Maria Kheirkhah’s mute belly dance

March 15, 2009

I saw Maria Kheirkhah‘s artwork ‘Dancing in the Village’ (a part of the ‘Portraits of a belly dancer’ explorations) two days ago at the exhibition L(..)king at Others in Art pavilion.

It’s a two channel video, actually a documentation of her performance from 2006 when she was listening on her iPod belly dance music performing belly dance in front of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.

maria_kheirkhan_1.jpgStill from Dancing in the Village by M. Kheirkhah (c)

Maria Kheirkhah has been proclaimed over the last few years as one of the most provocative and intriguing new conceptual artists, artistically raised on the gap among two cultures: East and West.

Iranian-born, and now London based artist expresses herself at the intersections of several mediums: video, photography, performance and installation art. She studied sculpture at the University of Central England and Surrey Institute of Art and Design.

maria_kheirkhan_2.jpgStill from Dancing in the Village by M. Kheirkhah (c)

After her graduation at the end of 80’s she left UK for native Iran where she was teaching for several years at Alzahra University and The Academy of Arts in Tehran. At the beginning of 90’s she decided to come back to UK, and since then she participates regularly at many international exhibitions.

maria_kheirkhan_6.jpg Portraits of the Suspect by M. Kheirkhah (c)

In her works she explores “the issues of national identity, the media’s promulgation of cultural stereotypes and the Western world’s historically entrenched prejudices towards ‘other’.” (Cherry Smyth)

maria_kheirkhan_5.jpgIn Love with a Red Wall by M. Kheirkhah (c)

Yeah, I can bet you see parallels with many amazing female artists from East like Mona Hatoum, Marjane Satrapi, Ghazel or Zaha Hadid, to name a few… being deeply in love with their culture and civilization but not accepting social limitations demanded by their society based on traditional rulez… i don’t think we even talk here about social aspects, but more a sort of emotional, mental and physical surveillance.

maria_kheirkhan_3.jpgStill from Dancing in the Village by M. Kheirkhah (c)

‘The performative works see the artist employing her own body to map out instances of trauma, memory and spatial navigation. Dealing with the personal rather than the explicitly political, the works are charged with issues relating to identity politics, though are not the result of a process of making visible a critical, theoretical or literary position, but rather inflected with many influences, often in an oblique or subliminal way.’

maria_kheirkhan_4.jpgStill from Dancing in the Village by M. Kheirkhah (c)

‘The visual journey that she carries out implies a unique approach to the poetics of immediacy within the discourse of feminist practices, both actual and assumed, principally defying stereotyped notions of mild and subdued ‘feminine’ or ‘feminised’ approaches concerning gender and ethnicity’.’ (C. Smyth)

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