Tabalvour by Sara Niroobakhsh
performance documentation video
year created: 2020
“The video is the documentation for my most recent performance which happened at a performance art venue at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago while my body crystallized In a terracotta pot holding hot saturated sodium borate liquid and saffron. With a cultural reference to the clay vessel coffin which used to be practiced as a burial method during the Elamite period in my region in 2000 BC, I decided to rebuild the terracotta coffin idea as a symbol of birth and a symbol of death - a vessel of passage. I experienced each stage of interaction with the material differently. When the substance got in touch with my skin, it felt rough and hot; after 30 minutes, a thick covering of crystals began to form on my skin; an hour later, the real fight began: skin burn and extreme discomfort throughout my head and body. After two hours of agony and pain that I remained firm and stable inside the vessel, the substance stimulated my skin and gradually created dendritic crystals. At the conclusion of the event, the vessel was smashed with a hammer, the liquid was released, and my crystalline saffron body emerged.”
Image Description: Still photo from performance of artist inside a ceramic pot that is partially broken. Artist skin is red in color from the crystals. Pot is white ceramic against a stage floor.
Sara Niroobakhsh is an Iranian-born artist, internationally established for her performative and visual concepts that engage the globalizing feminine psyche. Working in video, photography, painting, and found objects, the inner dialogue of a woman’s duty versus desire is a theme that threads through all my works. Her performance-based photography series, Rainfall, which received a Banff Centre Residency Award and debuted at Art Space Hamra in Beirut in 2015, illustrates the silent dance between the banal and the mystical that takes place in ordinary women’s work. In The Party, one of her latest installations at Gallery 44, supported by an Ontario Arts Council Grant, ritual becomes an artistic tool to engage Iranian archetypes of womanhood and social narratives of self. Using tea trays to reference the cultural workings of Iranian hospitality or Taarof, the piece asks us to reflect on the simultaneous elevation and erasure of self that defines acts of service. Recent exhibitions of her artworks have been held at the Czech China Contemporary Museum in Beijing, South Korea’s CICA Museum, Spartanburg Art Museum and her last two solo exhibitions in Canada, a performance-based series, Zaghareet, at Varley Art Gallery of Markham in summer 2019 and a performance installation art project, I, Saffron at Goldfarb Study Centre Gallery at York University in winter 2019. Sara’s work evokes the feminine realm as she draws from the personal, mythological, and cultural to originate on themes of beauty, isolation, creativity, and fertility.
Frame: Digital presentation at https://vimeo.com/490588476
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