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In Performance: Sorour Darabi, Farci.e (Wiener Festwochen)


Sorour Darabi

June 5-6 2019

Wiener Festwochen

How does language encounter our bodies? What happens when our unexplainable being collides with insufficient and colonialist linguistic frameworks? Farcie is the French word for stuffed. Sorour Darabi is an Iranian artist. While studying in France and learning to speak French he*she was troubled by the incessant need to gender objects and people in the French language, a construct that does not exist in the same way in his*her native Farsi. This performance created by Sorour Darabi is a material study of the way that language penetrates us, fills us, and how this bodily encounter transforms us and transforms language.

We enter a white room with a white table, white chair, two bottles of water, and a ream of paper with blue ink on it. After a moment, a figure moves across space towards us, every movement is staccato and arduous. After some time the he*she reaches us and greets us with “Hallo”. This is one of two spoken words in the performance, both are in German, a clue that both languages can be capable of this simultaneous violence and transmutation. The rest of the words exist in their material form– ink and paper.

He*She opens the first bottle of water and takes some into his*her mouth. After a moment he*she lets the water dribble out and onto the paper. The ink smears and Darabi moves it around the paper, creating a great indistinguishable blue blob. The ink gets on his*her hands and all over. Over the course of the next 40 minutes, Darabi continues to deconstruct the text with his*her body– the mouth, the tongue, the hands, the face. Darabi licks, smears, crushes, and shreds the pages. The paper is ripped, licked, turned into a cylinder and sucked. The process is at turns violent, grotesque, sensual, and humorous. The lights never go off and Darabi holds our gaze.

Finally, Darabai consumes a great mass of paper and ink. It is painful, but also playful and grotesquely sexual. The artist flicks his*her tongue, smiles, and thanks us. Now the words are literally inside and he*she is transforming them internally through a physical process of degeneration. Through the body language has been transmutated– it is now something fully different.

Photo: Mehrdad Motejalli

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Lyam B. Gabel (they/he) is a trans* performance-maker, scholar, and community archivist who creates containers for collective remembering and radical celebration. They are a founder of trans-media oral history and performance collective LAST CALL, and a director of the NEFA NTP ‘18/ MAP ‘16 performance Alleged Lesbian Activities about the history of lesbian bars. Their current work the dance floor, the hospital room, and the kitchen table exploring queer care from the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis through COVID-19 received a NPN Creation Fund commission with the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center and Chatham University. Other current work includes an AR journey through trans* euphoria and queer ecology and a short film about lip-sync as time travel. He regularly collaborates on and midwifes work by playwrights and solo performers and has developed work at Judson Church, Pipeline, Ashland New Plays Festival, The Theater Offensive, and The New Orleans CAC among others. Lyam is currently an Assistant Professor of theater at Lehigh University. Current Drama League Next Stage Resident, Drama League Fellow 2017, Distillery Artist New Orleans CAC 2016.

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