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Sussan Deyhim "The House is Black Media" Performance World Premiere, Royce Hall/CAP UCLA-TRAILER

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Published on Jul 5, 2015

The House is Black
The House is Black is Sussan Deyhim’s media-film-performance project, inspired by the works of Forough Farrokhzad, one of Iran’s most influential feminist poets and filmmakers of the 20th Century.
This project seeks to shed light on the importance of progressive Iranian contemporary arts through the vision of two of Iran’s most avant-garde female artists, Forough Farrokhzad and Sussan Deyhim.
Deyhim has created a series of non-linear poetic tableaux inspired by the poems of Forough Farrokhzad. The audience travels through a visual, sonic and theatrical journey into the heart of Forough ‘s prophetic vision where her most intimate, soulful and provocative moments leap off the page and onto the stage. Her message is as poetically and politically relevant today for the women of Iran and the world as it was fifty years ago when she died tragically at the age of 32.
An original score composed by Deyhim and Golden Globe-winning composer Richard Horowitz, featuring brilliant special guests, creates a cinematic musical landscape, including influences rooted in Persian and Western contemporary classical music, jazz and electronic music with an elaborate vocal soundscape and intricate sound design component.
Archival images and scenes from Forough’s documentary The House is Black and Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1965 interview with Forough, along with Deyhim’s original film and visual projections, will create the backdrop and provide a window into the life of Iran’s most controversial poet and filmmaker.
The project has been made possible by a generous grant from the prestigious Los Angeles-based Iranian Farhang Foundation (farhang.org) a residency at CAP UCLA, a residency fellowship at Robert Rauschenbeg Residency/Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, House is Black LLC and generous supporters of The House is Black Indiegogo project.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
For me, the most inspiring aspect of this project is the opportunity to introduce the great work and sensibility of an Iranian female icon to the international community. Many Iranian intellectuals consider Forough a cultural godmother of modernist literature in Iran, but she died so young (at the age of 32) that I also think of her as our cultural daughter. A rebel with a cause.
Forough spoke with awe-inspiring rawness and maturity. She was an existentialist, feminist provocateur. She was Iran’s Simone de Beauvoir, Frida Kahlo, Maya Deren and Patti Smith all rolled into one. Her work has given me the inspiration to continue my own artistic journey during my 30 years in exile from Iran.
Her poetry is the narrative for this project and through it I am able to express some of my deepest feelings and visions about Iran both metaphorically and literally.
Across the piece’s abstract conceptual landscape, I will lead the audience through each tableau in a series of unique interpretations of the various characters from Forough ’s poems, transporting them on an evocative journey to Iran of the 1950’s and back into the present where we need to embrace the universality and humanity of her message more than ever. The score and the sound design are inspired by the poetic and emotional content of each poem to create a moving song cycle within an ambient atmosphere.
With the enormous pressure currently placed on Iranian artists and intellectuals –especially women—Forough’s fight for freedom of artistic and ideological expression remains the central issue of our time 50 years after her death.
–Sussan Deyhim
FROM WORDS, NOT SWORDS
BY FARZANEH MILANI
“Two subjects, gender and space, which Forough Farrokhzad addressed half a century ago, continue to be among the most contentious in contemporary Iran today.
Farrokhzad’s words may not have changed the views of those who believed in traditional divisions between the sexes, but they have raised the discussion to a higher plane. Despite having been both maligned and admired during her lifetime, she has come since her death to inspire a large number of women and men who have rejected sex segregation. She has come to stand for a moment in the history of her nation that reflects the tensions and crises as well as the triumphs and joys that she faced as an individual. Farrokhzad’s work was and continues to be a double metaphor. It seldom leaves the Iranian reader impartial, evoking strong attraction or keen aversion, exaggerated hostility or exalted praise. Whereas some consider her a promiscuous woman, dangerous in her advocacy and her choices in life, love, and art, others see her as a cultural hero, a rebel in search of freedom. No matter how she is seen, her fame has grown consistently since, especially since her death. She died at the height of her powers, deprived of the possibility of further evolution both as a woman and as a poet. So we will never know what further heights she may have attained or what depths she might have plumbed. READ MORE sussandeyhim.com/the-house-is-black/

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