1965: Amaranth Pink for the State of Iraq; British Mandate for Mesopotamia (1921 - 1932)
Gnossienne, Pantalons, and The Pouncing Lion; Dutch East Indies (1800 - 1942)
Özkent, Latife, and a Lâle From Müteferrika; Turkey, Second Wave Feminism (1980 - )
1952: Camel Soldiers Abandon Claim at the Citadel; Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1899 - 1922)
Crossing the Kutch and Caspian for Malagasy Misao; Franco-Soviet Occupations (1920 - 1991)
Lamps For Fire, Flowers For Frocks (For Frocks Had Spots); Bangladesh, British East India Company (1764 - 1793)
THE INTRINSIC CODE OF LANGUAGE:
LESSONS OF THE SILK ROAD
Multi-projection video installation, color, sound, 30:01 film loop
The Intrinsic Code of Language explores indexes of time where colonized countries along the Silk Road started to Westernize through interventions in fashion: blending modes of culture between the oppressor and party being colonized. Whether this was a subtle imposition to assimilate, rebellion, or a form of oppression, visual metaphors are brought forward in the form of preservation and re-appropriation in focusing on a nation’s women.
My fascination with the Silk Road is universal. Despite the complexities of race, imperial politics, and an imbalanced system of global trade, it is through the invention of hybrid identity itself: language, created forms of tolerance, and empathy that remind me that the Silk Road is a beautiful yet controversial model of diplomacy: a form of keen schematics the Great Game* once succeeded between the most powerful empires of the world. Its existence has allowed for some of the greatest blends of culture today that pride surprising commonalities in cultural invention; and still facilitates transactions, philosophical, economic, and physical between these very "founding" civilizations. This allows us to bond over the gems of antiquity and pain of past strifes in seeking solidified national identities.
By questioning our own complex heritages and upbringing, our very own “Westernization,” as well as finding inspiration in the fashion styles from the maternal sides of our families, six participants represent hybrid identities of the Silk Road where colonial interjections are appropriate. Each international accompaniment is selected by the participant, symbolic of either their own, or family’s favorite song: an ode to tradition despite culturally-changing times. In addition, a study of late 19th century and 20th century portraiture inspired the backdrops, props, and postures which were either chosen by the style of portraits of our own mothers and grandmothers (in which case we wear items that have been passed down to us) or remnant of the portraiture period we are representing.
Through the complexity of the gaze, each of us not only reflect on our own identity, but the core frameworks of our “pluralized” identity today: the threshold of current events that contribute in masking and de-masking nations as being “Islamic.”
Thank you so much to the following ladies whose personal devotion, energy, and passion in this project brought the following portraits to life:
*The Great Game, as coined by curator Okwui Enwezor in referencing the 56th Iran Pavillion at the 56th Venice Biennale:
"The Great Game was an ambitious inaugural project for the organisers, who took on board the Iran Pavilion with over 40 artists participating from Iran and neighbouring countries including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asian Republics and the Kurdish Region, a mass multi media exhibition came together in the old quarters of Venice; commissioned by Majid Mollanorouzi and Deputy Commissioners and co-curators: Marco Menguzzo and Mazdak Faiznia and organised by the Faiznia Family Foundation (FFF) and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art" (2015).
Exhbited at the Olive Tjaden Gallery (April 2016), Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
With support of the Rawlings Presidential Research Scholars Fellowship
Winner of the National Humanities Prize '16, SURA Conference, Stanford University