14 Feb Elysium
Multi Channel Video Installation
Filming: Iran and Naarm
Created in collaboration with: Salme Geransar
Sound Design: Ai Yamamoto
Installation Design and Drone Operation: Ehsan Khoshnami
Elysium (2021) exhibited and was produced for my major solo exhibition entitled Ripples from the Unseen at The Substation 2021.
*Documentation photography by Sarah Walker
Elysium (2021) set in the summer is a direct response to the work Elusive Paradise (2018) set in winter. The symbolism of the rivers, oceans and waters, connects two places but two very different narratives about two women both born in Iran in 1984. One, Salme who migrated to Australia and the other Michka who remained in Iran. Both these women share a mystical garden paradise where their dreams and nightmares unfold.
Elysium charts Salme’s migration story and the cultural contrasts a migrant is exposed to through her childhood gaze. Salme reveals her lived experiences and the challenges of living and working in Australia as a female actor and woman of colour. In parallel, she shares her negative experience of falling victim to a patriarchal law system in Iran that permits the father of the family to call on Iranian authorities to take away the passports of his wife and children under the age of 18, forbidding them to leave the country. While overcoming the trauma of such events and being able to finally leave Iran, she combatted micro aggressions and a narrow and one-sided perception in Australia about the place she was born in.
The smoking of the frankincense highlights a longing to retain traditions and beliefs from the culture Salme left behind. The allegorical symbolism of the relocated bats in Bellbird park echoes an attitude of ‘othering’ where often the diasporic feel themselves pulled towards a ‘colony’ rather than being integrated into the greater society.
The smoke here is a metaphor for the wondering spirit not unlike the one of the Persian Sufi poet and traveller, Rumi, who notes:
Your real ‘country’ is where you are heading
Not where you are (Barks 2004).
Short promotional excerpt from Elusium