KH Künstler:innenhaus Bremen


Fragments towards a Story or, Notes on Shirin Mohammad’s “rebellion of the slogans”

Ashkan Sepahvand

Shirin Mohammad, rebellion of the slogans, Exhibition view, Künstlerhaus Bremen, Photo: Fred Dott

how to speak alongside a performative practice?
working towards a mode of storytelling, to speak an other story
the story of the Other in a musical space
does this become a political theater?
song, voice, rhythm, the beat all converge
the difference between:
a state instrument
an instrument of state
state instrumentalization
there is sound "in the round"
encircled, enveloped, revolving: revolution

to start from a domestic space, a home
also known as "the world of the women"
remember: how to proceed means how to return, turn back, turn around
"emerging wisdom from the women," or
those who know there is something to know in nothing
after revolution: the problem of an "after"
there is a difference between archive and repertoire (elaborate)
between the text and the body
between memory and gesture
there is always a negotiation between the historical record
and the somatic score, especially from the position of the defeated
"death to business as usual," or, the banality of Zeitgeist
call and response: the (im)possibility of revolution
dissent and mysticism, in which the ordinary becomes magical

there is a kitchen in the corner, the sofreh (spread) is laid out, the performers are about to start, this is an uncanny "dinner theater"

there are trays stacked, a fire burns in the background, a metaphorical hearth, the inferno that erupts from the spirit of youth, these are the flamethrowers

isn't music just the sound of time's movement in space?

how does signification slip underneath its signifier?
the "catastrophic transubstantiation" of everyday objects
a signifying chain between people, places, and things
both translation as well as transformation of the symbolic
these are the workings of the repertoire
how it moves towards imaginary embodiment
in, of, and because of the Other:
women, queers, not-men, not-Man, the creaturely

fragmented slogans, the appropriation of mourning
to resist the capture of generative mourning by a destructive force
you shall not have our grief, you shall not steal our tears!
"a new dance will emerge," this is the mystery
the dance is always in becoming
revolution is a cyclical movement in time
time turns back around upon itself
it folds, it loops, it returns
what if...the revolution never happened?
when is an after? what is an after?
("apocalypse AND/OR metamorphosis")


re-articulating the prophetic mode of history
a movement of revealing and concealing
internally meta-political
beyond politics, beyond the city (polis)
"get over the city"
"no cities, no books"
the revolution comes from elsewhere, it is against place
they revolt in the city against the city
they turn towards the geographical margins
the peripheral territories, the borderlands, the limit
"the end of the world is the beginning of earth"


stone placeholders keep the sofreh in place
are they the guests? the people have turned into stone
the figurines are "empty-handed"
the stones listen to the song
the stones are about to watch the show
it all takes place in the ruins, language in ruins
kharaabaat as poetic trope
the ruin/wasteland as signifier of this world, a trace of the mystical tradition
a fabulous genre, a "critical confabulation" of the Other
"the wretched of the earth" (duzakhian rooye zamin)
dispossessed hellishes
what does it mean to survive hell?
how do the hellishes get used to it?
what if hell is (on) earth?

the materiality of the work: things in place of people
how to work with(in) revolution?
its some-things and its no-things
what is left behind, what is let go?
queer failures and women's movements
the women are still revolting
the women will have revolted
forget the prophet, instead, remember the sibyl
SHE communes with the earth
SHE communicates through riddles and mystery
her voice, her body
it is bodily, this is HER
"queer use" = uselessness

an elemental romance, in which
the children have grown up, hope has transformed them into fire
the stones sit down at the spread
the women are coming out of the kitchen
the figurines have started their play
the feast begins, it has always been there
an occasion elsewhere, not-yet
the sibyl's vision arrives
the banality of the times shall be sacrificed
it must die, it is a gift
the repertoire of the Other fills the space
bodies will have been here
heretics, against orthodoxy
"the ceremony must be found"
to resist ortho-praxis

Ashkan Sepahvand is an artist, writer, and researcher. He was born in Tehran, Iran, grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and lives and works mostly in Berlin, Germany. His practice takes time. He is interested in words and bodies. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.

This contribution is part of Shirin Mohammad "rebellion of the slogans"

Kindly supportet by Stiftung Kunstfonds in the special funding program NEUSTART KULTUR of the federal government comissioner for culture and the media, Karin und Uwe Hollweg Stiftung and Freundes- und Förderkreis der HfK Bremen

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