This performance piece was first developed in an artist residency in South Africa, conceptualized by artist William Kentridge, by bringing together curators, performing artists, musicians, and visual artists, in the spirit of exploration and collaboration. 
During this time I developed my interest in shadowplay for storytelling. Together with my collaborators, I developed a piece where dancers and shadows interact together to tell a story. The work was accompanied by traditional music and personal stories told by my mother and aunt. My aunt speaks of her lavish life in Iran, her move to rural eSwatini, putting away her high heel shoes, and her happiness in her decision to migrate: “I really have no regret.”
The work was developed just as Mahsa Jina Amini was killed by the Morality Police in Iran in September 2022, and the country erupted into a woman-led revolution. The work, therefore, had to speak to the current moment in Iran. Women were (and continue to) be determined in their bravery and willingness to sacrifice everything for freedom. The work speaks to the history of persecution of minorities, from the perspective of my mother and aunt to the women, men, and children who have lost their lives from the beginning of the ‘79 revolution, till last week. The piece concludes with dancers and shadows moving to liberation-protest chants recorded in Iran, and referencing whirling Sufi dervish dancers. It speaks to the spiritual battle and journey we are on. We performed in October 2022.
I had the opportunity to develop the work again in New York City through Culture Lab LIC’s Anonymously from Iran exhibition. I invited New York-based, Iranian performers to reimagine the work with me. The music transformed from indigenous African sounds to classical Persian piano. And I was able to work with three talented dancers. The work has developed further with the lighting, a color pallet, and the scale of the shadow and interplay into the narrative. We performed in March 2023.
A huge thank you to the Center for the Less Good Idea team, the co-curators for Season 9, Mandla Mbothwe and Athena Mazarakis for creating the space for the work to be conceptualized and realized. And the team of South African performers I was honored to work with: 
Performers | Thulisile Binda, Muzi Shili & Sibahle Mangena
Musician | Cara Stacey 
Director | Bongile Gorata Lecoge-Zulu
Photos by Zivena Zivanai Matang
Thank you to Culture Lab LIC for bringing the work to New York City as part of the Anonymously from Iran exhibition, in 2023. Tess Howsam and Shabnam Salehezadeh for doing everything in their power to make this work possible. And for my amazing team: 
Performers | Sofia Mahdavi, Camille Rivkah Nemoz & Tina Bararian
Musician | Shayan Azizi
Sound/Lighting tech |  Salma Malhas 
Photos & video by Emily Massey

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