuit, on sortait avec une amie pour voir les « manifestations » et rassemblements spontanés ; tout ça c’était avant le vote. Le lendemain du vote, quand il fut évident qu’il y avait eu une fraude énorme, on est sorti dans la rue, mais cette fois en colère. J’ai continué à filmer jusqu’au jour où j’ai eu peur pour ma vie – c’était le jour où ils ont tué Neda Agha-Soltan [20 juin 2009, NdE] – puis je suis partie de Téhéran. J’ai pris mes images avec moi, encore frappée par tout ce que j’avais vécu et tout ce qui continuait à se passer en Iran et donc j’ai mis beaucoup de temps avant de vraiment pouvoir retourner à ces images et construire le film. Au début je voulais me débarrasser du matériel, le donner à quelqu’un d’autre, à qui voudrait faire un film, car c’était trop pour moi et je ne savais pas comment le réaliser sans prendre le risque de ne plus pouvoir retourner en Iran. Mais après avoir parlé avec deux, trois personnes, je me suis vite rendue compte que j’avais une responsabilité envers tous les gens qui m’avaient permis de les filmer et qui avaient parlé ouvertement, sans peur, devant la caméra. Puis je me suis intéressée à tout ce qui se passait ensuite sur le net, les vidéos que les gens postaient sur Youtube, etc. C’était comme un signe pour moi qu’il fallait parler de cette nouvelle manière de protester, tout en documentant l’oppression et la violence de l’État. Sans le savoir, les gens étaient en train de créer une archive populaire qui nous servirait dans le présent comme dans le futur. En fait, les protestations en Iran ont établi un précédent dans l’utilisation des réseaux sociaux et de l’Internet, que l’on a vu ensuite utilisé dans beaucoup d’autres pays, la Tunisie et l’Égypte entre autres. Je savais qu’il y avait quelque chose à dire là-dessus et j’ai commencé à développer l’idée du film. Puis j’ai commencé à vraiment travailler avec le matériau dès que j’ai reçu l’appui financier et moral, dont la protection de mon identité, du Jan Vrijman Fund du Festival de documentaire d’Amsterdam (IDFA). Ils m’ont assuré que personne ne se rendrait compte de qui j’étais, et qu’ils voulaient vraiment m’aider à ce que le film existe. Le film n’aurait pas été possible non plus sans la participation de quelques chères personnes très courageuses qui m’ont aidé pour la post-production, et surtout de tous ces gens anonymes qui ont filmé dans les rues de Téhéran et dans d’autres villes d’Iran et qui ont envoyé leurs images sur le net. Ce film est pour eux ; pour leur courage et leur indispensable participation à notre mémoire collective.

NB : As-tu tout de suite souhaité réaliser une grande fresque politique, ou s’agissait-il d’abord de documenter l’histoire immédiate ?

BK : Au début, je pensais que j’allais faire un film assez classique où je traiterais des événements d’avant et d’après les élections de 2009, en rendant compte du sentiment général des gens dans la rue et des événements. De fait, mes intentions avec le film se sont élaborées en plusieurs étapes. Tout d’abord, je voulais documenter ce qui se passait dans les rues pendant la campagne, cette espèce de liberté de paroles si inédite et étonnante dans le contexte iranien actuel ; une preuve de ce dont on était capable quand il n’y avait pas la machine répressive au-dessus de nous. Puis, juste après la fraude, ou « Coup d’État » comme on l’a nommé, je savais qu’il fallait documenter l’histoire immédiate qui se déroulait et la révolte qui se formait, sans savoir où tout cela nous menait (pour le mouvement et pour mes images). Ensuite, une fois partie d’Iran, en commençant à accumuler des documents dans une archive personnelle, en vivant avec les images que j’avais filmées, je commençai à réfléchir à des idées plus larges et plus profondes sur les événements et le moment historique. Pendant ce temps, je relisais des textes que je connaissais déjà et je me suis documentée encore sur l’histoire, la politique et la sociologie iraniennes. J’ai lu des dizaines de livres et textes, parfois sur l’histoire de l’Iran, parfois des témoignages des prisonniers politiques (dans le passé et dans le présent). J’ai effectué ensuite une recherche sur les images et les sons de notre passé et notre présent, qui me paraissaient participer d’une réflexion de notre histoire moderne. Il s’agissait de photos, de films d’archives sur les manifestations et d’autres images des événements politiques, des films de propagandes, des images de télévision, des clips sonores et visuels de la guerre avec l’Iraq, des procès filmés datant de l’époque du Chah et de 2009, et bien sûr les scènes de violences que les gens continuaient à documenter pendant la révolte contemporaine. Durant quelques mois, c’était devenu un peu une maladie pour moi, car l’information et les images n’arrêtaient pas de s’empiler et je n’arrêtais pas de remplir mes disques durs. Avec chaque chose en venait une autre ; je perdais un peu la tête. À un moment donné, j’ai dit « STOP » et commencé à réfléchir au montage, comment trouver un « ordre » pour tout ce matériel. C’est à ce moment que j’ai su que je voulais faire un film plus large et étendu sur les questions de révolte et de révolution en Iran, mais aussi sur l’importance et l’impact des images du passé et du présent sur notre comportement, puis sur les dynamiques d’archive, de mémoire et de volonté collectives.

NB : Avais-tu des repères stylistiques en matière d’analyse politique visuelle, tels L’Heure des Brasiers de Fernando Solanas et Octavio Getino, Le Fond de l’air est rouge de Chris Marker ou La Spirale d’Armand Mattelart ?

BK : Bien sûr. J’ai découvert Solanas, Marker mais aussi La Bataille du Chili de Guzmán et d’autres films similaires de la même époque lorsque j’étais à l’Université. Le Fond de l’Air est Rouge a toujours été un film monumental pour moi, je l’ai vu plusieurs fois. À chaque visionnage je trouve de nouvelles idées, c’est ce que j’adore chez Chris Marker. Ce film m’a influencée car en tant que réalisateur, Chris Marker n’avait pas peur de prendre un peu de distance avec son sujet pour nous amener à questionner la politique et l’idéologie derrière les mouvements et les partis, pour y retrouver le sens de la participation de l’être humain. Son film et son intervention dans ses images sont d’une immense intelligence, une source d’inspiration. J’ai aussi aimé des films cubains des années 60, mais parfois la propagande me dérangeait et je préférais justement quand les films posaient des questions, quitte à les laisser sans réponse, au lieu de nous servir des idées accomplies ou totalisantes. Les films de Marker (et aussi de Godard pour son époque Groupe Dziga Vertov) m’incitaient à me poser des questions et ouvrir mon esprit, ce qui je pense devrait être le but de ce genre de cinéma.

NB : The Silent Majority Speaks est un film particulièrement éloquent et riche sur les fonctions diverses et parfois contradictoires que jouent les images dans l’histoire collective. Comment as-tu conçu et organisé cette dimension de ton essai ?

BK : J’avais constitué ma propre archive, avec toutes sortes d’images, sons et textes, puis avec tout ce que je trouvais sur Internet sur ce thème. J’avais collecté des photos et vidéos de beaucoup de sources différentes. À partir de ma propre documentation, je partais à la recherche d’autres images. J’aime la coïncidence, j’aime le rôle que la participation d’autres personnes peut jouer dans une création artistique, donc j’étais aussi ouverte au hasard et à ce qui m’arrivait pendant ces mois de travail. Après avoir établi une sorte de rough cut de trois heures, j’ai fait appel à une monteuse, qui n’avait malheureusement pas le temps de travailler avec moi, mais elle a regardé le matériel et m’a posé des questions qui ont suscité des idées sur les processus capables de donner un ordre ou sens au montage. J’ai couvert un mur de mon studio de papier et commencé à y épingler des idées, des phrases, des réflexions, mais aussi des photos tirées de mon archive. J’ai établi une espèce de « timeline » avec ces éléments, physiquement sur le mur, et ensuite j’effectuais des connexions et des associations entre ces éléments. Au montage, je me servais des images de mon « archive » et je suivais les associations premières, les images elles-mêmes en provoquaient d’autres et petit à petit les idées centrales du film ont pris forme. Les répétitions que je voyais dans le matériel se sont imposées à moi et j’ai donc rédigé sur cette base un texte en voix-off. Je dirais que l’histoire de ces images, du début du siècle jusqu’au présent, était déjà là, il fallait juste accomplir l’excavation et établir les associations.

NB : Comment le film a-t-il circulé ? Pourquoi a-t-il été possible de dévoiler le nom que recouvrait le pseudonyme initial de “The Silent Collective” ?

BK : Le film a très peu circulé, sans doute justement parce qu’il n’y avait pas « d’auteur » déclaré. Pour des raisons liées à mon envie de pouvoir voyager librement en Iran et pour faire d’autres films là-bas, j’ai gardé le secret pendant un bon moment. Le festival qui a donné de l’argent, IDFA, l’a montré, mais comme ils n’ont pas de branche de distribution, ils n’ont pas pu faire beaucoup plus pour le film. Ensuite, grâce à un ami iranien qui vit en Allemagne, le film a été montré lors de projections dans des galeries et pendant des expositions et événements autour des révoltes dans les pays arabes (le printemps arabe) et aussi liés à sa recherche sur la mémoire collective. Il a montré le film quelquefois, des gens en Égypte l’ont vu et l’ont montré au Caire, où je sais qu’il a eu une résonance forte. Puis c’était tout, jusqu’à ce que j’aie pu révéler mon identité, grâce à ton soutien d’ailleurs, Nicole. Après cela, le film a été montré dans quelques festivals, en commençant par ART OF THE REAL, qui est programmé par Dennis Lim et Rachael Rakes au Lincoln Center à New York, puis à Lussas, Ensuite, il a été programmé par Jocelyne Saab dans son festival au Liban mais c’est là où il a subi la censure et a été interdit, donc finalement elle n’a pas pu le montrer. Aujourd’hui, j’ai envie que le film ait une vie et puisse circuler plus largement. Même si je n’aurai jamais de certitudes, je suis prête à prendre ce risque aujourd’hui. C’est quand même et toujours un risque pour moi, mais je sens qu’il est temps que le film soit vu. Il est le fruit aussi des archives collectives que les gens en Iran ont inconsciemment construites et donc le matériau ne pourra jamais être décrit comme un travail purement individuel ou né seulement de ma propre volonté, même si c’est moi qui ai réalisé le film.

NB : The Silent Majority Speaks partage certains plans avec Where is this place? This is Iran, My Land and yours (2009). Quels sont les rapports entre ces deux films ?

BK : Tu parles des images avec lesquelles je commence le film ? Les plans que j’ai pris de la vidéo publiée sur Youtube, avec la fille à Téhéran qui parle sur les images dans la nuit ? En fait, juste après que la révolte a commencé, quand la nuit tombait sur Téhéran, nous montions tous sur les toits pour crier « Mort au Dictateur » (il paraît que cela se passait de la même manière dans d’autres villes). C’était une manière de continuer la protestation et de communiquer entre nous à travers les toits de la ville, pour se rappeler que nous n’étions pas seuls. De fait, la vie en Iran peut parfois être vécue comme une aliénation intense car ce n’est pas facile d’avoir une vie publique très ouverte ou libre. Donc chacun se replie sur soi-même dans la sécurité du chez soi. Comme dans n’importe quelle révolte, n’importe où dans le monde, quand la nuit tombe, grandit le risque d’arrestations et de disparitions. C’est pourquoi on rentrait chez nous tous les soirs afin de se retrouver sur les toits à 21h pour continuer les manifestations, en criant dans la nuit. J’avais filmé aussi ces sessions de cris nocturnes, mais un matin (le lendemain de la première nuit, me semble-t-il), j’ai découvert la vidéo de cette fille qui circulait sur les réseaux sociaux. J’ai été très touchée, comme beaucoup de monde, et je trouvais qu’elle transmettait une idée claire de notre résistance et de notre situation d’aliénation en Iran. Pour moi, elle transmettait de manière poétique le discours antiautoritaire qui grandissait dans la rue. Cette fille, avec sa voix qui tremble, mais une présence forte, exprimait tout ce que nous ressentions : un désespoir et un sentiment d’être enfermé et coincé, même si on se situait au début d’une révolte immense, la plus grande depuis la Révolution en 1979.

NB : Comment The Silent Majority Speaks, 2010, s’articule-t-il avec les installations Paradox Of Time : Studies in Memory (Parts 1 – 3), qui datent de 2012 ?

BK : Comme j’avais besoin de continuer ma recherche sur les questions de répétition – de l’histoire, des révoltes, des traumas, des images, des actes humains – j’ai commencé à faire, bien après avoir terminé le film, une série d’études sur l’image, la durée et ce que cela provoquait au niveau de la mémoire et de l’affect. Je découvrais, en jouant avec la durée et la juxtaposition, que quelque chose de très particulier s’éveille, mentalement et émotionnellement, face à des images d’archives qui renvoient à des moments forts de l’histoire. Ces études, faites avec des images d’archives, révèlent notre profond attachement et notre dépendance à l’égard du passé et de la mémoire collective. Même si on n’était pas présent ou si on ne se rappelle pas bien, l’imaginaire garde ces images (de révoltes, de victoires, de violence, de joie, de douleur) en lui, et le pouvoir des images à provoquer ou stimuler est un phénomène que je voudrais étudier et comprendre mieux. Les images sont surpuissantes, on l’a vécu pendant la révolte de 2009. Les images de violences et de morts documentées par des citoyens et mises en ligne pour que tout le monde les voie, c’était une manière de faire appel à la mémoire et à la volonté collectives pour ensuite provoquer de l’action. Alors que je me méfie du pouvoir des images, surtout des images d’archives, je trouvais essentiel que les gens participent à cette documentation. C’est un problème qui me préoccupe, mais pour lequel je n’ai pas de solution. C’est aussi pourquoi j’ai conçu ces études en forme d’installations, que je continue à monter aujourd’hui.

 

NB : À l’issue (bien sûr provisoire) de ces très fortes expériences et réflexions sur la représentation de l’histoire collective, où en es-tu de tes conceptions des puissances du film et de l’image en général ?

BK : Je pense que le cinéma et l’image sont encore – et pour toujours – surpuissants et je pense qu’ils ont pris une place encore plus centrale et importante dans nos vies, même si la manière d’entrer en contact avec eux relève désormais presque de l’ordre de la consommation et moins de la sélection. Je dirais que Walter Benjamin avait définitivement raison, même si ce n’est pas ce qui me préoccupe le plus. Pour moi le vrai problème, ou la crise, réside plutôt dans notre incapacité à réfléchir, à analyser voire parfois à rejeter ou être critique devant un film ou face au flux des images. On ne cultive plus notre manière de voir et percevoir, mais nous acceptons facilement les tendances, les jeux et les influences des marchés et de leurs dérivés (l’industrie du cinéma, ses festivals et même ses critiques y sont impliqués). La paresse, le conformisme et l’acceptation des normes et valeurs capitalistes et libérales, en tant que producteurs ou spectateurs des films, ont contribué à la banalisation de notre impuissance. Je dis « impuissance » au sens où souvent, on n’exige plus de comprendre ce qu’on fait ou voit au cinéma. On aime ce qui confirme nos préconceptions, on favorise les films qui ne nous remettent pas en cause et réitèrent un certain eurocentrisme du goût et du langage. De sorte que l’on ne peut plus dire être forcés ou conquis par l’hégémonie américaine, puisque nous la reproduisons spontanément dans nos propres contextes.

NB : Quelles autres initiatives contemporaines en matière de film activiste te semblent les plus marquantes ?

BK : Malheureusement je n’ai pas vu beaucoup de ces films et ne saurais donc pas très bien répondre. Je n’ai pas vu les films réalisés sur les révoltes dans les pays arabes (Égypte, Tunisie). Le groupe Mosireen accomplit un travail intéressant en Égypte, présenté plus dans des contextes d’art contemporain que du cinéma. Souvent, hélas, les films qui émergent des mouvements actuels essaient d’imposer leurs discours sans nuance ni complexité, il n’y existe pas de lieu pour la réflexion, ce qui en définitive m’intéresse le plus. Je pense à certains films qui accompagnent les mouvements anti-globalistes, les Occupy, etc. Beaucoup de réalisateurs se sont intéressés dernièrement aux thèmes politiques mais je trouve que parfois il s’agit d’opportunisme ou d’une manière de rendre lucratif quelque chose qui ne devrait pas l’être. C’est presque devenu un genre. En revanche, je regarde les films courts ou les témoignages filmés des gens en lutte dans des endroits assez oubliés ou peu documentés par ailleurs. Je pense aux vidéos faites par des groupes autonomes de résistance, comme la Police Communautaire par exemple, dans des régions comme Guerrero ou Michoacán au Mexique. Ces documents me semblent très importants car ils ont une fonction dans l’immédiat, qui est de faire sortir les informations et communiquer avec le monde qui reste aveugle à leur situation, et, dans un second temps, de garder ou archiver les témoignages qui plus tard seront nécessaires. Mais en général, je préfère les films sur les politiques de l’image et l’esthétique que sur la politique tout court.

NB : Depuis une dizaine d’années, le monde de l’art réfléchit beaucoup aux traitements des archives documentaires par l’art, ce que Okwui Enwezor avait nommé en 2008 l’“Archive Fever”. Sur ce plan, les travaux de certains artistes et curateurs t’intéressent-ils particulièrement ?

BK : J’aime le travail de Martha Rosler et ses photomontages et celui d’Alfredo Jaar, fascinant. Ces deux artistes très politisés travaillent sur notre regard et notre désir, en plus des sujets qu’ils traitent. Les livres de W.G. Sebald, qui selon moi, ne sont pas seulement de la littérature mais aussi en étroite relation avec le monde de l’art et des archives (fictives ?), m’intéressent aussi beaucoup. La manière dont Sebald parle des origines, d’Histoire, de nos histoires et de notre mémoire, me touche profondément. Au cinéma, Andrei Ujică et son travail infatigable sur la Roumanie, non seulement le film coréalisé avec Harun Farocki en 1992 – Vidéogrammes d’une révolution, qui est un chef d’œuvre – mais aussi le dernier qu’il a réalisé avec les archives personnelles de Ceausescu [L’Autobiographie de Nicolae Ceausescu, 2010 – NdE]. Puis j’aime bien aussi le travail plus ludique mais encore très politisé de Craig Baldwin, dans une tradition proche de René Viénet, car ces films nous permettent de réfléchir sur la fabrication et la manipulation des images, sur notre foi naïve dans ce qu’elles racontent.

 

NB : Aurais-tu un conseil à donner, ou un appel à transmettre, ou une solution pratique à envoyer aux autres cinéastes de par le monde qui se trouvent en situation d’oppression ?

BK : C’est une question à laquelle il est très difficile de répondre car chaque personne vit une situation différente et doit faire face à des défis et dangers différents quand il ou elle travaille. En tout cas, j’ai appris qu’il faut rester honnête avec soi-même, et faire tout son possible dans une situation donnée. L’oppression peut aussi venir de l’intérieur, ou du moins être reproduite en soi-même, par rapport aux pressions vécues à l’extérieur. C’est la seule solution que je vois, de croire en soi et en ses projets et ne pas succomber aux doutes provoqués par l’extérieur. En revanche, nous ne pouvons pas prétendre produire de grands changements en réalisant des films, autrement qu’en exprimant des idées et expériences vécues et contemplées dans leur présent et dans leurs durées. Il faut croire aux projets même contre les forces antagonistes. Je crois qu’il faut aussi écouter sa voix intérieure, ne pas avoir peur de trouver des alliances et créer son propre contexte pour pouvoir s’exprimer tout en faisant face aux obstacles. Chaque contexte et chaque personne change aussi au fil du temps, et il est difficile de savoir comment j’agirais aujourd’hui si je me trouvais dans la même situation qu’en 2009, pendant les élections en Iran. On ne peut pas tout calculer, et encore moins contrôler ce qui se passe autour de nous, mais si nous restons fidèles à nos principes et à une certaine éthique dans nos méthodes, je crois qu’on peut au moins être sûr de ne pas perdre l’essentiel ; notre croyance, notre passion, notre écoute qui nous permettent l’acte créatif et donc combattre l’oppression dans quelque forme que ce soit. Finalement, le silence est toujours pire que de parler et de souffrir des conséquences.

Paris-Mexico, 2013-2015.


* René Parize, « Savoir de soumission ou savoirs de révolte ? L’exemple du Creusot », in Jean Borreil (dir.), Les sauvages dans la cité. Auto-émancipation du peuple et instruction des prolétaires au XIXe siècle, Seyssel, Champ Vallon, 1985, pp. 91-103.

CEM
(2012)

no dialogue / sans dialogue / بدون کلام

 
 
 

Filmed on Super-8 during a demonstration of Kurds in Paris, Cem joins the idea of ​​a collective body.  The "cem" or "jam" in Persian and Kurdish means being together, united; the term also refers to Sufi gatherings, always manifested through dance.

Music: 'Weather' by Andy Moor, from his solo album MARKER (copyright Unsounds – 2007)

 

Filmé en Super-8 lors d’une manifestation de Kurdes à Paris, Cem rejoint l’idée d’un corps collectif. Le « cem » ou « jam » en persan et kurde signifie le fait d’être ensemble, unis ; le terme fait aussi référence aux rassemblements soufis, toujours traversés par la danse.

 

CEM اعتقاد به یک بدن جمعی را با تصویربرداری از تظاهرات کردها در پاریس با دوربین سوپر ۸ ثبت می‌کند. CEM یا "جمع" به زبان کردی و فارسی به معنای با هم بودن و اتحاد است. این کلمه به مراسم صوفیان هم اشاره دارد که همیشه با رقص همراه است.

 
 
 
 

Transit
(2005)

English / فارسی 

 
 
stfr.png

français / فارسی

 
 
 
 
 

On the road to England, Arya, a young Afghan boy, crosses Europe's borders with other exiles. Near Italy he is separated from the group and sent by smugglers towards Paris. In Paris, in a small "transit" room, Arya meets Khorshid, a young girl who has lost her family on the road and who now lives victim to the desires of the smugglers.

Transit is a film about two exiles: a young Afghan man, Arya, and a young Iranian woman, Khorshid, who meet in Paris in a small hotel room while waiting for their trafficker to decide on the day that they will head towards England. With this film I not only want to show the anonymity that is lived by exiles moving illegally across Europe and their quasi-inexistence for society, but also the solidarity that ties these exiles together.  We discover Arya, somewhere in Europe, on the road that will lead him to England.  Other exiles from Iran, from Kurdistan and from Afghanistan are alongside him on this “voyage”. In this story, it is not only important for me to show the obstacles that these voyagers meet on the road to their Eldorado, but also to show the position of these young individuals in terms of their dreams and the reality of their everyday living conditions. The film evokes the determination and the desire on the part of the exiles to take their destiny into their own hands…With this story we witness their wait, their separation from their country but also from their travel companions, and the uncertainty with which they live for tomorrow…The notion of memory, of the past, of the need to erase what has been inflicted on them in order to advance and to survive, but also to exist in this new life of detachment that they have chosen.

Arya, un jeune homme Afghan, traverse l’Europe avec d’autres exilés en route pour l’Angleterre. Près de la frontière italienne, des passeurs le séparent de son groupe et le redirigent vers Paris. Dans une étroite chambre de « transit », il rencontre Khorshid, une jeune femme immigrée devenue orpheline sur le chemin de l’exil, aujourd’hui à la merci des passeurs. 

Transit fait le récit de deux exils : celui d’un jeune afghan, Arya, et celui d’une jeune iranienne, Khorshid, qui se rencontrent à Paris dans une chambre d’hôtel en attendant que leurs passeurs les amènent à la frontière anglaise. J’ai voulu illustrer l’anonymat qu’on impose aux migrant·es qui traversent clandestinement l’Europe, mais aussi la solidarité qui les rassemble. (...) Il s’agissait de montrer les obstacles qu’il et elles rencontrent sur la route de l’Eldorado, leurs espoirs et la réalité de leurs conditions de vie au quotidien. Décidé·es à prendre leur destin en main, les exilé·es se confrontent à l’attente, laissent derrière eux leur famille mais aussi celles et ceux qu’ils ont rencontré·es sur la route. Leur avenir est incertain.  Pour affronter une nouvelle vie marquée par la séparation, les migrant·es doivent composer avec le passé, la mémoire et la nécessité d’oublier les épreuves qu’il a fallu surmonter pour survivre.

در مسیر انگلستان، آریا، پسر جوان افغانستانی، به همراه چند پناهجوی دیگر از مرز‌های اروپا عبور می‌کند. او نزدیک ایتالیا از گروه جدا شده و توسط قاچاقچیان به پاریس فرستاده میشود. آریا با خورشید در یک اتاق کوچک "ترانزیت" در پاریس آشنا میشود. او دختر جوانیست که خانواده اش را در مسیر از دست داده و حالا دستخوش خواسته های قاچاقچیان شده است.

  

 فیلم ترانزیت درباره دو تبعیدی است: پسر جوان افغانستانی، آریا، و دختر جوان ایرانی، خورشید، که در اتاق کوچکی در یک هتل، در حالی که در انتظار قاچاقچیان برای مطلع شدن از تاریخ حرکتشان به سمت انگلستان هستند آشنا می شوند.

من در این فیلم سعی داشتم داستان پناهجویان گمنام و نادیده گرفته شده در اروپا که به طور غیر قانونی جا به جا میشوند، و همچنین همبستگی که بین آنها شکل می‌گیرد را نشان دهم. با آریا در راه اروپا آشنا می شویم، مسیری که بعد او را راهی انگلستان می‌کند. برای من مهم بود که در کنار به تصویر کشیدن چالش‌های مسیری که این پناهجویان برای رسیدن به مقصدشان طی میکنند، به آرزوها و همچنین واقعیات زندگی روزمره این جوانان بپردازم. این فیلم ازم و اراده پناهجویان را برای در تعیین سرنوشت خود نشان میدهد. در این فیلم شاهد انتظار، جدایی از وطن و همچنین همسفرانشان، و شرایط بلاتکلیف امروزشان هستیم … مفهومی از حافظه، از گذشته، نیاز به پاک کردن خاطرات بلاهای که سرشان آماده، تا بتوانند دوام بیاورند و ادامه دهند، و در زندگی جدید و عاری از تعلقی که انتخاب کردند حاضر باشند.

 

Bani Khoshnoudi

MITRA TABRIZIAN

میترا تبریزیان

 

Journey of No Return (1993, 23’)

 
 
 
 

Mitra Tabrizian is an Iranian-British artist and filmmaker. Her critically-acclaimed debut feature Gholam (British/Iranian film, 2018) had a theatrical release in UK. She has collaborated with the Booker Prize Winner, Ben Okri, on a short film/video, 'The Insider' (2018), commissioned by the Coronet Theatre to accompany Albert Camus’ The Outsider, adapted for the stage by Ben Okri.

Her photographic work has been exhibited and published widely and is represented in major international museums and public collections. Solo museum shows include Tate Britain (2008). She has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, (2015), was awarded the Royal Academy’s Rose Award for Photography (2013), and is recipient of the Royal Photographic Society ‘Honorary Fellowship’ (2021) for innovation and contribution to art and photography. Her latest photographic book off screen was published by Kerber Verlag in 2019.

She is currently developing her second feature The Far Mountains with BFI.

 Journey of No return '93.tiff still  lower res .jpg
stfr.png

English / français 

 
 
 

Journey Of No Return
(1993)

 

A woman with ‘no name and no country’ in search of a sense of belonging. Asked to write a script about her own experience, she constructs an ‘autobiography’ which is partly fiction. A photographer – who has never touched a camera. A peep-show girl who has never worked in one. A screenwriter who has never written dialogue.

Meanwhile, her unsent letters to her father echo the questions every migrant is asked: ‘Why are you here?’ and ‘When are you going back?’

The film is a critique of certain aspects of British culture & addresses crises of identity.

Une femme « sans nom et sans pays » cherche sa place dans le monde. Lorsqu’on lui demande d’écrire un scénario sur sa propre vie, elle rédige une « autobiographie » mêlée de fiction. Il y est question d’une photographe, qui n’a jamais touché à un appareil photo. D’une strip-teaseuse, qui n’a jamais travaillé dans une boîte de strip-tease. D’une scénariste n’ayant jamais écrit aucun dialogue.
Parfois, les lettres qu’elle destine à son père mais qu’elle n’envoie jamais semblent poser les questions qu’on pose à chaque immigré·e : « Vous êtes venu·e pourquoi ? » et « Quand est-ce que vous retournez chez vous ? »
Le film est une critique de certains aspects de la culture britannique et une réflexion sur les crises de l’identité.

زنی‌ بی‌ نام و بی‌ وطن در جستجوی احساس تعلق .. از او خواستند که از تجربه‌اش یک فیلمنامه بنویسد اما یک خود زندگی‌ نامه نسبتا تخیلی‌ نوشت. عکاسی که تا به حال عکسی‌ نگرفته، رقصنده‌ای که در هیچ نمایشی شرکت نکرده، فیلمنامه نویسی که تا به حال دیالوگی ننوشته. اما نامه‌های ارسال نشده‌ به پدرش شامل سال‌هایی‌ میشوند که از هر مهاجری پرسیده شده: از کجا آمده‌ای و کی‌ برمیگردی؟

این فیلم نقدیست از برخی‌ جنبه‌های فرهنگ انگلیسی‌ و به بحران هویت اشاره دارد.

 

vlcsnap-2022-12-03-14h42m34s323.png

Journey of no Return 
Gilda Williams

 
 

It is tempting to sum up simplistically the many identity-based themes in Iranian-British Mitra Tabrizian’s early short film Journey of No Return (1993) along the lines of ‘wherever you go, there you are’. The film tells the story of a young woman filmmaker (neither her name nor country of origin are given), recently arrived in Britain, as she encounters this strange new land. While observing British culture through the eyes of an outsider she explores her own inner landscape, to consider the possible unvoiced reasons behind her transplant to the UK. Often her adjustment to Britain is uncomfortable, if not endured as an ordeal, marked by: everyday sexism (she is condescended to by an impatient train conductor and a male stranger whom she accidentally photographs on the street); ghastly food (fish fingers, mash and peas, all smothered in ketchup); the false and euphemistic politeness of the English language (a man uses the phrase ‘sorry, but my hands are tied’ to soften his rejection of her film); and insidious national self-importance (an English teacher explains how to conjugate the verb to be using the ‘randomly chosen’ phrase, ‘I am British’, ‘you are British’, etc.)

The ‘journey’ in the title might seem  a conceptual one: the search for contemporary Britishness, or a journey towards discovering oneself. This journey might be the hunt for meaningful artistic expression, as the protagonist attempts to get her film made with the help of a reluctant English funder. But this journey is also a literal trip, epitomised in the image of our lonely protagonist deposited by train at the tiny station of Frant, in East Sussex, where she will live – in perplexed alienation – with a local family for one long, baffling and boring year. The film begins and ends with slow, emphatic footsteps walking down a corridor, literally approaching the ‘light at the end’ of the tunnel/hallway. Running through Journey of No Return is the theme of an outsider looking from a distance but failing to see: from her native country, our protagonist’s first ‘sight’ of Britain had been a chocolate-box image of Tower Bridge.

‘History is out of fashion, but case histories are not’, remarks the protagonist toward the beginning of Journey of No Return, as she determines to create a semi-autobiographical film. ‘Case history’ can be a medical term for examining symptoms, in order to arrive at diagnosis, and in fact our protagonist’s unspoken questions often seem to follow a diagnostic purpose. What kind of place is Britain? What prompted me to journey to this flawed and unfamiliar place? These are certainly more vital and pressing than the standard set of anaemic questions recited by the dissatisfied film-funder, who asks What is your film’s ‘message’? Who is your audience? There is constantly the sense that things are amiss. ‘You’re in the wrong car!’ admonishes the conductor of the train to Frant, before ushering her from a first- to a second-class carriage. Or, ‘Who are you?’, asked by a creepy over-friendly stranger. “I sometimes ask myself why I am here’, the protagonist wonders, as she probes the reasons behind this solitary venture. Perhaps she sought to escape family, or mother, or motherlessness, or an imposing father? These reasons might partially justify her exodus, but none succeeds fully to explain her elected displacement.

The answer seems finally to arrive in the closing scene. Journey of No Return becomes a hall of mirrors, a film about making the film we are watching, a semi-literal and semi-conceptual voyage to answer the larger question at stake here: what am I searching for? In Tabrizian’s film the search for artistic expression, identity and self-discovery are overlapped in th’s self-reflexive narrative. These concurrent existential pursuits are finally entwined in the protagonist’s abiding and insistent need to be authentically seen and heard.

 

Mitra Tabrizian

SANAZ AZARI

ساناز آذری

 
 
 
 
 

I For Iran (2014, 50’)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
double-2.jpg

Sanaz Azari was born in Isfahan (Iran) in 1981. She grew up and lives in Brussels where, after studying photography, she graduated from the scenography workshop of the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre.

In parallel to her studies, she followed intensive theatre courses for three years according to the Stanislavski method. After working on scenography, urban installations and exhibitions, she directed her first documentary entitled "Salaam Isfahan" which won the Audience Award at the Visions du réel festival in Nyon in 2010.

Sanaz Azari est née à Ispahan (Iran) en 1981. Elle a grandi et vit à Bruxelles où, après des études de photographie, elle fut diplômée de l’atelier de scénographie de l'École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre.

Parallèlement à ses études, elle a suivi, pendant trois ans, des cours intensifs de théâtre selon la méthode de Stanislavski. Après différents travaux de scénographies, d’installations urbaines et expositions, elle réalise en 2010 son premier documentaire intitulé « Salaam Isfahan » qui remporte le Prix du public au festival Visions du réel à Nyon.

 
 

I For Iran
I comme Iran
(2014)

English / Français

 

During language classes the director is not only taught basic Persian by her teacher, he also opens the gates to Iranian history and culture. Gradually, the lessons morph into a poetic, visual collage that questions the term freedom and the meaning of revolution.

En classe, la professeure de Perse ne fait pas qu’enseigner les rudiments d’une langue, mais ouvre au réalisateur les portes de l’histoire et de la culture iranienne. Peu à peu, son cours se transforme en collage poétique et visuel qui interroge les sens des mots « liberté » et « révolution ».

stfr.png

I For Iran/I comme Iran
by/de
Laurent de Sutter

English / Français

 

A man stands in front of a black board. A middle-aged man, curls of long grey hair fringing his bald spot, with a penetrating gaze – the gaze of someone who has seen things, experienced things, knows things. He speaks a strange language, a language that spins like a dancing dervish. He speaks it with the slightly solemn delight of a teacher and he is a teacher, teaching a young woman – of whom we see nothing but the hands and hear nothing but the voice – how to read and write in Persian, her mother tongue.

He teaches her using an object he is not in the habit of using, an object that troubles him: an old textbook, dating from the period before the Iranian Revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979. The pages of this manual are falling apart and, like all manuals of this kind, it tries to deconstruct the world around it into elementary syllables and naïve illustrations.

The teacher explains to the young woman how to trace letters, syllables and words, and she applies herself to learning them, getting her hand to know them, as she listens to the teacher’s words. He cannot help drifting towards what the letters say about the present, about the past, and about the Revolution. For a manual is never just a manual: it is the embodiment of a point of view, the depository of the power that this point of view wishes to impose on those forced to follow its teaching; it is what charges the language with this power.

To show this charge, a radical set–up is required, that is to say that the image must show only this manual and the black board, and the respective words of the teacher and the pupil. One must become the pupil in order to be able to hear, in the movement of the teacher’s words as he deciphers the discreet orders of the manual, the unfolding of its most unexpected meanings: its ideological truth.

Sanaz Azari’s film, I For Iran, is a ruthless film, a film that shows only the flat surface of the black board on which the teacher traces chalk letters, and the flat surface of the manual and the illustrations contained within it. Between the two, there is also the flat surface of the notebook in which the young woman writes her lessons. And then there are bad quality images, taken from the Internet, which cause interference in this succession of flat surfaces. I For Iran is a film with no depth of field, because the black board and the manual provide all the depth that is available for the truth deployed in the teaching, here and now, of the Persian language: the depth of that which is clogged. The teacher lived through the Revolution, was an activist for it, but no longer believes in it. The young woman did not live through the Revolution and doesn’t have much experience of her country, though, without saying as much, she still believes in it – as witnessed by the simple act of taking the language into her body. In a way, I For Iran is a film without perspective, without the naivety that would be involved in offering perspectives, suggesting lines of convergence, designating, in the distance, a point that could at last redeem the contemporary condition of the children of Iran.

But because it is without perspective, and because it gives what it has to give solely in the space separating a black board from a classroom, Sanaz Azari’s film suggests much more: it suggests a slide, a radical irreconciliation between images and words, a gap whose power of suggestion exceeds that of any programme, be it political or aesthetic. Perhaps one could even say that I For Iran is a film about the irreconciliation at the heart of any language, which also lies at the heart of any image and at the heart of the relationship between any image and the spoken.

But this irreconciliation has nothing dreadful or tragic about it. On the contrary, I For Iran is a film whose radicalism lies above all in its delicacy, the delicacy of the sounds of the Persian language, the delicacy of the outdated illustrations, the delicacy of the poetry of Hafez or Forough, the delicacy of the hand of the young woman and her softly hoarse voice, the delicacy of the gaps that Sanaz Azari introduces between the words, the sounds, the images and the spaces. It is a film about the delicacy resisting all tyrannies, about fragile images resisting all censorship – and, against the stupidity and violence of the latter, it plays off the ineffable softness of memory, meditation and the intelligence of words when, as here, they manage to be shown.

C’est un homme debout devant un tableau noir. Un homme entre deux âges, aux boucles de longs cheveux gris entourant une calvitie, au regard pénétrant – le regard de celui qui a vu, qui a vécu et qui sait.

Il parle une langue étrange, dont la musique tournoie comme la danse d’un derviche ; il la parle avec la gourmandise un peu solennelle du professeur. Car il est un professeur. Il enseigne à une jeune femme, dont on ne verra que les mains, et dont on n’entendra que la voix, la lecture et l’écriture du persan – langue maternelle de la jeune femme, qu’elle ne sait ni lire, ni écrire.

Il la lui enseigne, mais à partir d’un objet dont il n’a pas l’habitude, et qui le trouble : un vieux manuel, datant de l’époque suivant la Révolution iranienne de 1979, ayant porté l’ayatollah Khomeini au pouvoir. C’est un manuel dont les pages se défont, et qui, comme tous les manuels, tentait de décomposer le monde qui l’entourait en syllabes élémentaires et en illustrations naïves.

Le professeur explique à la jeune femme comme tracer les lettres, les syllabes et les mots – et celle-ci s’applique à les apprendre, à les faire rentrer dans sa main, tout en écoutant la parole du maître, qui ne cesse de dériver vers ce que ces lettres disent du présent, du passé et de la Révolution. Car un manuel n’est jamais qu’un manuel : il est l’incarnation d’un regard, le dépôt de la puissance que ce regard souhaite imposer à ceux qui sont forcés d’en suivre l’enseignement ; il est ce qui charge la langue de cette puissance.

Pour montrer cette charge, il fallait un dispositif radical – c’est-à-dire qu’il fallait ne rien voir d’autre que ce manuel, le tableau noir, et puis les paroles respectives du professeur et de l’élève. Il fallait devenir l’élève pour pouvoir écouter, dans le mouvement de la parole du maître déchiffrant les ordres discrets du manuel, le dépli de ses significations les plus inattendues – disons : sa vérité idéologique.

Le film de Sanaz Azari, I comme Iran, est donc un film impitoyable : un film qui ne montre que l’aplat du tableau noir sur lequel le maître trace des lettres à la craie ; et l’aplat de la page du manuel, ainsi que des illustrations que celui-ci met en scène. Entre les deux, il y a aussi l’aplat du cahier d’exercice sur lequel s’applique la jeune femme – et puis des images de mauvaise qualité, tirées d’Internet, et qui viennent parasiter la succession des aplats. I comme Iran est un film sans profondeur de champ, parce que le tableau noir et le manuel procurent toute la profondeur qu’il y a à procurer à la vérité se déployant dans l’enseignement, ici et maintenant, de la langue persane: la profondeur du bouché. Le professeur a connu la Révolution et a milité pour elle, mais il n’y croit plus ; la jeune femme n’a pas connu la Révolution et a peu connu son pays, mais elle y croit encore, sans le dire – du simple geste de faire entrer sa langue dans son corps. En quelque sorte, I comme Iran est un film sans perspective – c’est-à-dire : sans la naïveté qu’il y aurait à offrir des perspectives, à proposer des lignes de fuite, à désigner, dans le lointain, un point qui pourrait enfin rédimer la condition contemporaine des enfants de l’Iran.

Mais, parce qu’il est sans perspective, et parce qu’il ne donne ce qu’il a à donner que dans l’espace séparant un tableau noir d’une salle de classe, le film de Sanaz Azari suggère bien davantage : il suggère un glissé, une irréconciliation radicale des images et des mots – un décalage dont la puissance de suggestion excède celle de tout programme, que celui-ci soit politique ou esthétique. Peut-être même pourrait-on dire de I comme Iran qu’il est le film de l’irréconciliation gisant au cœur de toute langue, comme elle gît aussi au cœur de toute image, et au cœur de la relation que toute image entretient avec la parole.

Une telle irréconciliation, pourtant, n’a rien de terrible, ni de tragique. Au contraire : I comme Iran est un film dont la radicalité est avant tout celle de sa délicatesse – délicatesse des sons de la langue persane, délicatesse des illustrations surannées, délicatesse de la poésie de Hafez ou de Forough, délicatesse de la main de la jeune femme et de sa voix doucement brisée, délicatesse des écarts que Sanaz Azari introduit entre les mots, les sons, les images, et les espaces. Il est le film de la délicatesse résistant à toutes les tyrannies, des images fragiles résistant à toute censure – et jouant, contre la bêtise et la violence de celle-ci, l’ineffable douceur du souvenir, de la méditation, et de l’intelligence des mots lorsque, comme ici, ils parviennent à être montrés.

Sanaz Azari

Tara Najd Ahmadi
تارا نجداحمدی

 
 
 
portrait-tara-najdahmadi (1).jpg

A Week with Azar (2018, 11’)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Born in Tehran and currently based in Vienna, Tara Najd Ahmadi is a non-fiction filmmaker and scholar. Her films focus on creating a panorama of marginalized narratives that can be gleaned through unofficial oral histories. In that space, she is interested in the ways in which thinking and resisting subjects act against power structures and deal with its unagreeable outcomes. Her works have been shown internationally in various film festivals and art venues including International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and Burchfield Penney Art Museum. Her texts on the contemporary art, and film history of Iran have been published in anthology books and academic journals such as Frontiers; A Journal of Women Studies. In 2019 she received her doctorate degree in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester (NY), where she investigated the notions of “incomplete and unfinished” in art projects and films that were made during revolutionary times. Najd Ahmadi is also the recipient of the George Eastman Museum graduate fellowship (2016-2018), the New York State Council on the Arts Media Arts Assistance Fund (2017), Flaherty Film Seminar fellowship (2017) and Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (2018).

تارا نجداحمدی محقق و فیلمسازغیرداستانی متولد تهران است. محور تمرکز فیلمهای او روایتهای به حاشیه رانده شده، غیررسمی وتاریخ شفاهیند. در این بستر او به راه های مقاومت افراد در برابر ساختارهای قدرت و روایت گری پیچیدگی ها، تناقض انتخاب ها و شکستهایشان میپردازد. کارهای او در موزه ها و فستیوالهای بین المللی مختلفی همچون موزه بورچفیلد پنی و فستیوال فیلم کوتاه اوبرهاوزن به نمایش در آمده اند. همچنین نوشته های او در ژورنالها و کتابهای مختلفی همچون ژورنال مطالعت زنان فرانتیر منتشر شده اند. او در پاییز 2019  دکترایش را در رشته مطالعات فرهنگی هنری دانشگاه روچستر با تحقیق روی "آثار هنری و سینمایی که در طول دوره های انقلابی ناتمام رها میشوند" گرفت.

A Week with Azar

(2018)

 

A Week with Azar is a short experimental documentary, based on a true story of Azar, an Iranian computer engineer living in the United States, who in the winter of 2017 failed to see her ill sister in Isfahan (Iran) for the last time because of the Executive Order 13769, commonly known as the travel ban. According to this ban, the nationals of seven countries, including Iran, could not enter the USA. 

A Week with Azar est un court métrage documentaire expérimental, basé sur l'histoire vraie d'Azar, un ingénieur informatique iranien vivant aux États-Unis, qui, à l'hiver 2017, n'a pas réussi à voir sa sœur malade à Ispahan (Iran) pour la dernière fois à cause de l'Executive Order 13769, communément appelé l'interdiction de voyager. En vertu de cette interdiction, les ressortissants de sept pays, dont l'Iran, ne pouvaient pas entrer aux États-Unis.

یک هفته با آذر فیلم مستند کوتاهی است که به داستان یک‌ مهندس کامپیوتر به نام آذر میپردازد.‌ در سال ۲۰۱۷ درحالیکه که آذر ساکن آمریکا بود، امکان ملاقات با خواهر بیمارش را از دست داد چون بر اساس قانون فوریتی جدید "منع سفر" حق مسافرت‌ آزادانه از او گرفته شد.‌ بر اساس این‌ قانون، مهاجران هفت کشور از جمله ایران، امکان‌ ورود به آمریکا را برای مدت نامشخصی از دست دادند.

English / français / فارسی

 
 
 
 
 

At a certain point in A Week with Azar it is said one should pay attention to the details of the story. This is good advice since Tara Najd Ahmadi's short film depends on the nuances of how the political can suddenly intrude on the personal. On January 27, 2017 Donald Trump initiated his first travel ban against seven Muslim majority countries. Among those individuals affected was Iranian-born Azar, the young woman at the centre of Najd Ahmadi's film. She was no longer able to leave the country to visit her terminally ill sister.

Najd Ahmadi's film treats the effects of Trump's decision in the form of a poetic diary, combining strategies of the photographic novel, documentary film and the essay film. It articulates the contradictions of migration by maintaining a subjective perspective. The images are mainly associative, and unlike the hero of the film, they transcend space and boundaries. At one point, an extended tracking shot over grass leads to a monument.

But it is also important how Azar gives expression to her fought-for independence. She crafts a papier-mâché head as tall as a man to express her fury. Ahmadi's editing utilises various tempos. The materials she uses for her images change, leading also to " the other side", to sandstorms in Iran. The filmmaker likewise allows thoughts to wander, to linger on certain images, as in the case with a woman who almost magically balances on a rope.

As she questions off-screen whether immigration really was a step forward, it is perhaps the image of ocean that leaves the longest lasting impression. This is not a simple question. Ahmadi finds an apt image in the surf breaking back in the reverse direction to represent the complicated matter of freedom in these times. — Dominik Kamalzadeh

À un moment donné dans A Week with Azar, un personnage rappelle qu’il faut prêter attention aux détails de l’histoire. C’est un bon conseil, dans la mesure où le court-métrage de Tara Nadj Ahmadi repose précisément sur l’introduction soudaine du politique dans l’intimité. Le 27 janvier 2017, Donald Trump signe le premier décret qui interdit de séjour aux États-Unis les ressortissant·es de sept pays à majorité musulmane. Azar, la jeune femme d’origine iranienne au centre du film de Nadj Admadi, en fait partie, le décret l’empêchant désormais de rendre visite à sa soeur mourrante en Iran. 

Le film de NadjAhmadi montre les conséquences de la décision de Trump sous la forme d’un journal poétique, en empruntant à différentes stratégies : roman-photo, documentaire, film-essai. C’est cette perspective subjective qui permet de saisir tous les paradoxes de la migration. Les images se suivent principalement par association libre, et transcendent l’immobilisation forcée de l’héroïne dans un espace et un territoire particulier ; comme ce long travelling sur l’herbe qui mène soudainement à un monument. 

Il faut aussi remarquer la manière dont Azar donne une forme à son indépendance conquise de haute lutte. Elle sculpte une grande tête en papier-mâché à qui dire toute sa colère. Le montage de Nadj Ahmadi suit plusieurs rythmes. Ses matériaux visuels varient, et montrent aussi des images de « l’autre côté », comme les tempêtes de sable en Iran. À d’autres moment, elle permet aux spectateur·ices de s’attarder sur certaines images, de divaguer, comme dans cette scène onirique où une femme se tient en équilibre sur une corde. 

Tandis qu’Azar se demande en voix off ce qu’elle a vraiment gagné en immigrant, c’est peut-être l’image de l’océan qui laisse l’impression la plus marquante. Il n’y a pas de réponse simple à cette question. Avec le plan des vagues se brisant sur la côte et repartant dans la direction opposée, Ahmani a trouvé une image à même de symboliser le difficile accès à la liberté dans les temps présents —Dominik Kamalzadeh

در جایی از " یک هفته با آذر" گفته میشود درین روایت این جیزئیاتند که تعیین کننده اند و باید به آنها توجه شود. این توصیه درستی است چون فیلم کوتاه تارا نجداحمدی با تکیه به این جزئیات نشان میدهد چطور امر سیاسی میتواند زندگی شخصی را تحت تاثیر قرار دهد. در بیست و هفت ژانویه دوهزارو هفده دونالد ترامپ طرح ممنوعیت مسافرتی ساکنین هفت کشور عموما مسلمان به آمریکا را تصویب کرد. یکی از افرادی که زندگیش تحت تاثیر این قانون جدید دستخوش تغییر شد آذر، زن ایرانی جوانی بود که فیلم احمدی حول او میچرخد. در واقع بعد ازین اتفاق آذر نتوانست کشور را به قصد دیدار خواهر بیمارش ترک کند.

در فیلم احمدی دستورترامپ با استفاده از تکنیک هایی مثل عکاسی، سینمای مستند وروایتگری تحقیقی تبدیل به یادداشتی شاعرانه شده است. یک هفته با آذر، به تناقضات مهاجرت از زاویه اول شخص نگاه کرده و تصاویری میآفریند که در کنار هم کلاژ شده اند و برخلاف قهرمان فیلم میتوانند از فضاها و مرزهای مختلف عبور کنند. مثلا در جایی از فیلم (به واسطه مونتاژ) یک نمای طولانی از درختان به یک تندیس ختم میشود.

ولی مهم است به این فکر کرد که آذر چطور این جنگ برای استقلال را روایت میکند؛ او برای بیان خشمش یک سرعروسکی پاپیه ماشه هم قد خودش درست میکند. ادیت احمدی در طول فیلم سرعت و ریتمهای متفاوتی میگیرد، همانطور که جنس فیلمهایی که برای ادیت استفاده میکند نیز متفاوتند، مثل آنجا که نماهایی از طوفان شن "آنسوی دیگردنیا" را نمایش میدهند. فیلمساز هم به همین طریق به تماشاگر فرصت تفکر سیال میدهد، به او فرصت میدهد تا نگاهش روی بعضی تصاویر معلق شود، درست همانطور که در فیلم زنی به شکل جادویی روی طناب معلق میشود.

وقتی راوی از پشت دوربین میپرسد آیا این مهاجرت قدمی رو به جلو بود به یادماندنی ترین تصویر فیلم آفریده میشود. این پرسشی ساده نیست. احمدی برای پرسیدن این سوال تصویر مناسبی را پیدا میکند؛ موجی که برعکس حرکت میکند تا پیچیدگی ها مفهوم آزادی در دوران ما رو به نمایش درآورد.

Tara Najd Ahmadi

NAHID REZAEI

ناهید رضایی

 
 
 
 
 
 

Dream of Silk (2003, 43’)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Nahid Rezaei, born in 1963 in Tehran, is an filmmaker and producer.

She studied cinematography at Paris VIII University and now lives in Tehran.

Since her return in Iran, she has been working as a documentary filmmaker and producer in several films, and also co-operated with other filmmakers. Rezaei is part of the first association of the documentary filmmakers in Iran, which is an independent organization. She was the director of Iranian Documentary Filmmakers’ association in 2004.

Dream of Silk
Rêve de soie
English / Français

 

In Dream of Silk, director Nahid Rezai returns to her all-girls high school twenty-five years later to explore the lives of young girls in contemporary Tehran. In this candid exploration of their dreams and hopes, the girls are at times shockingly open, often sweet, and occasionally sad as they talk about the future.

Dans Rêve de soie, Nahid Rezai retourne dans le lycée qu’elle fréquentait il y a vingt-cinq ans pour interroger les jeunes téhéranaises d’aujourd’hui. Dans cet inventaire bienveillant de leurs rêves et de leurs espoirs, les lycéennes se montrent parfois étonnamment directes, souvent très accessibles et, par endroits, plus mélancoliques lorsqu’elles parlent de leur avenir. 

در "خواب ابریشم" کارگردان ناهید رضایی، بعد از ۲۵ سال، برای کنکاش در زندگی‌ جوانان تهران امروز، به دبیرستان دخترانه ای که در آن درس خنده باز میگردد. دختران در این مواجهه بی‌ پرده با امیدها و آرزوهایشان، به طرز شگفت انگیزی نوگرا، دوست داشتنی، و گاهی‌ درباره آینده غمگین هستند. 

 فارسی / English

 
 
 

 فارسی / français

 
 
 
 

Artist's Statement
English / Français / فارسی

 
 
 

I made this film about high school girls precisely twenty years ago. I went back to the high school where I'd studied, and asked the young girls about their desires and dreams, and where they could see themselves in twenty years' time.

Two decades later, I hear the voice of the girls from my homeland again, as they fight for life and freedom, and have the entire world echoing their voices. I believe their numerous demands do not only belong to the women of their generation or the ones of twenty years ago, but also to their mothers, grandmothers, and generations before them who lived in this country.

What remains clear is the increasing fearlessness of the women and girls through the years. Women who were gradually made aware of the limitations imposed on them by exposure to a bigger world through the internet, ran out of patience and began speaking up. Their audacity and their ability to voice their needs was astonishing even twenty years ago. They are not only courageous, they are also incredibly aware of their situations, and have insightful political, sociological and philosophical analysis to share.

The girls in this film are now the mothers of the strong-willed youth that are fighting for their dreams and leading this movement. At the end of this film I wrote “I hope for the happiness of the students in twenty years” and today I am more hopeful than ever to finally witness the happiness of the girls and women of my homeland.

 

J'ai fait ce film sur des lycéennes il y a exactement vingt ans. J'étais retournée au lycée où j'avais étudié pour interroger de jeunes étudiantes sur leurs envies, leurs rêves, et où elles s'imaginaient dans vingt ans.

Aujourd'hui, après vingt ans, j'entends à nouveau la voix des filles de mon pays, alors qu'elles se battent pour la vie et la liberté, et que le monde entier fait écho à leur voix. Je crois que leurs nombreuses revendications n'appartiennent pas seulement aux femmes de leur génération ou de celles d'il y a vingt ans, mais aussi à leurs mères, grands-mères et générations bien avant elles qui ont vécu dans ce pays.

Ce qui est clair, c'est l'intrépidité croissante des femmes et des filles au fil des ans. Les femmes, qui ont été progressivement informées des limites imposées sur elles tout en découvrant l'immensité du monde grâce à Internet, ont perdu patience et ont commencé à réclamer leurs droits. Leur audace et leur capacité à exprimer leurs besoins m'ont étonnée même il y a vingt ans. Elles ne sont pas seulement courageuses, elles sont aussi incroyablement conscientes de leur situation et ont des analyses politiques, sociologiques et philosophiques perspicaces à partager.

Les filles de ce film sont maintenant les mères de ces jeunes femmes courageuses qui se battent, en première ligne de ce mouvement, pour leurs rêves. À la fin de ce film j'ai écrit : «Je souhaite le bonheur des élèves dans vingt ans» et aujourd'hui, plus que jamais, j'ai l'espoir d'être enfin témoin du bonheur des filles et des femmes de mon pays.

خواب ابریشم

من این فیلم را درست بیست سال پیش در باره دختران جوان دبیرستانی ساختم.به مدرسه ای که در آن درس خوانده بودم رفتم و از دختران جوان پرسیدم چه خواسته هایی دارند وآرزوهایشان چیست و چه تصوری از خودشان در بیست سال بعد دارند.

امروز که بعد از بیست سال دوباره  صدای دختران سرزمینم را می شنوم که طلب زندگی و آزادیمی کنند و جهانی را با خود هم صدا کرده اند فکر می کنم این انباشت مطالبات و خواسته ها نه فقط  متعلق بهدختران این نسل یا بیست سال قبل که متعلق به مادر ها و مادر بزرگ ها و نسل های گذشته این سرزمین هم هست.  

آنچه اما  مسلم است جسارت روز افزون زنان و دختران ما در طی این سال هاست.زنانی که به تدریج و در مواجه با جهان گسترده ای که از طریق فضاهای مجازی برایشان باز شد دیگر محدودیت های اعمال شده بر خودشان را تاب نیاوردند و کم کم شروع به ابراز وجود کردند.

جسارت و توان آن ها در بیان خواسته هایشان حتی در بیست سال پیش شگفت انگیز است.

آن ها فقط جسور نیستند به شرایطشان آگاه هستند و تحلیل ها ی در خشانی در باره مسایل سیاسی ،اجتماعی و فلسفی دارند .

 دختران آن فیلم مادرهای این نسل مبارز و پر شوری هستند که به برای رسیدن به آرزوهایشان جنبش امروز ایران را سردمداری می کنند.

در پایان آن فیلم نوشته بودم با "آرزوی شادی برای دانش آموزان بیست سال بعد"

امروز  بیش از همیشه امید دارم  زنان و دختران سرزمینم را شاد ببینم.

Nahid Rezaei

NIKI KOHANDEL

نیکی کهندل

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Sparrow is Free (2021, 14’)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Niki Kohandel.jpeg

Niki Kohandel (b. 2000, Paris) is an artist and filmmaker, in her final year of undergraduate studies at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Working at the interplay between the analogue and the digital, she uses obsolete recording devices and her imperfect knowledge of languages to document stories and re-narrate her family's tales.

In October 2021, together with Sanam Monteiro and Massi Safa, she founded Shahre Farang, a collective supporting children who have newly arrived in the UK through multi-disciplinary story-telling sessions that involve drawing, writing, theatre and play. Her films have been shown in group screenings and exhibitions, at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and more recently at the Pollock’s Toy Museum in London.

Her two last documentary shorts were included in programmes as part of Open City Documentary Festival, Istanbul Documentary Days, London Short Film Festival and Aesthetica Short Film Festival amongst others.

The Sparrow is Free
(2021)

 
 
 

In an empty house, a young woman hears a voice. The tales it recalls lead her to recreate scenes from her grandmother’s past. Kohandel's short film, composed around an interview with her grandmother, explores gender roles in early 20th-century Iran through a series of domestic objects. As she voices her own story, the film weaves her experiences together into a broader narrative of self-determination. As a young girl, her grandmother’s marriage to her older cousin led to years of control and frustration. Rebelling against her husband, she eventually relocated to France with her sons, building a new life and carved out her independence in Paris, finding comfort in the everyday. A simple kind of happiness follows. The sparrow is free.

Une jeune femme est à l’écoute de ce qu’une voix lui raconte dans une maison déserte, et décide de reconstituer des scènes du passé de sa grand-mère.
À partir de quelques objets trouvés chez elle, Niki Kohandel examine dans ce court entretien filmé les rôles genrés dans l’Iran du début du XXè siècle. Après des années de frustration sous le contrôle d’un cousin plus âgé, auquel elle fut mariée lorsqu’elle était adolescente, sa grand-mère se rebelle contre son époux. Elle quitte l’Iran pour la France avec ses deux fils, et refait sa vie. Au rythme de sa voix, chaque souvenir évoqué par le film constitue les étapes successives d’un processus d’émancipation. À Paris, elle accède à l'indépendance et profite de son quotidien. Un bonheur simple émerge, le moineau est libre.

از مصاحبه فیلمساز نیکی کهندل با مادربزرگ خود، شرایط زنان ایرانی در اوائل قرن بیستم را میتوان لمس کرد. در هفده سالگی ، این دختر نوجوان مجبور به ازدواج با پسر عمه خود می‌شود. همسری که سالیان سال او را زیر سلطه خود قرار میدهد و سرانجام ، این پیوند را به ناکامی و طلاق می کشاند. در نهایت ، برای فرار از این موقعیت و به امید ساختن زندگی جدید ، به همراه دو فرزندش ، تصمیم مهاجرت به فرانسه را می‌گیرد. با شنیدن داستانهای گوناگونش ، پی می بریم که چگونه می‌توان با تصمیم و انتخابی تازه ، فصلی جدید در زندگی خود را آغاز کنیم. در پاریس ، آن خوشبختی ساده ای که همواره در جستجویش بود را پیدا می کنند. گنجشک آزاد است

stfr.png

 فارسی / English / français

 
 
 

Artist's Statement

English / Français / فارسی

 
 

A visit to my grandmother in 2019. I vaguely remember going with the intention of recording her voice. Maman bozorg Pari, "grandmother Pari" as I call her, has throughout the years, mastered the art of telling me the same stories again and again, while making them seem new on every telling. The stories I recorded that day in her garden, and which I turned into a film two years later, were in fact very different from the ones I had always heard. And yet, these stories are a song that is known, not only by her, but by many sparrows. 

 

These stories are from a past that seeps into the present. 

These stories are a testament that refuses nostalgic idealisations of an era before the 1979 revolution. 

These stories are proof that freedom granted only to a few is no more than a delusion: an exchange currency for the many faces of the setangar, the oppressor, whether these be the monarchs and despots who have been leading our governments, or those who are part of our homes, in the form of abusive relatives. 

 

These stories are a call to break all the cages. 

These stories are part of a map, on which today’s sparrows trace their own flight. 

 

These stories are for all the sparrows who are told not to sing, 

These stories are for every sparrow who is not afraid 

To ‘fall into the pool of paint’.

Tout a commencé lors d’une visite à ma grand-mère, un jour en mai 2019. Je me souviens vaguement de l’intention que j’avais: celle d’enregistrer sa voix. Au fil des années, sans que jamais je ne m’en lasse, maman bozorg Pari m'a toujours répété les mêmes contes de son enfance. Mais les histoires enregistrées ce jour-là dans son jardin étaient très différentes de celles que j’avais toujours entendues. Ces histoires, que je raconterai deux ans plus tard en réalisant 'The Sparrow is Free', sont une chanson que connaissent beaucoup d’autres moineaux. 

 

Ces histoires viennent d’un passé qui, goutte par goutte, s’infiltre dans notre présent. 

Ces histoires refusent de s’abandonner à la nostalgie de l’époque pré-révolutionnaire, elles refusent d’idéaliser cette période avant 1979. 

Ces histoires parlent de la liberté et de ses illusions: lorsqu'elle n’est accordée qu’à certains, devenant gage d’une alliance avec les oppresseurs

Qu’importe d’où et comment ils attaquent: depuis l’intimité de nos maisons, avec l’impunité des monarques et despotes de nos gouvernements. 

 

Ces histoires sont un appel à la destruction de toutes les cages.

Ces histoires sont une carte sur laquelle les moineaux d’aujourd’hui tracent leur envol. 

 

Ces histoires sont pour tous les moineaux à qui l'on demande de se taire;

Ces histoires sont pour chaque moineau qui, des menaces faisant guère

 

Ne craint pas de tomber dans le bassin, débordant de toutes les couleurs.

 

سال ۱۳۹۹ بود ، به دیدار مادر بزرگم رفته بودم. دلم می خواست که صدایش را ضبط کنم. مامان بزرگ پری هر داستانی که بلد است و تعریف کرده است را می تواند جوری نقل کند که جدید به نظر برسد. داستان‌هایی که آن روز در باغش برایم گفت خیلی فرق داشتند : داستان هایی که تا آن روز ناشنیده مانده بودند. در این حال، داستان هایی بودند که بسیاری از گنجشک‌ها آنها را می شناسند . 

 

این داستان ها از گذشته ای بودند که تا زمان حال ادامه می یافت. 

این داستان‌ها مستند هستند اما بیانگر دلتنگی دوران قبل از انقلاب ۱۳۵۷  نیستند.

این داستان‌ها نشانه‌ای هستند، که تا  آزادی برای همه نباشد  ، وهمی بیش نیست ؛  اسلحه ای است در دست ستمگرها ، چه در خانه ها ، چه در حکومت‌ها . 

این داستان‌ها دعوتی هستند برای شکستن تک تک قفس ها.

این داستان‌ها نقطه ای هستند بر روی نقشه ای، که بر آن گنجشکهای زمان ما پروازشان را ثبت خواهند کرد.

 

این داستان‌ها برای تمام گنجشک هایی هستند که از خواندن منع می‌شوند.

این داستان‌ها برای تمام گنجشک های هستند

که از افتادن توی حوض نقاشی نمی ترسند.

 
Niki Kohandel

SEPIDEH FARSI

سپیده فارسی

 
 
 
 
 

Letter to an Unborn Child  (1988/2015, 3’)

Harat (2007, 75’) ​

 
PHOTO-2022-12-02-13-50-46.jpg

Born in Tehran, Sepideh Farsi moved to Paris to study mathematics, but soon drifted towards cinema. After some short films, her documentary Homi Sethna, Filmmaker won several awards. Followed by Harat and Tehran Without Permission, that both premiered in Locarno. Her first two features Dreams Of Dust  and The Gaze premiered in Rotterdam film festival. She then directed The House Under The Water (Fipresci prize in Moscow IFF), followed by Red Rose, premiere in Toronto film festival 2014, followed by Despo, Labros, Spyridoula and Papandreou. Her last documentary 7 Veils won the Grand Prix of the French Competition in FID Marseille festival (2017). In 2019, she shot I Will Cross Tomorrow in Greece. Her latest film The Siren, an animation feature, is in the final stages of post-production.

Letter to an Unborn Child

(1988/2018)

 
 
 

The film is a well dug into the past. Made with bits of an unfinished film, "Red Shoes,” which was to be my very first auto-produced short film, but that remained “unborn” due to lack of money. What links the 16 mm footage that is the body of the present film, the poem that represents the heart of it, and the finished opus Letter to an Unborn Child represents close to thirty years of my life. —Sepideh Farsi

Ce film ouvre une brèche vers le passé. Je l’ai monté en réutilisant des morceaux d’un film inachevé (mon tout premier court-métrage auto-produit, "Red Shoes", qui n’a jamais vu le jour faute de financement). Entre les scènes tournées en 16 mm qui donnent son armature au présent film, le poème qui en est le cœur, et le résultat final qu’est Letter to an Unborn Child, ce sont près de trois décennies de vie qui sont ainsi rassemblées. —Sepideh Farsi

این فیلم دریچه‌ای به گذشته است که از بخش‌هایی‌ از فیلم "کفش‌های قرمز" تشکیل شده، اولین فیلم کوتاهی که خودم تهیه کردنش را به عهده گرفتم، و به دلیل کمبود بودجه، هیچ وقت تمام نشد. چیزی که این تصاویر ۱۶ میلی‌ متری‌ را که بدنه فیلم است، با شعری که در راس آن قرار گرفته، و اثر "نامه به کودکی که به دنیا نیامد" به هم متصل می‌کند، شرحی از نزدیک به سی‌ سال زندگی‌ من است. 

stfr.png

Harat (2007)

 
 
 
 

Sepideh and Darya. Mother and daughter. A successful young filmmaker and a child with clear ideas about how to make a film. Together they make a long journey to meet members of their large family: From Paris to Tehran and further beyond the Afghanistan border. By air, train, car, they never leave the tools of their trade: two video cameras, one of which is so small that it goes by unseen. On the way, they encounter landscapes, villages, voices and faces, too long separated by distance or disparate destinies. Travel time, story time: at night, Sepideh transforms their story into a bedtime lullaby for her daughter. The complex ramifications of a genealogical tree are gathered in a subtle family album.


Sepideh et Darya. Mère et fille. Une cinéaste accomplie et une enfant aux idées bien arrêtées sur la façon de faire un film. Toutes les deux se lancent dans un long périple pour rendre visite à leur famille élargie, de Paris à Téhéran jusqu’à la frontière afghane. Dans l’avion, dans le train, dans la voiture, elles ne quittent jamais leurs outils de travail, deux caméras vidéo dont l’une est assez petite pour ne pas se faire remarquer. Sur la route, elles croisent des paysages, des villages, des voix, des visages, que la distance ou des vies différentes ont séparé depuis trop longtemps. Il y a le temps du voyage, et le temps du récit : chaque soir, Sepideh chante une berceuse à sa fille qui raconte leur voyage. En forme d’album de famille, le film rassemble les ramifications complexes de tout un arbre généalogique. 

سپیده و دریا. مادر و دختر. یک فیلمساز موفق و بچه‌ای که از فیلم ساختن حسابی‌ سر در میاورد. با هم برای دیدن خانواده شان راهی‌ سفر طولانی از پاریس به تهران و فراتر از مرز‌های افغانستان میشوند. در هواپیما، قطار و ماشین، هرگز از دو دوربینشان که ابزار کارشان است دور نمیشوند. یکی‌ از آن‌ها تا حدی کوچک است که دیده نمی‌شود. در مسیرشان با مناظر، دهکده ها، صداها و چهره‌هایی‌ آشنا میشوند، با فاصله و سرنوشت‌های دور از هم. وقت سفر وقت داستان سراییست. هر شب، سپیده داستانشان را به یک لالایی برای دخترش تبدیل می‌کند. شاخ و برگ در هم تنیده شجره نامه خانواده‌شان در یک آلبوم ظریفانه جمع آوری شده است.

Sepideh Farsi

GELARE KHOSHGOZARAN

گلاره خوشگذران

 
 

Royal Debris (2022, 35’)

Men of my Dreams (2020, 9’)

rial and tERROR (2011, 15’) ​

 
Gelare6_cropped_small_600.jpg

Gelare Khoshgozaran is an undisciplinary artist and writer whose work engages with the legacies of imperial violence. She uses film and video to explore narratives of belonging outside of the geographies and temporalities that have both unsettled our sense of home, and make our places of affinity uninhabitable. Khoshgozaran has exhibited internationally and is an editor at MARCH: a journal of art and strategy.

گلاره خوشگذران هنرمند چند رسانی و نویسنده ای ست که به میراث خشونت امپریالیستی میپردازد. او از مدیوم  فیلم و ویدئو برای کشف روایت‌های تعلق در خارج از جغرافیا و موقعیت‌های موقتی استفاده می‌کند که هم حس خانه را در ما متزلزل کرده و هم مکان‌های نزدیک ما را غیرقابل سکونت کرده است. آثار خوشگذران در سراسر جهان نمایش داده شده، و او در حال حاضر ویرایشگر مجله هنر و استراتژی "مارس" است.

 

Royal Debris

(2022)

 
 
 
 

Located at 3005 Massachusetts Ave N.W., the former embassy of Iran in Washington D.C. has been shuttered for four decades. The vacant and abandoned building embodies a contradiction: it is a ruin due to its deteriorating condition caused, in large part, by the ongoing US sanctions on Iran, yet it is privileged with exceptional protection thanks to its ‘foreign mission’ status. Taking the building’s symbolic and material status as its point of departure, Royal Debris is a rumination on borders, displacement and ruination through excursions into family history, architecture, poetry and contemporary art.

Au 3005, avenue du Massachusetts, Washington, l’ancienne ambassade d’Iran aux États-Unis est à l’abandon depuis quarante ans. Vide et désaffecté, le bâtiment qui l’abrite est en soi un paradoxe : une ruine dont l’état empire faute d’entretien par le gouvernement iranien, toujours sous le joug des sanctions économiques américaines, mais qui jouit pourtant d’une protection renforcée en tant que « mission diplomatique ».
Réflexion sur les frontières, le déplacement et les ruines, Royal Debris prend pour point de départ l’existence symbolique et matérielle de cette ambassade, en faisant quelques détours par l’histoire familiale de la réalisatrice, l’architecture, la poésie et l’art contemporain.

۳۰۰۵ خیابان ماساچوست آدرس سفارت سابق ایران در واشنگتن است که از بسته شدن درهایش چهار دهه می‌گذرد. این ساختمان به دلایل مختلفی از جمله تحریم‌های متداوم ایران از سوی ایالت متحده در حال تخریب است، اما به دلیل تعلق به "امور خارجه" مکانی محافظت شده هم تلقی میشود. با در نظر گرفتن جایگاه نمادین و مادی ساختمان به عنوان نقطه شروع، Royal Debris فرصتی برای اندیشیدن درباره مرزها، جا به جایی و ویرانی از طریق گشت و گذار در تاریخ خانوادگی، معماری، شعر و هنر معاصر فراهم می‌کند.

 

Men Of My Dreams

(2020)

 

A poetic reflection on the artist’s exile, MEN OF MY DREAMS unfolds as a series of vignettes that toy with the unstable ground between dream and reality. Thinking about the past as being materially present in fragments of knowledge carried by the body, MEN OF MY DREAMS delves into the artist’s personal history by invoking a group of men that surrounded the artist through their writing, music, filmmaking and activism while growing up in Tehran and moving to the US. MEN OF MY DREAMS seeks the idea of ‘home’ in the lineage of antifascist thought, poetry and activism connecting Los Angeles to the artist’s intellectual, political and affective spaces of belonging.

Méditation poétique sur l’exil, MEN OF MY DREAMS est composé en neuf vignettes successives qui jouent avec les limites fragiles entre rêve et réalité. En supposant que le passé est éprouvé continuellement par le corps qui en garde des souvenir incomplets, le film parcourt l’histoire personnelle de la réalisatrice en invoquant les figures masculines (écrivains, musiciens, cinéastes, militants…) qui l’ont accompagnée depuis son enfance à Téhéran jusque dans sa vie d’immigrée aux États-Unis. Afin de reconstruire un « chez soi » mental, Khoshgozaran articule l’héritage de la pensée, de la poésie et de l’engagement antifasciste à Los Angeles, avec les espaces intellectuels, politiques et affectifs auxquels elle s’identifie.

MEN OF MY DREAMS بازتابی شاعرانه در مورد تبعید هنرمند است. مجموعه‌ تصاویر انتخاب شده با فضای متزلزل بین رویا و واقعیت بازی می‌کند. این فیلم با در نظر گرفتن حضور گذشته در دانشی که بدن به همراه دارد، با اشاره به گروهی از مردان که هنرمند را در تهران و بعد در دوران مهاجرت به ایالت متحده از طریق نوشته ها، موسیقی، فیلم سازی و فعالیتهایشان همراهی کردند، به تاریخچه شخصی هنرمند می پردازد.MEN OF MY DREAMS در جستجوی تعریف «خانه» در بین اندیشه های ضدفاشیستی، شعر و کنشگری است که لس آنجلس را به فضاهای تعلق فکری، سیاسی و عاطفی هنرمند متصل می کند.

 
 

rial and tERROR

(2011)

 

The video collage comprises pre-revolutionary Iranian TV commercials of Western commodities, Iranian 1960s psychedelic rock music, pirated tapes of American 1980s pop music videos distributed as contraband in post-revolutionary Iran, and home videos. Through its anagrammatical title and anachronistic structure, it creates a fragmented, cross-generational narrative of the Iranian diaspora through moments of collective loss, longing and violent disruption. A central question to this experimental video is how the notion of pleasure is shaped through imperial, military and state violence.

rial and tERROR est un video-collage où se confrontent des publicités occidentales qu’on pouvait voir à la télévision iranienne avant la révolution, du rock psychédélique iranien des années 1960, des clips piratés de pop américaine qu’on faisait circuler sous le manteau dans les années 1980 et des films de famille. La contrepèterie du titre et la structure anachronique du film font le récit éclaté de la diaspora iranienne, en croisant les points de vue générationnels sur des épisodes de perte collective, d’attente et de tumulte politique. L’une des questions centrales de cette vidéo expérimentale est de savoir comment le plaisir est façonné par la violence de l’impérialisme, de l’armée et de l'État.

این کلاژ ویدیویی شامل تبلیغات تلویزیونی ایران قبل از انقلاب از کالاهای غربی، موسیقی راک روانگردان دهه ۱۹۶۰ ایران، نوارهای دزدی از ویدئوهای موسیقی پاپ آمریکایی دهه ۱۹۸۰ که به عنوان کالای قاچاق در ایران پس از انقلاب توزیع شده بود، و ویدئوی خانگی است. با عنوان تحریف شده و ساختار زمان پریشانه خود، این فیلم روایتی پراکنده و بین نسلی از دیاسپورای ایرانی را از طریق لحظات فقدان جمعی، خواسته ها و اختلافات شدید تعریف می‌کند. سوال اصلی این ویدئوی تجربی این است که چگونه مفهوم لذت به واسطه خشونت امپریالیستی، نظامی و دولتی شکل می گیرد.

 
 
Gelare Khoshgozaran

KATAYOUN JALILIPOUR

کتایون جلیلی پور 

Katayoun Jalilipour by Julia Fiona Brown_1 copy.jpg

Gut Feelings: Fragments of Truth (2021, 12’)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Katayoun Jalilipour is an Iranian multidisciplinary artist, performer and writer based in the UK. Through humour, provocation and storytelling, their practice uses the body as the subject to talk about race, gender identity and sexuality.

They work in a variety of mediums including moving image, installation, drawing, text and live performance. They use speculative histories and fictions to re-tell stories through a queer lens, and they have an ongoing body of research looking for fragments of queerness hidden in Iran’s Qajar era.

Katayoun is an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martins, London, UK.

کتایون جلیلی پور ھنرمند و نویسنده ایرانی مقیم بریتانیا است. از طریق طنز، تحریک و داستان سرایی، از بدن ھا .بھ عنوان سوژه برای صحبت در مورد نژاد، ھویت جنسی و تمایلات جنسی استفاده می کند

او با رسانھ ھای مختلف از جملھ تصویر متحرک، نصب، طراحی، متن و اجرای زنده کار می کنند و با استفاده از یک لنز کوییر، تاریخھا و داستانھای احتکار امیز را بازگویی میکنند.

پژوھش مداومی او بھ دنبال تکھھایی ازتاریخ ھای پنھان شده ھمجنس گرایی و تصاوییر و داستانھای ابھام جنسیتی، در دوران قاجار میگردد.

.کتایون استاد دانشگاه سنت مارتینز در لندن است.

 

Gut Feelings:

Fragments of Truth

(2021)
English / Français / فارسی

 
stfr.png

‘Gut Feelings’ – a multiple-part project – is inspired by the lives of historical figures during the Qajar era in Iran (1785-1925), such as Tāj al-Saltaneh (1884 – 1936), a member of Qajar dynasty and feminist activist who, in the internet era and digital world, is misrepresented and the subject of racist and misogynistic memes. Tāj al-Saltaneh is central to ‘Gut Feelings: Fragments of Truth’, and her well-documented life provides a window into the lives of other Qajar women. The film asserts the importance of truthful and accessible archival information and examines the part oppressive systems play in spreading misinformation. It asks how fragments of historical truth might reimagine queerness in pre-westernised Iran.

Racialisation and archival inaccuracy are some themes explored in ‘Gut Feelings: Fragments of Truth’, through an investigation into the mixing-up of images of Tāj al-Saltaneh and Maria Anna of Neuburg (1667 – 1740) that has happened online. This film represents whiteness as the ‘antagonist’ and sheds light on the way unethical archiving stems from systematic oppressions including racism. This digital misrepresentation symbolises the Iranian obsession with whiteness: not only the idea of looking white, but of acting and living out the fantasy of whiteness. Maria Anna’s facial features represent everything Tāj al-Saltaneh and I are not, and everything Tāj al-Saltaneh and the women in her family have, on the internet, been ridiculed for lacking.

What is left out of our identity once we exist only on the web, are images and texts that don’t speak for the full lived experience of a person and can easily be manipulated. In a way manipulation in the digital format is used in this work through GIFs and photo animation. There is also an attempt to alter and queer artworks from the Qajar era that are products of the male gaze: photographs of women lying on each other, partially nude, and paintings often including paled skin, all have been positioned together in a homoerotic manner.

Fragments of truth are spread throughout the historical works and photographs examined in Gut Feelings: a search for stories that have not been told, a way of reading between the lines, sometimes by manipulating imagery. Gut Feelings brings to light what is missed from Iran’s archives, in a performative and lively manner. It creates space for those who have fallen through the cracks of archiving systems, and those who did not have their stories documented. —Katayoun Jalilipour

Gut Feelings (un projet en plusieurs parties) s’inspire des figures historiques de la dynastie qui a régné sur l’Iran entre 1785 et 1925, les Qâjar, et en particulier de Tāj al-Saltaneh (1884-1936), militante féministe faisant aujourd’hui l’objet de memes racistes et misogynes sur internet. À partir des détails souvent bien documentés de sa vie, le film s’interroge sur le quotidien des autres femmes Qâjar. C’est aussi une défense de l’accès inconditionnel à la vérité et aux archives historiques, alors même que les stratégies de désinformation font partie intégrante des systèmes d’oppression. Comment, à partir de rares bribes de vérité historique, imaginer une nouvelle représentation des identités queer dans l’Iran du XIXè siècle ? 

Quand elle découvre que le nom de Tāj al-Saltaneh est souvent associé sur internet à un portrait gravé de la reine d’Espagne Maria Anna de Neuburg (1667-1740), la réalisatrice se heurte à la racialisation des figures historiques et à leur détournement ; et montre comment les oppressions structurelles – comme le racisme – peuvent pousser à un usage malhonnête des archives. Selon elle, « Cette confusion entre les deux femme dit quelque chose de l’obsession iranienne pour la blancheur : le désir de vouloir non seulement ressembler aux Blanches, mais d’agir et de vivre pleinement dans le fantasme de la blancheur. Dans le visage de Maria Anna, il y a tout ce que Tāj al-Saltaneh et moi  ne sommes pas, et tout ce que Tāj al-Saltaneh et les femmes de sa famille ont été accusées – en étant moquées sur internet pour cela – de ne pas avoir.  

Les images et les textes que l’on laisse sur internet ne rendent justice ni à notre identité, ni à notre expérience vécue, et peuvent facilement être détournés. D’une certaine façon, j’utilise moi aussi ces outils numériques (GIFs, animation de photographies en 3D) pour détourner les images de l’ère Qâjar produites pour et par le regard masculin, mais relues avec un point de vue queer : en pointant par exemple l’homoérotisme implicite des nombreuses photographies de femmes allongées l’une contre l’autre, en partie dénudées, ou à la peau particulièrement blanche. 

Les œuvres et les photographies historiques qui composent Gut Feelings recèlent des fragments de vérité : c’est une enquête sur une partie oubliée de l’histoire, une façon de lire entre les lignes et de se réapproprier ces représentations. Le dispositif performatif et ironique de Gut Feelings souligne les points aveugles de l’histoire iranienne ; il fait une place à celles et ceux qui ont échappé aux archives et dont l’histoire n’a pas été documentée. »

 

با استفاده از تاریخچھ گمانھ ای،مجموعھ ای ’احساسات درونی‘ از طریق یک لنز کوییر، آثار ھنری و تصاویر مربوط بھ اواخر قرن نوزدھم ایران را زنده می کند. یک الھام مرگزی در این مجموعھ، از زندگی شخصیت ھای تاریخی مانند شاھزاده قاجار و فعال فمینیست تاج السالانھ است، کھ در دنیای دیجیتال از طریق الگوھای رفتاری و اطلاعات نادرست ارائھ شده است. احساسات درونی اطلاعات آرشیوی محقق و قابل دسترسی را زیر سوال می برد وسوال میکند کھ سیستم ھای سرکوبگر )برای مثال عقیده ھای مستعمراتی( چھ نقشی در این زمینھ دارند. این مجموعھ از تصویر متحرک )انیمیشن(، سعی میکند زنان این دوران را با دیدی مثبت بھ تصویر بکشید و در مورد اینکھ چگونھ قطعاتی از حقیقت ھای تاریخی می توانند در زمان پیش از غربزدگی و مدرنیتھ ایران، امکانی برای یافتن مدرک تاریخی وجود ھمجنس گرایی در این زمان داشتھ باشند، و کوییر بودن را در این تاریخ تجسم میکند.

نژادپرستی و عدم دقت آرشیوی برخی از موضوعاتی ھستند کھ در ویدیوی »احساس روده: تکھھایی از حقیقت« از طریق مغشوش کردن تصاویر تاجالسلطنھ و ملکھ اسپانیا ماریا آنا در اینترنت بررسی شدهاند. این سفیدی را بھ عنوان "دشمن" نشان می دھد، و اینکھ شیوه بایگانی غیراخلاقی ناشی از ظلم ھای سیستماتیک مانند نژادپرستی است. این نمایشھای غلط دیجیتالی نماد علاقھ مندیھ غلط ایرانیان بھ سفیدی است. نھ تنھا برای سفید بھ نظررسیدن، بلکھ برای "سفید" عمل کردن، و زندگی کردن با ھوس ھای فانتزی سفید. ویژگیھای صورت ماریا آنا نشاندھنده ھر چیزی است کھ من و تاجالسلطنھ بھ عنوان دو ایرانی نیستیم، و ھمھ چیزھایی کھ تاجالسلطنھ و زنان خانوادهاش .بھ خاطر نداشتن آنھا در اینترنت مورد تمسخر قرار گرفتھاند

چیز ھایی کھ وقتی پس از مرگ از ھویت ما بھ جا میماند، فقط تصاویر و شاید متنھایی ھستند کھ تجربھ کامل زندگی یک فرد را بیان نمیکنند، و بھ راحتی قابل دستکاری ھستند. مجموعھ احساسات درونی، با استفاده از دستکاری دیجیتال و از طریق و انیمیشن عکس، موضوع عدم ارشیو ھای تاریخی را کاوش میکند، و تلاشی برای تغییر و دگرگونی آثار ھنری کھ محصول نگاه مردانھ از دوران قاجار ھستند. عکسھای زنانی کھ روی ھم دراز کشیدهاند، نقاشیھای نیمھ برھنھ از زنان قاجار، اغلب با پوست سفید، ھمھ بھ شیوهای ھمواروتیک کنار ھم قرار گرفتھاند. تکھھای حقیقت ھای تاریخی در سرتاسر این آثار ھنری پخش شده. این مجموعھ بھ دنبال داستانھایی ھستند کھ گفتھ نشدهاند، بھ خواندن بین خطوط و از طریق تصاویر دستکاری شده. آنچھ کھ در آرشیوھای ایران از قلم افتاده است، مانند تاریخ ھمجنس گرایان را بھ نمایش می گذارد و فضایی برای کسانی ایجاد می کند کھ از شکاف ھای بایگانی افتاده اند. کسانی کھ داستان ھایشان مستند نشده است.

مجموعھ کامل احساسات درونی را از طریق این لینک ببینید

 

www.archivalaffections.com/katayoun-jalilipour.html

Katayoun Jalilipour

MARYAM TAFAKORY

مریم‌ تفکری

Irani Bag (2021, 8’)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tafakory.png

Maryam Tafakory [b. Iran] is an artist filmmaker whose textual and filmic collages interweave poetry, documentary, archival, and found material. Her work has been exhibited internationally including at MoMA Doc Fortnight; IFFR Rotterdam; ICA London; True/False; Pergamon Museum; M HKA; and Anthology Film Archives amongst others. 

She has received several awards including the Ammodo Tiger Short at 51st IFFR, Gold Hugo Award at 58th Chicago International Film Festival, Barbara Hammer Feminist Film Award at 60th Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best Experimental Short Film at 70th Melbourne International Film Festival, the Jury Prize at Documenta Madrid, and the Best Short Film at Festival de Cine Lima Independiente. She was awarded the Flaherty/Colgate Distinguished Global Filmmaker in Residence (NY) in 2019, and she received a MacDowell Fellowship in 2022. 

Irani Bag

(2021)

 
 

A video essay that deconstructs a cinematographic motif in order to propose a powerful textual and political analysis of censorship and intimacy in post-revolution Iran. Irani Bag not only exposes a codified vocabulary, it also invites the spectator to reconsider the relationship to (and between) sight and touch.

Un essai vidéo qui déconstruit le sens d’un accessoire cinématographique (le sac) pour mieux analyser les ressorts textuels et politiques de la censure et de l’intimité dans l’Iran post-révolutionnaire. Irani Bag décrypte le vocabulaire gestuel codifié de la société iranienne, tout en invitant les spectateur·ices à repenser notre relation (et la relation entre) la vue et le toucher. 

این فیلم یک مقاله ویدیوییست که به منظور ارائه یک تحلیل نوشتاری و سیاسی قوی از سانسور و روابط جنسی‌ در ایران قبل از انقلاب، مضمون‌های سینمایی را واسازی می‌کند. "کیف ایرانی" نه تنها واژه‌ها را رمزگشایی کرده، بلکه از تماشاگر دعوت می‌کند در درک رابطه بین بینایی و لامسه تجدید نظر کند.

Maryam Tafakory

MAAMAN REZAEE

مأمن رضایی

 
 
 
 
 
 

Minuet For A Disappearance (2016)

And Their Eyes Were Not Watching Us (2020)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ii_lamy1nmv1.jpeg

Maaman Rezaee is an Iranian-American filmmaker whose work focuses on issues of exile, geopolitics and transcultural dynamics. She works within experimental and narrative forms and has written and directed a number of films which were screened locally and internationally. These include Evanescence (2022), Family of Too Many (2018) and Minuet for A Disappearance (2016). Born and raised in Iran, Rezaee began her creative practice with studies in music and painting. She later attended Baha'i Institute of Higher Education, an underground university for Baha'is, a religious minority in Iran not allowed in state universities. At BIHE she studied Architecture before moving to the US to finish her BA in Fine Arts, concentrating on photography and video arts. She received her MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and worked as an Assistant Professor at University of New Mexico. She’s currently based in Los Angeles. 

Minuet For A Disappearance (2016)

no dialogue / sans dialogue / بدون کلام

 
 

Minuet For A Disappearance is a visual poem, written and crafted by the filmmaker for her father, a political prisoner in Iran. Along with drawings on 16mm film and a violin piece from her childhood, her father's letters, his gifts, his phone calls and a stealthily-recorded video from within the prison walls, constitute the verses. 

مینوئتی‌ برای ناپدیدی:

این قطعه، یک شعر تصویری است که فیلمساز برای پدرش که در ایران زندانی سیاسی بوده، ساخته است.

در کنار نقاشی و کولاژ روی فیلم ۱۶ میلیمتری و قطعه ای از ویولون نوازی های کودکیش، نامه های پدر و هدیه همایش از زندان، تلفن های ضبط شده و ویدیویی که مخفیانه از درون زندان گرفته شده، ابیات این شعر را تشکیل می دهند.

And Their Eyes Were Not Watching Us (2020)

no dialogue / sans dialogue / بدون کلام

 
 
 

This film is a response to the violence and horror that ensued during the 2019 protests in Iran. And it’s a protest itself to the whole world diverting their eyes as over 100 men, women and children were killed on the streets of Iran.

و چشم هایشان مارا نمی دید:

این فیلم جوابی است به خشونت و وحشتی که در اعتراضات سال ۲۰۱۹ به مردم ایران وارد شد و اعتراضی است به سکوت کامل جهانیان در مقابله با جریاناتی  که در آن صد ها ایرانی در خیابان‌ها کشته شدند.

 

Artist's Statement

English / Français / فارسی

 
 

For me, filmmaking is a means of self-expression and self-exploration. Growing up in Iran as a woman from a religious minority, known as Baha’is, meant not having a say in how my story was told or even much control over it in the course of my life. As children growing up in this community, we were not allowed in state-sponsored universities and, like all other Iranians, our self-expression was limited under the censorship and control of the state.

I find myself very self-aware of my current privilege of freedom of speech and tend to focus on narratives about people without this access, those who have been marginalized or silenced due to socio-political situations. This also dictates my approach to directing.

The themes I explore in my films are experiences of alienation, issues of exile and geopolitics, transracial and transcultural dynamics and authentic moral dilemmas. I look at filmmaking not only as entertainment, but as the process of self-exploration and self-realisation. I enjoy working within hybrid forms, bringing my background in visual art and video art into the process of making documentaries and fiction films. This juxtaposition of different visual elements plays a part in Minuet For A Disappearance and And Their Eyes Were Not Watching Us.

The films were made using drawings and collages on 16mm film. The fact that my canvas was as wide as 16mm, meant that I had to let go of the illusion of control and focus on the process itself. They both deal with elements of nostalgia, a yearning for home and memory. And the process itself ended up being an expression of those feelings, which I hope comes through the end result of the films.


از زبان فیلمساز:
برای من فیلمسازی راهی برای بیان و کاوش است. بزرگ شدن در ایران به این معنا است که آزادی داستان گویی ما زیر کنترل و سانسور حکومت است. در کنار آن، من زنی بودم از اقلیت مذهبی بهایی . جوانان این جامعه حتی اجازه ی ورود به دانشگاه را ندارند. من همچون بسیاری دیگر از ایرانیان، در حسرت این بودم که داستان خود و آنچه در اطرافم می گذشت را بازگو کنم و سرشار بودم از اشتیاق برای یادگیری هنر داستان گویی.

این روزها به این امتیاز خود آگاهم و سعی می‌کنم بر داستان هایی تمرکز کنم که شخصیت های آن به دلایل سیاسی و اجتماعی به حاشیه رانده شده و یا ساکت شده اند. این تمرکز هم در داستان پردازی و هم شیوه ی کارگردانی من مشهود است.

از جمله موضوعاتی که به آن می پردازم، حس بیگانگی، مشکلات تبعید، روابط فرافرهنگی و فرانژادی و چالش های اخلاقی است. به فیلمسازی نه تنها به شکل ابزاری برای ایجاد سرگرمی، بلکه راهی برای جستجو و بیان حقیقت نگاه می کنم. در کارهایم استفاده از فرم های ترکیبی را می توان دید که پیش زمینه ام در هنرهای تصویری و لذت ساخت  فیلم های مستند و داستانی را به هم گره می زند. به طور مثال عناصر مختلف تصویری در «مینوئتی برای ناپدیدی» و «و چشم هایشان ما را نمی دید» به هم تنیده می شوند.

این دو فیلم به وسیله ی نقاشی و کولاژ روی فیلم ۱۶ میلیمتری ساخته شده اند. به دلیل کوچکی بوم نقاشی، مجبور شدم توهم کنترل روی کار را کنار بگذارم و از فرایند انجام آن لذت ببرم. هر دو فیلم با مفاهیمی مثل نوستالژی، غربت و حسرت دوری از خانه و خاطرات آن به وجود آمدند و فرآیند ساختشان راهی بود برای من که این احساسات را ابراز کنم و امیدوارم در اثر نهایی هم حس شوند. 
 

Maaman Rezaee

PARASTOO ANOUSHAHPOUR,

FARAZ ANOUSHAHPOUR

& RYAN FERKO

پرستو انوشه پور، فراز انوشه پور، و رايان فركو

 
 
 
 
 
 

Pictures of Departure (Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour, 2018, 12’)

Chooka (Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour, Ryan Ferko, 2018, 22’)

beach (Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour, Ryan Ferko, 2018, 29’)

 
 
 
 
IMG_7312.jpg

Leonie Hugendubel

 
 

Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour and Ryan Ferko have worked in collaboration since 2013. Their shared practice explores the interplay of multiple subjectivities as a strategy to address the power inherent in narrative structures. Foregrounding the idea of place as a central focus, their work seeks to both decode their surroundings and trouble the production of images through speculative narration and dialectical imagery. Shifting between both gallery and cinema contexts, recent projects have been presented at The Flaherty Seminar, MoMA, Berlinale, Punto De Vista International Documentary Festival, Viennale, Media City Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and others internationally. 

 

Parastoo Anoushahpour and Faraz Anoushahpour are Iranian siblings based in Toronto with backgrounds in Theatre and Architecture working predominantly in video and installation. Their solo and collective works have been shown at Berlinale, MOCA, Regent Park Film Festival, Cine Migrante, Punto de Vista Film Festival, Viennale, New York Film Festival, Wavelengths (Toronto International Film Festival), Images Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Media City Festival (Windsor/Detroit), and others. Since 2013 they have been working in collaboration with Ryan Ferko.

 

Parastoo Anoushahpour (Iran / Canada) is an artist originally from Tehran now based in Toronto working predominantly with film, video and installation. She was an artist in residence at the Mohammad and Mahera Abu Ghazaleh Foundation (Jordan), Tabakalera International Center for Contemporary Art (Spain), Taipei Artist Village (Taiwan), and Banff Center for Arts & Creativity (Canada). Her recent solo and collaborative work has been shown at Berlinale, MoMA, The Flaherty Film Seminar, Punto de Vista Film Festival, Sharjah Film Platform, Viennale, NYFF, TIFF, Images Festival, IFF Rotterdam, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Experimenta (Bangalore), and Media City Film Festival. Since 2013 she has been working in collaboration with Ryan Ferko and Faraz Anoushahpour. Their shared practice explores the tension of multiple subjectivities as a strategy to address the power inherent in narrative structures. 

پرستو انوشه پور، فراز انوشه پور، و رايان فركو فعاليت گروهى خود را از سال ٢٠١٣ شروع كرده اند. كارهاى هنرى اين سه به بررسى نقش  قدرت در ساختارهای  روايي مي پردازد. با تمركز بر اهميت "مكان" در پروسه ى توليد تصاوير، پروژه هاى هنرى آنها به دنبال خوانش محيط اطراف خود به واسطه ی  روايات پيچيده و تصاوير ديالكتيكي است.

 

پروژهای اخير آنها ، در سمینار فلاهرتی (Flaherty Seminary)، موما (MoMA)، برلیناله (Berlinale)، جشنواره بین‌المللی مستند پونتو ده ویستا (Punto De Vista)، وینال (Viennale)، جشنواره فیلم مدیا سیتی (Media City)، جشنواره فیلم نیویورک (NYFF)، جشنواره بین‌المللی فیلم تورنتو(TIFF) وغیره در سطح بین‌المللی ارائه شده‌اند.
 

پرستو انوشه پور و فراز انوشه‌ پور خواهر و برادر ایرانی مقیم تورنتو هستند. سابقه‌ای تحصيلى  آنها در تئاتر و معماری و کارهایشان عمدتاً در زمینه‌ ی ویدئو و چیدمان است. آثار انفرادی و گروهی آنها در سمینار فلاهرتی (Flaherty Seminary)، موما (MoMA)، برلیناله (Berlinale)، جشنواره بین‌المللی مستند پونتو د ویستا (Punto De Vista)، وینال (Viennale)، جشنواره فیلم مدیا سیتی (Media City Film Festival)، جشنواره فیلم نیویورک (NYFF)، جشنواره بین‌المللی فیلم تورنتو(TIFF) و غیره در سطح بین‌المللی ارائه شده‌اند. از سال ۲۰۱۳ آنها با رایان فرکو همکاری می کنند.

Pictures of Departure (2018)

 
 
 
 

In winter of 1986 our mother writes in her diary: “To scratch the surface of a subject does not penetrate deep into the subject”. Almost three decades later, Pictures of Departure takes this entry and sets off to explore the surfaces and the scratches that linger across generations.

Commissioned by Regent Park Film Festival as part of the Home Made Visible Project

Pendant l’hiver 1986, notre mère écrivait dans son journal : « Gratter la surface d’un sujet, ce n’est pas creuser le sujet. » Trente ans plus tard, Pictures of Departure s’attarde sur cette phrase, à la recherche des surfaces et des marques qui subsistent à travers les générations. 

در زمستان سال ۱۳۶۴، مادرمان در دفترچه ی خاطراتش می نویسد:'خراش دادن سطح یک سوژه، کمکی به درک آن سوژه نمی کند'. بعد از گذشت تقریبا سه دهه، فیلم تصاویری برای حرکت به این جمله برمی گردد تا به سطوح و خراش هایی که در طی زمان میان نسل ها معلق مانده اند، بپردازد.

 

این فیلم به سفارش جشنواره فیلم ریجنتس پارک (Regent Park Film Festival) به عنوان بخشی از پروژه Home Made Visible تولید شده است.

Chooka

(2018)

 
 
 
 

In 1973, the Shah of Iran commissioned the construction of a paper factory in the lush northern province of Gilan. Foreign engineers from Canada and the United States were brought to develop and run the facility, bringing with them their families as well as a species of pine tree previously unknown to the region. Their stay, however, came to a sudden halt in 1979 with the Iranian revolution forcing them to flee the site overnight.

Chooka unfolds between the site of this factory and a rural family house located in a nearby village. Coinciding with the construction of the factory, this family hosted the production of Bahram Beyzaie’s film, The Stranger and The Fog. Shot in the same village, the film begins when an unconscious stranger drifts ashore in a small boat. After the revolution, Beyzaie returned to the same house to produce his film Bashu, The Little Stranger, about a young war refugee who escapes the south and ends up alone in a small northern village.

Returning to this landscape 40 years later, we meet the family again. It is summer and the grandfather of the family who hosted Beyzaie has passed away. His adult son is working at the paper factory while his grandson, between English classes, shows us the secret corners of his family’s house. Mediated through screens and photography, Chooka weaves original material with elements of archival documentary footage and fragments of Beyzaie’s cinema to explore the entangled relationship between a stranger and a host, a factory and a village, a film crew and a family, foreign trees and a landscape.

Commissioned by Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) as part of the Jacques Madvo Collection Project

En 1973, le Shah d’Iran annonce la construction d’une usine de papier dans la luxuriante province du Guilan. Venus du Canada et des États-Unis, des ingénieurs s’installent dans la région pour en superviser la construction et le fonctionnement, accompagnés de leurs familles et d’une espèce de pin ne poussant pas naturellement dans le pays. En 1979, la révolution iranienne met brutalement fin à leur séjour et les force à fuir du jour au lendemain. 

Chooka est fait d’allers-retours entre cette usine et la maison de campagne d’une famille ayant accueilli, à l’époque où l’usine sortait de terre, l’équipe du film de Bahram Beyzaie, The Stranger and the Fog. Tourné dans leur village, le film s’ouvre sur la dérive d’un étranger inconscient, transporté vers le large par son bateau de fortune. Après la révolution, c’est dans ce village que Beyzaie retournera pour tourner son film Bashu, the Little Stranger, mettant en scène un homme qui fuit la guerre au sud du pays, et se réfugie dans un village du nord. 

Quarante ans plus tard, cette famille vit toujours au même endroit. Le grand-père qui avait accueilli Beyzaie est mort. Son fils travaille à l’usine de papier tandis que son petit-fils, entre deux cours d’Anglais, nous guide dans les méandres secrets de la maison familiale. Par le truchement d’écrans et de photographies, Chooka confrontent des images contemporaines, des archives documentaires et des fragments du cinéma de Beyzaie, en explorant la relation qui unit un étranger et son hôte, une usine et un village, l’équipe d’un film et une famille, des arbres venus d’ailleurs et un paysage. 


Commandé par Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT), dans le cadre du Jacques Madvo Collection Project.


در سال ۱۹۷۸ شاه ایران کارخانه کاغذسازی چوکا را در استان سرسبز گیلان راه اندازی می کند. مهندسان خارجی از کانادا و ایالات متحده برای توسعه و راه اندازی این تأسیسات به ایران می آیند و خانواده های خود و همچنین گونه ای ناشناخته از درخت کاج را  به ایران می آوردند. اما اقامت آنها در سال ۱۹۷۹ به طور ناگهانی متوقف می شود و انقلاب ایران آنها را مجبور می کند که یک شبه فرار کنند.

فیلم چوکا بین محل این کارخانه و یک خانواده و خانه محلی شان واقع در روستای مجاور اتفاق می افتد. همزمان با ساخت و راه اندازی کارخانه، این خانواده میزبان تیم فیلمبرداری 'غریبه و مه' بهرام بیضایی نیز بودند.  این فیلم که در همان روستا فیلمبرداری شده است، داستان غریبه ای سرگردان است که با یک قایق کوچک به ساحلی می رسد. پس از انقلاب هم، بیضایی برای تولید فیلم 'باشو، غریبه کوچک'، به همان خانه بازمی گردد. ۴۰ سال بعد، با این خانواده دوباره ملاقات می کنیم. تابستان است و پدربزرگ خانواده که میزبان بهرام بیضایی بود، درگذشته است. پسر او در کارخانه کاغذ کار می کند و نوه اش در بین کلاس های زبان انگلیسی گوشه های مخفی خانه شان را به ما نشان می دهد.
 

beach (2018)

 
 
 
 
 

beach is a recreation of a live performance originally presented at Mercer Union in Toronto in June 2018. An expanded prologue for the film Chooka, the performance used a live feed from an iPhone to project images taken while making the film, as well as material from Jacques Madvo’s archive, the original spark for the creation of the work. Paired with writing that was swapped back and forth between the artists, the work meditates on the politics of an archive, the shifting agency of different bodies in a landscape, and the challenge of asking what a complete image could be.

ساحل پیش درآمدی براى فيلم چوكا است كه در آن راش های  فيلم و همچنين تصاويري از آرشيو ژاك مادو(مستندساز لبنانی-کانادایی)، نقطه ی شروع پروژه چوکا،، به صورت زنده و از طريق يك آیفون نمایش داده می شوند . ساحل برای اولین بار، در ماه ژوئن سال ٢٠١٨ در گالرى Mercer Union تورنتو به شکل یک ویدیو-پرفورمنس اجرا شد. 

 
 
 
 
 
Anoushahpour & Ferko

NIA FEKRI

نيا فكرى

 
 
 
 

Mothers Apricot Compote (2020, 23')

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
press photo.png

Nia Fekri is an Iranian-British multidisciplinary artist and educator working primarily with moving-image, writing and performance. She received a BA from Slade School of Fine Art. Her work often deals with modes of storytelling in conversation and the ways they structure everyday realities and fictions. She is driven by need to register the fragmentary and ghostly nature of immigrant experiences, familial relationships and intimate spaces. As an educator and facilitator, Nia’s focus is on collaborative storytelling, speculative exercise through a variety of mediums. Her most recent projects have been in collaboration with UCL Art Museum, The Mosaic Rooms gallery and the British Film Institute. 

Mothers Apricot Compote (2020)

 
 

A fragmentary narrative of two women whose lives are distant from each other, yet hold traces of resemblance. The film conjures the ghosts that haunt the daily lives of these two women. It is at once a rumination on the experience of the immigrant within and without the Iranian diaspora, and the ways in which generational memory cracks through the surface of everyday life.

Un récit fragmenté sur deux femmes que tout oppose, mais qui se ressemblent. Le film convoque les fantômes qui les accompagnent dans la vie de tous les jours. Il montre, d’une part, ce qu’est l’expérience de la migration à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur de la diaspora iranienne, et d’autre part, comment la mémoire générationnelle remonte à la surface du quotidien.

روایت منقطعی از دو زن که علیرغم دوری زندگی هایشان ازهم، شباهتهایی هم دارند. فیلم روح هایی را که بر زندگی این دو زن سیطره دارند احضار میکند. فیلم به نوعی بیانگر تجربه مهاجر درون و بدون جامعه مهاجر ایرانی است، و همچنین نشان دهنده راه هایی است که حافظه نسل های مختلف از خلال سطوح زندگی روزمره خود را نشان میدهد.

Artist's Statement

English / Français / فارسی

 

In this film, there is an absence of naming and of addressing, and in this absence the house begins to scream.

 

Mother’s Apricot Compote comes out of two spaces, one an intimate conversation, the other a moment of solitude. In both cases, something is unspoken but weighs heavy.

 

Two years after making the film, I asked my therapist: how do I speak about violence? Not acts of violence, but the thing that clings onto furniture, passes through bodies, makes itself visible in momentary ruptures. We didn’t reach an answer because it was not clear what I was asking. She thought I was asking for permission and I thought I was asking for a language. Outside of the therapy session, there had been a poverty of language when in conversation with our collective intergenerational trans-border bodies. So I spoke of porosity, of walls, of skin, of days. No exit. I went around in circles. Now, I realise that I was asking for permission – not from my therapist but from those who are woven into the fabric of the violence I wanted to address. Addressing this violence and its passage through this porous trauma ridden body of which we are all limbs, would engender a reckoning with things they did not want to reckon with; things the generations before me had buried in order to cope and go on living. In this revolutionary moment, I am faced with the hierarchies of that which can be named as violence and who is free to name it as such. Yet simultaneously I am witness to the collapse of these hierarchies from all directions in multiple places by the hands of young visionary Iranian and Kurdish women and those who stand with them. More tangibly than ever, I have felt the power of naming and of addressing, and in order to build on that momentum from my own coordinates, I cross a threshold.

Dans ce film, rien n’est nommé et rien n’est traité, et c’est dans ce vide et cette absence que la maison se met à hurler.

Mother’s Apricot Compote survient à travers deux espaces : le premier est une conversation intime et le second un moment de solitude. Dans les deux cas, quelque chose reste tu, mais pèse pourtant de tout son poids.

Deux ans après avoir réalisé le film, j’ai demandé à ma thérapeute : comment parler de la violence ? Non pas des actes de violence, mais de ce qui imprègne les meubles, traverse les corps et se manifeste dans des ruptures passagères. Nous n’avons pas trouvé de réponse car ma question n’était pas claire. Elle pensait que je demandais la permission de le faire, tandis que je pensais être à la recherche d’un langage pour le faire. En dehors de la séance de thérapie, j’ai constaté une pauvreté du langage lorsqu’il s’agit de parler de nos corps collectifs, intergénérationnels et transfrontaliers. Je parlais donc de la porosité des murs, de la peau et des jours. Il n’y avait pas d’issue. Je tournais en rond. Aujourd’hui, j’ai compris que je demandais bien la permission, non pas à ma thérapeute, mais à toutes celles et ceux qui sont entrelacé·e·s au sein même de la violence dont je veux traiter. Aborder cette violence et sa transmission à travers ce corps poreux, rongé par le traumatisme, auquel nous sommes toutes et tous rattaché·e·s, pourrait entraîner la reconnaissance de choses qu’ils et elles refusent de reconnaître ; des choses que les générations d’avant ont enterrées afin de se relever et de continuer à vivre. En cette période révolutionnaire, je suis confrontée aux hiérarchies de ce qui peut être appelé violence et de celles et ceux qui sont libres de l’appeler ainsi. Dans le même temps, j’assiste néanmoins à l’effondrement de ces hiérarchies, de toutes parts et en plusieurs endroits, sur l’initiative de jeunes femmes visionnaires, iraniennes et kurdes, et celle de leurs allié·e·s. D’une manière plus tangible que jamais, j’ai ressenti le pouvoir de nommer et de traiter les choses, et afin de tirer parti de cet élan depuis ma propre position, je franchis le seuil.

 "این فیلم نمایشگر غیاب نامگذاری و اشاره است، غیابی که در آن خانه فریاد میکشد. کمپوت زردآلوی مادر حاصل دو فضا است، یکی دیالوگی خودمانی، و دیگری لحظه تنهایی. درهردومورد چیزی سنگین ناگفته باقی میماند.

در طول دو سال ساخت این فیلم از روانکاوم می پرسیدم: چطور درباره خشونت حرف بزنم؟ منظورم خود عمل خشونت نیست، بلکه آن چیزی است که به مبلمان خانه میپیچد، از بدن ها عبور میکند، و خود را در لرزه های مقطعی نشان میدهد. ما به پاسخی نرسیدیم چون سوال من واضح نبود. روانکاوم فکر میکرد من دنبال اجازه هستم و من فکر میکردم به دنبال یک زبان هستم. خارج از جلسات تراپی، و هنگام گفتگو با بدن های جمعی بینا نسلی و بینا مرزی هم نوعی فقر زبانی وجود داشت. برای همین من از نثر حرف زدم، از دیوارها، از پوست، و از روزها. نبودن راه خروج. من دور خودم چرخیدم. حالا میفهمم که من به دنبال اجازه میگشتم—نه از روانکاوم ولی از آنها که به بدنه خشونتی که میخواستم از آن حرف بزنم دوخته شده بودند.

گفتن از خشونت و مسیر عبور آن ازین بدن بحران دیده که ما بخشی از آنیم، منوط به پذیرش چیزهایی است که نمیخواهند پذیرفته شوند؛ چیزهایی که نسل های پیش از ما در خاک مدفون کردند تا بتوانند به زندگیشان ادامه دهند. در این لحظه انقلابی من با این پرسش درباره قدرت روبرو هستم که چه چیزی خشونت نامیده میشود و چه کسی میتواند آن را نامگذاری کند. اما در همین حین من شاهد فروریختن سلسله مراتب قدرت ازهمه سو توسط ایرانیان جوان روشن بین و زنان کرد و کسانی که در همبستگی با آنها ایستاده اند نیز هستم.

اینبار، قدرت اسم گذاری و اشاره را ملموس تر از همیشه احساس کردم و برای ادامه دادن این شتاب رو به جلو، از آستانه ای جدید عبور میکنم."

 
Nia Fekri

PARISA AMINOLAHI
پریسا امین‌اللهی

 
 
 
IMG_2333.jpg

Away (2013, 15')

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Away 

(2013)

 

Parisa Aminolahi (Tehran, Iran) based in the Netherlands since 2008, is a freelance filmmaker, photographer and painter. She studied theatre stage design (BA) and animation (MA) at University of Art in Tehran and documentary filmmaking (MA) at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her work covers a spectrum of themes such as displacement, exile, homeland, family and childhood memories, utilizing childhood and old family photographs, self‐portraits and her own family members as her subjects. Her mediums range from photography, documentary filmmaking, animation, painting and mixed media. 

She is grant recipient of The Firecracker Photographic Grant, The Netherlands Film Fund, GUP New Dutch Photography Talent of the year, One World Media Student Film Bursary and the Chevening Scholarship. Her dummy book, Tehran Diary, was shortlisted for the MACK First Book Award 2021, BUP Book Award 2020 and PHmuseum 2019 Women Photographers Grant. She had screenings and exhibitions locally and internationally.

Parisa Aminolahi is represented by Ag Galerie, Iran.

Away tells the story of a young couple who move from Iran to the Netherlands. The woman tries to explore the new environment and adapt herself to it. However, the contrast between where they came from and where they now live, their isolation and being away from family and friends, made the woman dispirited and homesick. The memories and nostalgia for her country encourage the woman to abandon reality and instead to sleep and live in her dreams but a peculiar phenomenon threatens her life...

The project is partly photos, partly film.

 

Away raconte l’histoire d’un jeune couple iranien partant vivre aux Pays-Bas. La femme tente de s’approprier son nouvel environnement et de s’adapter à sa nouvelle vie. Mais alors qu’elle se retrouve isolée, séparée de sa famille et de ses ami·es, les différences avec son pays natal ont raison de son moral et la rendent malade. Sous la pression de la nostalgie et des souvenirs, elle préfère délaisser la réalité pour le sommeil, et vivre par procuration dans ses rêves. Mais sa vie est menacée par un phénomène inquiétant…

Away داستان یک زوج جوان است که از ایران به هلند مهاجرت میکنند. زن سعی‌ می‌کند خودش را با شرایط جدید وفق دهد، اما تضاد بین جایی‌ که از آن آمده و جایی‌ که امروز زندگی‌ می‌کند، انزوا و دوری از خانواده و دوستان، او را افسرده و دلتنگ کرده است. خاطرات و احساس غربت ناشی‌ از دوری از وطن، زن را به سمت دل کندن از واقعیت پیش برده، و در دنیای خواب و رویا سر می‌کند، .. تا وقتی‌ که ناگهان یک پدیده عجیب زندگی‌ او را تهدید می‌کند، ..

بخشی از این پروژه از عکس و بخش دیگر از فیلم تهیه شده است.

Parisa Aminolahi
shirin-neshat-piccadilly-1666368174.png
Essay

The Commodification of Jin, Jiyan, Azadi (Woman, Life, Freedom) by Art Institutions in the West


by Pegah Pasalar, Katayoon Barzegar and Niloufar Nematollahi

 

 

This writing of this text was spurred by the revolutionary desires currently shaping the political landscape in Iran. It initially took the form of a conversation between visual artist Katayoon Barzegar and filmmaker Pegah Pasalar, as a part of an event initiated by Barzegar, together with Saina Salarian, and Niloufar Nematollahi, held in November at Available and the Rat, an independent art space in Rotterdam.

The event began with a screening of the short documentary Iranian Women's Liberation Movement: Year Zero (Le mouvement de libération des femmes iraniennes: année zero) by Sylvina Boissonnas, Michelle Muller, Sylviane Rey, and Claudine Mulard – French feminists who, on the invitation of a local women's committee, were in Tehran for International Women's Day in 1979, and filmed the protests that exploded when Ruhollah Khomeini announced mandatory veiling for women on March 7th. The following text – a denunciation of the commodification we have witnessed over the last couple of months of the new Woman, Life, Freedom movement – is adapted from that conversation, and is a collaboration between Barzegar, Pasalar and Nematollahi.

 

*

 

At the beginning, we did not have the language to describe what we were witnessing on our screens, what we were hearing from loved ones through these screens. Words could not do justice to what was happening on the streets all over Iran: protests that rapidly transformed into a movement, then an uprising, manifestations of a desire for *revolution *: something we had      been moving towards for years and had sometimes expressed through silence, and at others times by crying out against an oppressive regime. Without suitable language, the only compasses through which we could navigate the revolution were the bodies depicted in the images emerging from it; the bodies we witnessed on the streets: standing, running, lying dead, dancing, and setting fire to their scarves chanting Jin, Jiyan, AzadiZan, Zendegi, Azadi.

 

*

 

On September 16, Jina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was murdered in Tehran following her arrest by Iran’s Morality Police for wearing “improper” hijab. At her burial, Jina’s mother determinately chanted Jin, Jiyan, Azadi: words that emerged from the anti-capitalist anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal, and anti-colonial Kurdish Women’s Movement – words that have, for decades, been mobilised in their fight against state violence and patriarchal systems of oppression. The chant, which translates as Zan, Zendegi, Azadi in Farsi, and Woman, Life, Freedom in English, has come to stand for the revolution, and solidarity with it, in Iran and internationally.

In the spirit of the rebellious, fearlessness, and courage shown by those leading the revolution, and its radical highlighting of the intersections between gender, class and ethnicity, we – a group of artists – feel it important to address an overdue need for western art institutions, as well media and the academy, to diverge from and diversify static stereotypical depictions of women in Iran. This tendency has come to the fore in the past few weeks; its most striking manifestation is the overrepresentation by art institutions of the work of Shirin Neshat. Born in Qazvin in 1957, and based in New York, Neshat is a visual artist whose practice consists of photographs, experimental and narrative film that revolve around the image of Iranian women. She is represented by the Gladstone Gallery in New York and Brussels, and the Goodman Gallery in London, Johannesburg, and Cape Town with solo exhibitions at powerful art institutions ranging from the Whitney Museum of American Art (1998) to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2006).[1] For decades, western art institutions have positioned Neshat as the Iranian woman artist par excellence; over the past couple of months, she has become the appointed – and self-appointed – face of the revolution. We look more closely at Neshat’s practice in order to point to the broader discourse in which her imagery functions, and to highlight the harm that the reproduction of this imagery does to the representation of Iranian women on the ground; a kind of harm that is the product of the entanglements of orientalism, western institutional dominance and the Islamic Republic’s visual rhetoric – the same Islamic Republic against which people all over Iran are protesting.

 

 

1.

 

Since the start of the revolution, access to the internet in Iran has been shaky, as controlling the amount and kind of information that exits the country is one of the means by which the Islamic Republic exerts its power. In order to counter the internet blackout and echo the voices of their loved ones and communities in Iran, members of the Iranian diaspora have taken to Twitter and Instagram, sharing hashtags of the names of people the Islamic Republic has either arrested or killed or sentenced to death, up-to-date figures on these arrests and murders, as well as images and videos of these causalities, and protestors on the streets. The image of the single young woman figure with a covered face and long, unveiled hair, setting alight to her compulsory veil, became emblematic of the beginning of the revolution.

It took a few days for the world to see the image of this woman burning the symbol of her oppression, and later, many like her, holding hands with other women, dancing around fires across the country [see figures 1 and 2]. The erasure of Iranian women’s struggles from the mainstream media in the West has various roots. “Progressive” white feminists remained silent for an extended period of time, to make sure that supporting protestors in Iran did not acquaint to Islamophobia; elsewhere, right-wing political parties and conservative media took Iranian women’s act of burning compulsory veils out of context, inserting the Iranian women’s struggle into their own racist and anti-Islam rhetoric.[2] When the voices of Iranians, inside and outside of the country, finally became loud enough to push Western media – already hostile to the inclusion of the people’s struggle against the Islamic Republic – to cover events, the images brought forward of the Iranian people, and more specifically Iranian women, often did not align with the realities of resistance on the ground. The insufficiency of this coverage further reinforced the desire felt by many Iranians to disseminate images that are multi-layered, nuanced and align more closely with the realities on the ground, leading to the creation of social media content as well as  artworks, events, films screenings, and the emergence of critical conversations between different communities of diaspora Iranians and people inside Iran. 

 

2.

 

In October 2022, a digital work by Shirin Neshat, commissioned by The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Art (CIRCA) was displayed on the digital billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus as a gesture of solidarity with the people in Iran. In the image, “Woman, Life, Freedom,” appears in white lettering, in English as well as Farsi, running along the top of Moon Song, a photograph Neshat took in the 1990s. In it, the artist’s open palms – one decorated with arabesque-like calligraphy, the other with paisley, an ancient Persian motif – hold two bullets, as if to reveal a truth [see figure 3]

 

This image is part of Women of Allah, a series of black-and-white photographs made between 1993 and ‘97 that includes self-portraits and portraits of other women in chadors holding a gun or flowers in their hands; women whose feet and hands are decorated in calligraphy, in either Arabic or Farsi. To a Western audience, the calligraphy is illegible and serves a purely decorative function; to an Iranian audience, the combination of Arabic Koran verses and poems by the pioneering woman poet Forough Farokhzad, is a contradiction: it is unclear whether Neshat is positing a connection or a disjunction between radical poetry and the Koran, so the choice appears to be aesthetic rather than conceptual. Neshat created these images after returning from her first trip to Iran since she had left the country before the revolution of 1979, the year the Islamic Republic was created and the hijab became mandatory. During her visit – her first and last since – Neshat was shocked to find her country out of synch with the memories she held from before the Revolution.[3] Neshat has said that this confrontation with the image of this new militant, covered Iranian women left her feeling confused: a confusion that mounted to fascination, though we argue that Neshat’s fascinations borders on fetishisation, as evidenced by the abundance of similar imagery she has produced ever since.[4] In Neshat’s imagery, the passiveness of women towards the compulsory veil as a concrete form of oppression is expressed through its orientalist eroticisation: the figure hides defeated and passively yet playfully behind her veil as she taps into the patriarchal colonial dream of unveiling the colonised woman. The Islamic Republic is a state whose ideology and survival is contingent upon the construction of the image of the veiled Iranian woman as a prominent part of its political discourse.

 

If you look at Neshat’s photographic practice, you won’t see any notable change or shift in the way she represents Iranian women since the production of this series of photographs. These images merely reproduce the Islamic Republic’s propaganda of the nineties, a decade marked by the state’s attempt to reinforce its ideology following the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, by glorifying martyrdom as the essence of Shi’ite Islam [see figure 4].

 

In the Piccadilly Circus image, the slogan Zin, Ziyan, Azadi is commodified and severed from its roots. It has been superimposed onto a image that did not emerge from the current revolution. undoubtedly compromising and even contradicting the message defiant Kurdish and Iranian women are sending out to the world. Institutions in the west who use this pioneering chant and merge it with orientalist imagery as a way to aestheticise the struggle of these women – who, until recently, did not exist in their eyes – are complicit in the erasure of the nuances that characterise the demands of the protestors putting their lives at risk.

 

Of course, the commodification of political movements has precedent as a capitalist tool, which empties politics (in this case inherently anti-capitalist and anti-state) of their context and meaning, allowing them to be co-opted back in the system. The Kurdish Women’s resistance movement was acutely aware of the fact that the state exerts power over minority populations by using the oppressive mechanism of the capitalist economy, which has always pushed Kurds and other minority groups out of it, shoving them into the reserve workforce and keeping these regions poor in order to reduce their political agency.[5] The exertion of power over minorities is concretised by the entanglements of global capitalism and state oppression – anti-state ideology only holds, therefore, when it is also anti-capitalist. The meaning of the chant is erased when attached to a giant billboard without further explanation. Kurdish sociologist and writer Dilar Dirik articulated this beautifully when she spoke at the International Women’s conference in Berlin, saying:

 

“At the same time as we see a rise in women's liberation struggles, we see how liberalism is imposed on women's struggles as the safest and most viable option for equality and change. We see today that radical revolutionary slogans and symbols increasingly become commodified, mass-produced, emptied of their meaning, and sold back in plastic to the same people that gave their life creating these values.”[6]

 

Even though the commodification of a specific “political” aesthetic might not directly result in increased capital for the artist and the institution reproducing this imagery, the performance of progressive politics is no doubt beneficial for their reputation and results in increased fame that leads to real capital.

 

This is not to say that revolutionary aesthetics and chants should not be reproduced. Art can of course be a powerful vessel in which to carry personal or collective perspectives on social, political, and cultural matters.  But as artists in the diaspora one needs to acknowledge their distance from and disjuncture with the core of the political field from which Jin, Jiyan, Azadi emerged in Kurdistan.

 

In the midst of the scarcity of representation in the public space, the media and the art world, some Iranians may have felt relief seeing the grand display of Neshat’s work: finally, an image that refers directly to the revolution is on display in the public space of a major western city. For others, seeing this display resulted in feelings of disappointment and rage: again, a static stereotype, an archaic image of a Muslim woman whose body is decorated with illegible Farsi or Arabic Calligraphy is being reproduced by Western discourses as the only representation of Iranian women. Prior to the revolution, artists’ communities inside Iran and in the diaspora had already been outspoken about their scepticism towards Neshat’s work and success, but these critiques had never become public in the way we are witnessing now.[7]

But while Neshat’s depiction of the imaginaries and struggles of Iranian women hasn’t  changed drastically since the nineties, in Iran the ways in which women represent themselves have metamorphosed as they are channelled through Tiktok, Instagram, and Twitter. Via these platforms we have seen queer couples kissing on the main squares of Iranian cities [see figure 5]; girls covering their faces, exposing their bodies and standing in the streets with their skin marked by Jin, Jiyan, Azadi written in lipstick, and videos of women singing, dancing, and laughing loudly. It seems suspect that an artist would insist on perpetuating a fixed, one-sided image of Iranian women, insisting on this as the hidden truth behind an area, culture, and society. What do Neshat’s images refer to besides a temporal personal experience, often formulated through self-orientalisation?

 

 

3.

 

On October 29, Klaus Biesenbach, the director of the Neue Nationalgalerie and a major player in elite art circles, posted an image of a banner hanging at the front of his museum in Berlin. On it is a self-portrait by Shirin Neshat created in 1993 as part of her “Unveiling” series, on which the slogan Woman, Life, Freedom has also been superimposed. The image was selected by the museum to bring Iranian artists together for an event of performance in front of the museum. Later, Biesenbach posted an image of Neshat in front of the museum, referring to her as the leader of the Iranian women’s movement. Biesenbach’s actions were met with a backlash as Iranians took to the Neue Nationalgalerie to protest. One protestor held a cardboard banner that read: “Hey Mister Biesenbach, stop capitalizing on the struggle of people in Iran” [see figure 6 and 7].

This self-portrait, and the photographs belonging to the Women of Allah series, starkly resemble the images of women the Islamic Republic has put forward in order to justify its political discourse: images of armed women covered in chador, the same images, we, as women who grew up in Iran, were forced to identify with at school, at work and in the public arena, so as not to be met with the violence of the “morality police” and other bodies of state oppression.

Neshat’s understanding of Iran, after the creation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, came from a rather short visit, not residence. Her understanding of the day-to-day living situation in Iran must have come to her second hand through news, cinema, and reflections on Iran, produced by either the Iranian state itself or mainstream Western media sources and her family. Any woman living in Iran across different generations has had interactions with the morality police. Despite the fact that the segment of the state police that specifically focusses on the policing of bodies, and the spread of “morality” in Iranian society, changes its strategies and name every couple days, at first being referred to as komite and later as gasht-e-ershad (“the morality patrol”), the ideology behind this state body has remained the same, and every woman in Iran has been brutally confronted with the ideology. The morality police does not simply represent a body that rules the public space, but a concept that exerts power through the policing of women’s bodies. The morality police is the patriarchal psyche promoted by the regime that extends to the private realms of the home, to schools, universities and the work place. Women in Iran could not be represented beyond the codes of modesty rigidly defined by the state, and embodied by its women officers. Under the oppressive rule of the Islamic Republic, the only real image of women’s bodies, of our aunts, mothers, friends, and sisters, were created in the private sphere and kept safely in our family albums. In the collective Iranian mind, the images of women with black chadors and guns represent the morality police, censorship, and the policing of our bodies. The “Iranian woman” constructed by the Islamic Republic and the images of women Neshat creates look painfully similar.

Whereas Neshat engaged in the reproduction of state-ordained symbols, filmmakers and artists in Iran found and invented novel tactics to counter the state’s imagery: creative ways to bring all the things deemed immoral by the state onto the screen. As women’s sexuality, her presence in the public realm without a hijab, and touching a person of the opposite sex, is prohibited and punished, filmmakers and artists have communicated eroticism through signifiers including the stroking of another person’s feet, images of closed doors, one character touching something that had been previously touched by the object of their desire, and the prolonged gaze.

Living in Iran, we were confronted with Neshat’s images for the first time in the noughties, thanks to the arrival of the internet. Later, as students at art school, we were largely united in our feelings of disconnection from her and the women she depicted, who didn’t remind us of anyone. She was not like us, nor our mothers, sisters, or grandmothers. Was she part of the Islamic Republic military, with her gun and pitch-black chador? Or did she embody the region we were taught to refer to as “the middle-east,” with her thick black cat-eye eyeliner? Was she “the Muslim Iranian women,” supporters of the Islamic Republic had told us about in school – the woman we were never moral and pure enough to be? This vagueness grants her works a “universal” quality that makes her images confusing to Iranian audiences but appealing to the western art world. But how could this decorative unknown identity be read as universal? Now that we have the experience of studying and working in artistic and academic institutions in the west, now that we have felt the violence of orientalism as women of colour, we know that another orientalist tool is the creation of perennial images that lead to the reinforcement of racialised stereotypes and the flattening of the identities of a large population.

 

The issue at stake here is not only the racial stereotypes Neshat reinforces or the question of whether or not she, as an Iranian woman who does not have the experience of life under the Islamic Republic, is in a position to apply these visual elements in her work, but the disconnect between Neshat’s images and the images currently coming out of Iran. This disconnect once again raises the question of why Neshat’s works should be reproduced under the banner of Jin, Jiyan, Azadi.


In the context of an article published on Hyperallergic that spoke to these criticisms – and featured  responses by Barzegar and Pasalar – Neshat responded  by accusing the publication of being “no different than the Islamic Republic of Iran” and engaging in “cancel culture” by amplifying this pushback. She also rejected some activists’ claims that she is profiting from the circulation of these images.

 

4.

 

Iranian Women's Liberation Movement: Year Zero (1979), the film we showed at the event from which this text was written, documents the women who took to the streets to demand their rights on International Women’s Day, March 8th 1979; communities of women from different generations who organised mass demonstrations in many cities in Iran to oppose the compulsory hijab mandate. The protest at Tehran University held that day was the first public protest since the revolution, and continued for six days. These women chanted “Iranian women won’t be chained”. The protests were not supported by political parties or by the broader public – the dominant perception at the time was that there were more important issues to focus on than the veil, and other sacrifices to be made. The national media did not cover the demonstrators depicted in Year Zero, who were faced with violence from fanatic religious men and members of the paramilitary. But this flame of resistance never died out. There has always been a collective resistance bolstered by the many women’s organisations that have tried to gather, write, and talk about these issues. Alongside women’s movements, some individual acts of resistance have disrupted state ideologies in the public sphere.

 

This long and unheard history goes back to before the Islamic revolution. It can be traced back to 1817 when a known Bahaaii woman [note: Bahaii is a religious minority that is heavily oppressed by the Islamic Republic] called Tahirih Qurrat al-Eyn’ refused the veil; the sound of the resistance to veiling became powerful with the constitutional revolution in 1905, in which many women activists, and organisations played an important role; women who have been erased from mainstream historiographies of the constitutional revolution.
 

In 1994, Homa Darabi – a doctor and professor who was politically active before the 1979 revolution and who, after the creation of the Islamic Republic, was fired from the University of Tehran and the National University (now known as Shahid Beheshti University) for wearing improper hijab and breaking morality laws – self-immolated by pouring petrol over her head. She was devastated by the results of the revolution which she had fought for.

More recently, women protesters who call themselves Dokhtarane Khiabane Enghelab (“Daughters of Revolution Street"), took to the streets of Tehran in 2017 after Vida Movahed stood on a utility box in a crowded street named Enghelab (“revolution” in Farsi) with her white hijab removed, waving it like a flag. This act encouraged a vast number of women to do the same thing in different streets and cities, on the metro, on the bus, and in other public spaces surveilled by the state’s watchful eye. Soon, a wave of women took to the public sphere without their compulsory veils, resulting in the Islamic Republic’s police forces beating and arresting women.

Our battle is multi-fold and did not spring up overnight: it is a battle fought on the streets, as well as in the media, academia, and the art world, against the Islamic Republic, which has entrapped us within the confines of the image that occupies the core of its patriarchal Islamofascist ideology. The dynamic, fluid, ever-metamorphosing images of Iranian women are a sharp contrast to the static and unnuanced art work reproduced again and again by western art institutions. 

[1] A list of all of Neshat’s exhibitions can be found here: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/shirin-neshat

[2] Besides performative acts of hair-cutting by right-wing politicians, there were other, more subtle, examples of this trend. For example, in September, the French newspaper Le Monde placed a statement written by Iranian feminists living in the West against forced veiling in Iran, next to an article that conveyed the message that veiling is inherently oppressive for all women. The latter was obviously targeted towards Muslim communities in France, and elided the essential nuance of whether the person  wearing the veil chose to do so or if the veiling was imposed on them by the state. This juxtaposition is a function of right-wing anti-hijab discourses.

[3] See her TED talk.

[4] Ibid.

[5] This includes Bahaiee and Baluch people of Iran. Baluchs have suffered equal number of deaths to Kurds in the past three months. Baluch and Kurds are Sunni which makes them a religious and ethnic minority.

[6] https://womenweavingfuture.org/programm-2022

[7] See Mojgan Khosravi’s thesis; Instagram stories and posts expressing these feeling about Neshat’s work long circulated in diaspora communities and in Iran.

5

3

1

2

4

6

bottom of page