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Sara Rajaei

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Saudade Noumenon


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Prvi put sam susrela radove iransko-nizozemske umjetnice Sare Rajaei na izložbi Govori sjećanja (Speak Memory) održanoj u galeriji Stroom Den Haag 2011. godine. Otad su iz naše suradnje proizišli razgovor za časopis Art magazin Kontura, dvije skupne izložbe na kojima su bili izloženi Sarini radovi te kratak film Motel u bunaru (The motel in the well) koji smo zajednički napisale i režirale. Sarina prva samostalna izložba u Hrvatskoj bit će predstavljena u MMSU-u, od 22. ožujka do 10. travnja 2016. godine. Saudade Noumenon je polu-retrospektiva Sarinih radova nastalih u razdoblju od 2001. do 2015. godine, i ističe neprekidnu promjenu njena pristupa prema video i filmskim radovima. Paralelno s izložbom u MMSU-u održat će se večer filmova u Mini Art-kinu Croatia gdje će biti prikazana tri Sarina filma a razgovarat će se i o iranskoj poeziji. Ovaj katalog donosi: Sjećanja beskrajnoga rječnika (The memories of the endless dictionary); uvod u Sarin rad, objavljen 2011. godine u časopisu Art magazin Kontura, broj 113. Razgovor o medijima (A discussion on media); razgovor s umjetnicom prigodom izložbe Saudade Noumenon 2016. godine.

Neva Lukić, ožujak, 2016. godine

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He stayed in my mind because he was very tall, had long arms and long legs, a thick black mustache and old-fashioned glasses‌

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They showed the same images again and again and we watched again and again.

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Neva Lukić

Sjećanja beskrajnog rječnika

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Video radovi iransko-nizozemske umjetnice Sare Rajaei u sebi nose tišinu o kojoj su pisali Simon & Garfunkel, u kojoj su ljudi razgovarali bez riječi, pisali pjesme nikad ostvarene glasovima. To je ona puna tišina unutar koje talože se zvukovi svijeta; primirila se u reskom otkucaju našega bila ali ipak je, zagušeni drugim titrajima, većinu vremena ne čujemo... Rajaein umjetnički rad doista pobuđuje nebrojene citate jer podsjeća na ono primordijalno koje smo nekad negdje u nečemu osjetili... Priziva i Barthesa koji piše o beskrajnom rječniku iz kojega svaki novi autor uzima postojeće tekstove kako bi stvorio novi tekst. Umjetnik je poput šamana koji kroz svoj rad priziva slike, zvukove i rečenice negdje nekad zapisane ili negdje upravo u ovome trenutku izgovorene... I baš taj čin prizivanja, samoga umjetnika čini jedinstvenim, bliskim izvorima. Na ovome se mjestu ponovno objavljuje jedan citat: (...) vidio sam cirkulaciju svoje tamne krvi, vidio sam ljubav kako povezuje i smrt kako mijenja, vidio sam zemlju u Alefu, vidio sam svoje lice i utrobu, vidio sam tvoje lice, osjećao sam nesvjesticu i plakao jer su moje oči vidjele taj tajni i pretpostavljani predmet, čije ime ljudi uzurpiraju mada ga nijedan čovjek vidio nije: nepojmljivi svemir. Na Borgesove riječi lako se može nadovezati iranska pjesnikinja koja se u dokumentarnom filmu Sare Rajaei Shahrzad (2009.) prisjeća svojega života: (...) Gledajući u Sunce osjećaš se sigurno. Kao da Sunce prenosi neka od svojih sjećanja na tebe od najranijih početaka vremena. Zato što je u početku i postojalo jedino Sunce..., kaže Shahrzad Beheshti Mirmiran gledajući u tu zvijezdu koja je kao i Alef sam, okrugloga oblika... Izvučeni iz beskrajnoga rječnika, video radovi Sare Rajaei također su kružnoga usmjerenja, nemaju niti početka niti kraja i ne pripadaju određenoj epohi vremena. Oni govore o svima ostalima, o njima se može govoriti kroz sve ostale, a opet su izrečeni kroz samu umjetničinu intimu prizivanja vlastitih sjećanja. Sjećanje

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je kostur oko kojeg nastaje njezin video. Sam proces rada uvijek kreće od pisanja ili prisjećanja koje je pisanju, u ovome slučaju, zamalo pa sinonim. Uz taj kostur potom prianjaju slike i zvuk koje uvijek zaklone izvornu misao, odnosno ona metamorfozira u svojevrsnu stvarnost na granici sna, i u san na granici stvarnosti. U mnogim video radovima može se zamijetiti odsustvo nekog od spomenutih elemenata videa. Najčešće je riječ o odsustvu same slike, ponekad zvuka te vrlo rijetko samoga pripovijedanja (teksta). Zatomljujući jednu od tih komponenti autorica kao da dodatno naglašava nikad dovoljno popunjenu prazninu koju može ostaviti sjećanje. Osjećaj neprestanog nedostajanja prati nas dok promatramo nijema lica na fotografijama, vrlo učestalim motivima u ovim video radovima... Ili, dok gledamo monokrom praznine ekrana u video instalacijama poput Prijestupna godina koja je počela u petak / a leap year that started on a Friday (2010.), odnosno 1978, 231. dan / 1978 231st day (2012.) Nadalje, predmeti koji utjelovljuju sjećanja, u mnogim slučajevima namještaj koji umjetnica miluje kamerom, kao da također nastoje ispuniti praznine…, no one se ipak osjećaju između, te pune praznine neizrečenog, istovremeno bogate i plošne poput ćilima (koji je također motiv koji se ponavlja u različitim radovima) o kojem umjetnica govori u video radu Otkad smo se preselili ovamo / Since we’ve moved here (2007.): Jednom kad imaš sag, imaš sve. Možeš sjesti na njega, leći na njega, možeš jesti na njemu i možeš uživati u njegovoj ljepoti. Sag se kao glavna tema pojavljuje i u video instalaciji Dan amnezije / A day of amnesia (2004.) u kojoj nasnimljeni glas pripovjedačice pripovijeda priču o sagu, a kamera u praznom interijeru snima osobe koje sjede na podu, nijeme i nepokretne poput skulptura, poput živih slika (tableaux vivants). Odsustvo glavnoga objekta (saga) i igranih likova na pokretnoj slici, ostavlja promatraču slobodu stvaranja vlastite priče, tako da

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je ovdje riječ o univerzalnoj, neutralnoj živoj slici (tableau vivant) budući da se dramaturgija cijele scene odvija unutar prostora pripovijedanja. Ta je sloboda još uočljivija u radu Prijestupna godina koja je počela u petak / a leap year that started on a Friday u kojem se na bijeloj podlozi izmjenjuje jedino tekst koji umjetnica čita na engleskom jeziku prisjećajući se jedne srpanjske večeri kad je imala dvanaest godina. Tekst govori o čovjeku koji se također zvao Scheherazad i koji je, dan nakon što je prvi put posjetio obitelj umjetnice, poginuo u avionu koji su srušili američki projektili. Iako govori o tragičnom događaju rušenja aviona promatraču ta činjenica može lagano promaknuti jer bol kao da je nadišla samu sebe... Bjelina ekrana svojevrsno je čistilište, praznina u kojoj se svaka rečenica osjeća ne samo misaono već i fizički. Album Zid grupe Pink Floyd odiše sličnom atmosferom, čak je i sam zid nijem i prazan poput spomenute bjeline ekrana, a možemo dozvati i rečenicu: Look, Mummy! There’s an airplane up in the sky...! Uz radove ove umjetnice možemo kružiti unedogled, bez početka i kraja, oni uvijek dozivaju nekoga drugoga i nešto drugo, slika doziva riječ, riječ sliku, glazba je poput riječi, a riječ poput pokreta i tako dalje... No, nije li to dozivanje, ta jeka, zapravo srž umjetnosti? Kad gledamo video rad, a imamo osjećaj da slušamo glazbu; kad čitamo knjigu a čini nam se da se slika nalazi pred nama...

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Sara Rajaei i Neva Lukić

Razgovor o umjetničkim medijima

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Neva Snažan performativni, pripovjedački element u tvojem radu dovodi riječ do njenog esencijalnog, hipnotičkog značenja... Ona hipnotizira gledatelja ispričanom pričom... Sama si rekla. “Moji radovi nisu niti filmovi niti video radovi.” Što su oni, dakle? Možda bismo morali pronaći novu terminologiju, nešto poput – “slikovne književnosti” ili “literarnog video rada...” Sara U stvarnosti sam prvi put doživjela hipnotičko svojstvo pripovjedanja priča na početku iransko-iračkog rata. Čitava bi se obitelj okupila u jednom kutu kuće ili u podrumu, u potpunoj tami. Maleni radio tranzistor bio je jedini dodir s vanjskim svijetom. Čekajući znak za prestanak uzbune, slušali bismo na radiju priče iz Tisuću i jedne noći i druge perzijske klasike, koji bi nas svojom čarolijom u mislima odveli daleko od opasnosti... Pripovijedanje priča bitan je dio mojega opusa, pa ipak u svojem pristupu vizualizaciji priče i pomoću raznih metoda, kojima se koristim kad povezujem tekst i sliku, često nastojim stvarati na tankoj crti između video umjetnosti i kratkoga filma. Dok stvaram novo djelo neprestano se zapitkujem s koje strane te crte želim stajati i što želim raditi? Moji su radovi i filmovi i video radovi, a istodobno nisu niti jedno od toga. Neki imaju filmski pristup po svojoj strukturi, načinom snimanja, montaže i prikazivanja. No, na razini sadržaja pristup je suprotan; kako eksperimentiram s pričom ili kako počinjem ili završavam priču, ako je ima, ili kako povezujem slike s riječima (Charismatic fates & vanishing dates / Karizmatične sudbine i datumi što nestaju). S druge strane, neki moji radovi na prvi pogled izgledaju kao konceptualne video instalacije, dok po svojem sadržaju slijede klasičnu linearnu pripovijest (a leap year that started on a Friday

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& 1978 the 231st day / Prijestupna godina koja je počela u petak i 1978, 231. dan)… Neva A kakva su tvoja iskustva u prikazivanju svojih radova? Prikazivanje video radova i filmova u galerijskim ili muzejskim prostorima vrlo je složeno... Mislim kako bi u idealnoj situaciji često bilo najbolje izgraditi posebne zvučno izolirane boksove kako se ne bi preklapali zvukovi raznih radova. Na tvojoj izložbi u MMSU-u također imamo složenu situaciju – glas koji govori priču gotovo je jednako važan kao i zvuk, tako da se radovi ne bi smjeli slušati preko slušalica... Sara Za svaki svoj radi imam “savršeno okruženje”. No, nažalost, takva savršena okruženja ne funkcioniraju uvijek. Svaki prostor ili izbor radova na svoj način nešto dodaju svakom pojedinom umjetničkom djelu koje je ondje predstavljeno. Takvi dodaci imaju svoje prednosti i nedostatke. Po mojem mišljenju rad se mijenja svaki put kad je predstavljen. Neva Zašto se uvijek odlučuješ za to da oblik i sadržaj/koncept budu u nekoj vrsti protuteže? Dolazi do toga podsvjesno ili namjerno? Sara I jedno i drugo. Najviše zbog raznih oblika kreativnog/umjetničkog izražavanja koji me oduševljavaju... Pisanje, primjerice, koliko se njime može zaokupiti gledateljeva mašta..., ili fotografija, beskonačan trenutak, jedini koji je uhvaćen od tisuću mogućnosti. Zatim, zvuk. Očaravaju me glasovi, način kojim se izgovaraju

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riječi i kako se grade rečenice. A najviše sam opsjednuta prostorom, unutrašnjošću domova i malenim predmetima koji oblikuju sastav emocionalne priče. To je tako proturječan, a opet, inspirativan spoj sredstava. Protuteža je potrebna kako bi se postigla ravnoteža. Moj stvaralački postupak uvijek započinje slikom. Nepokretna slika, koja nije neminovno fotografija, češće je slika koja se pojavljuje u mašti, ponekad vezana za nešto iz prošlosti, a ponekad nešto potpuno izmišljeno. Nakon te slike dolaze riječi a zatim drugi elementi. U svojem, često dugotrajnom, stvaralačkom procesu prebacujem se s jedne na drugu različitu materiju i ne slijedim zadani uzorak. Nastojim slijediti svoj instinkt. Neva Čini se da za razne umjetnike stvaranje započinje slikom. Jednako je i kod mene kao pisca... Možda zaista “u početku bijaše Slika”. Slika i zvuk... Sara Medij koji sam izabrala daje mi slobodu da se krećem između ostalih oblika stvaranja i da se koristim drugim medijima, no s mogućnošću vraćanja na glavni put. No, kako je s tobom, jesi li kao spisateljica svjesna da će se “slika koju zamišljaš” preobraziti u slova koja će postati riječi koje oblikuju rečenicu u pjesmu ili pripovjetku? I kako je iskustvo stvaranja filma djelovalo na tvoj doživljaj pisanja? I što misliš o našoj suradnji na snimanju filma? Neva Vrlo često započinjem slikom u glavi, ili čak postojećom slikom nečega što me nadahnjuje, no uvijek postoji glavna ideja ili zamisao (u obliku riječi) o kojoj želim pisati, a za to mi je potreban

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jezik. Čim krenem pisati, jezik “premazuje” površinu slike. Dok pišem osjećam kako se sve (slika, zvuk, rečenica) stapa u jedno, tako da nemam potrebu posezati za drugim medijima. Kod stvaranja (umjetničkog) filma svidjela mi se činjenica što riječ postaje snažnija kad je izgovorena naglas. Medij postaje više fizički. Uz to, volim eksperimentirati, a to ide uz umjetnički film, jer to donosi neočekivan ishod – od priče, preko snimanja do montaže. Konačni proizvod nema nikakve veze s pričom od koje se krenulo... Na početku je bila riječ, zatim je došao krajolik, ptice i svi zvukovi..., svijet u svim svojim preobrazbama! Stvaranje filma gotovo nalikuje otvaranju očiju ujutro... Snimanje ovoga filma nije promijenilo moje mišljenje o pisanju, jer smo o svemu razgovarale i zajednički stvarale svaki pojedini dio, nije bilo zloporabe teksta. Teško je pronaći vizualna umjetnika jednaka senzibiliteta piščevu. Naš je film još uvijek velikim dijelom sličan književnosti, vizualnom pjesništvu. Što ti o tome misliš? Osim toga, zar nikad nisi, kao filmašica i video umjetnica koja često uopće ne prikazuje sliku (a leap year that started on a friday, 1978 the 231st day / Prijestupna godina koja je počela u petak, 1978, 231. dan), poželjela objaviti knjigu? Sara Najprije moram odgovoriti na posljednji dio pitanja; moji rani radovi nisu sadržavali tekst, niti zvuk pa čak niti boju ili naslov... Moji su prvi radovi prikazivali grube slike bez montaže... Kad sam konačno počela pisati, to sam činila s namjerom da stvorim nešto vizualno, što znači da sam bila svjesna kako nije potrebno svaki najmanji detalj pretočiti u riječi, no mogao se pojaviti u slici... Ovdje se također radi o “Autoritetu”. Pisac ima kontrolu nad svojim djelima do tiskanja. Od tog trenutka sve ovisi o čitatelju, kad i gdje će čitati djelo. Zamisli da tragičan tekst mojega rada

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1978 the 231st day / 1978, 231. dan čitatelj čita ležeći na plaži... To bi bilo strašno. Više mi odgovara zadržati pažnju svojega čitatelja-gledatelja. A što se tiče gore spomenutih radova; dok gledatelj čita tekst i upija ga na svoj način, čitam mu tekst tako da ga upija onako kako ja želim, u određenom vremenu, određenim ritmom, i s osjećajem koji ja odaberem... Spoj čitanja i slušanja jedinstveno je iskustvo upijanja... No, moramo znati kako oba rada u stvari sadrže mnogo slika... U radu a leap year that started on a Friday / Prijestupna godina koja je počela u petak, neprekidno ponavljam riječ bijelo dok gledatelj promatra bjelinu. Na kraju, dok opisujem stravu, gledatelj vidi mjesto na kojem se strava događa. U radu 1978 the 231st day / 1978, 231. dan govorim o crnome, a nesreća se događa u crnoj noći. Gledatelj gleda u crno od početka do kraja priče. Slika je ondje, no ona je prije cjelovita slika koja se mijenja u emocionalnom smislu i u odnosu na riječi koje se pojavljuju na površini. Neka vrst “majke slike”, koja rađa druge neviđene slike u svojoj utrobi..., poput crnoga monolita u filmu Odiseja u svemiru 2001. Neva Upravo me ovo što si rekla o autoritetu i svojim djelima, koji su uglavnom nastali iz čistoga teksta, osvojilo u radu a leap year that started on a Friday / Prijestupna godina koja je počela u petak. Zbog tvojega upravljanja tekstom gledatelj mora stati i slušati... S druge strane, nedavno sam čitala knjigu pjesama dok je vani kišilo pa su tako ti zvuci utjecali na moj doživljaj pjesme. Osjetila sam je snažnije, kao da je “nadograđena” kišom... Razmišljala sam o tome kako je baš to posebnost poezije – vrlo često ona nalazi nadahnuće u trenutnom promatranju vanjskoga svijeta, i kasnije, kad se ponudi čitatelju, opet ju okružuje čitateljev vanjski svijet.

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Kao da je iznesena iz svijeta i zatim ponovno vraćena u njega! I u vezi s time, možeš li mi nešto više reći kakav imaš odnos, kao umjetnica, prema kulturi svoje domovine a osobito prema iranskoj poeziji? Sara Poezija i perzijski jezik (farsi) usko su povezani. U njemu poezija ima praktičnu ulogu u svakodnevnom životu. Neki su stihovi s vremenom postali poslovice, pa i cinične primjedbe... Poezija se njeguje na klasičan način i smatra se istinskim oblikom umjetničkog izražavanja. Imajući sve to na umu, da zadržim hladnu glavu kao umjetnica, odabrala sam pisati na engleskom, a ne na perzijskom jeziku... Nekako je moja emocionalna distanca prema engleskom jeziku, kao drugom jeziku, donijela veći sklad mojem pisanju. Neva Možda imaš dobar osjećaj kad pišeš na engleskom (svojem drugom jeziku) jer dodaješ sliku i zvuk svojemu pisanju, tj. stvaraš filmove? Jer biti okružena jezikom koji ne govoriš i pisati na ne-materinskom jeziku za mene je izvor najvećeg mogućeg nezadovoljstva... Sara Kao što sam već rekla, jezik nije glavno sredstvo mojega rada. Ne mogu ni zamisliti kako je piscu pisati na stranom jeziku. No u mediju u kojem se ja izražavam, sigurno bolje pišem na engleskom jeziku. Mogu se udaljiti od riječi i bolje analizirati svoje pisanje... Kao da postajem “neko drugo ja”, izravnije, profinjenije... Ponekad mi zaista nedostaje određena riječ ili izraz na farsiju; primjerice izraz “kap suze” (a drop of tear) u jednom od mojih

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posljednjih radova urednik je odmah ispravio u “suza” (teardrop). To me strašno zasmetalo. No, uglavnom sam zadovoljna engleskim jezikom. Svjesna sam kako se moji radovi smatraju poetskima... No, pretpostavljam da se to ne može izbjeći... Neva Dakle, da si ostala u Iranu, tvoji bi radovi vjerojatno bili potpuno drugačiji. Što o tome misliš? Taj beskrajan svijet mogućnosti i putova... (a tu je i Nizozemska, točka susreta u kojoj se povezuju ljudi raznih nacionalnosti, ljudi poput tebe i mene?) Sara Moj umjetnički put započeo je u Nizozemskoj... Živeći kao useljenica i ulazeći u tu mješavinu kultura, suočila sam se sama sa sobom ili s onim što sam mislila da jesam. To je, zatim, istaknulo s kojim dijelom sebe želim živjeti ili što želim izbjeći ili obnoviti. Iz te je točke krenuo moj umjetnički put. Mislim da oni koji izaberu napustiti emocionalno poznato područje i ući u novi nepoznat svijet prolaze kroz razdoblje otpora prema promjeni, kad um dođe u stanje promatranja i analizira što je ostalo iza nas i prema čemu idemo. To je kod mene trajalo dvije godine, za to sam vrijeme mnogo učila na fakultetu, a da nisam prihvatila novi svijet koji me okruživao. Tad sam snimila svoj prvi video, u trajanju od šest minuta, temeljen na perzijskoj poslovici ‘Aab dar haavan koobidan’, što doslovno znači “lupati vodu žbukom i maljem”, a ismijava uzaludne pokušaje, besmislenu borbu.

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And no matter how drastic, in some of those stories I've found a reason, a detail to comfort me, allow me to tolerate the unbearableness of the catastrophe, the way I was and am related to it. 35


It occurs to me that the dimensions of the fire kept growing into our everyday life, until we were no longer able to live a normal life‌


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I first encountered the video works by the Iranian-Dutch artist Sara Rajaei at the exhibition Speak Memory, at Stroom Den Haag in 2011. Since then our collaboration has resulted in the interview conducted for Kontura Art Magazine, in two group exhibitions where Sara’s work was on show and the short film The motel in the well which we have written and directed together. Sara’s first solo exhibition in Croatia will be presented at MMSU, from March 22nd to April 10th, 2016. Saudade Noumenon is a semi-retrospective of Sara’s works between 2001 and 2015, highlighting her constantly changing approach to video and film making. Alongside the exhibition at MMSU, a film-screening night will be organized at Mini Art-Cinema Croatia where three of Sara’s films will be screened and Iranian poetry will be discussed. To be read in this catalogue: The memories of the endless dictionary; an introduction to Sara’s work published in Kontura Art Magazine, June 2011, no. 113 A discussion on media; a conversation with the artist conducted on the occasion of the exhibition Saudade Noumenon in 2016.

Neva Lukić, March 2016

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Neva Lukić

The memories of endless dictionary

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Video works by the Iranian-Dutch artist Sara Rajaei have the silence that Simon & Garfunkel wrote about, within which people talked wordlessly and wrote poems never shared by voices. It is the full silence that has deposited all the sounds in the world, which has settled down in the throbing sound of our heartbeat but still, most of the time, being choked by other vibrations, we can’t hear it... Rajaei’s work truly evokes countless references since it reminds us of the primordial element that we have sometimes and somewhere sensed. It invokes Barthes who writes about the endless dictionary from which every new author retrieves existing texts to create a new one. Artists are like shamans, through their work they evoke images, sounds and sentences inscribed somewhere at some point in time or pronounced somewhere at this very moment... And this very act of evoking makes the artist original, close to the origins... This calls for another citation: ...I saw the circulation of my dark blood, I saw love connecting and death changing, I saw the earth in Alef, I saw my face and intestine, I saw your face, I felt dizzy and cried because my eyes saw that secret and presumed object, whose name is usurped by people although no one has seen it: the unfathomable universe. Iranian poetess reminiscing about her life in Rajaei’s documentary Shahrzad (2009) can also be easily related to Borges’s words. Looking at the Sun makes you feel safe. As if the Sun passes some of its memories on to you… since the beginning of all times. Because at the beginning there was only the Sun..., says Shahrzad Beheshti Mirmiran watching this star, round in shape like Alef... Retrieved from the endless dictionary, video art by Sara Rajaei is also round, it has neither the beginning nor the end and does not belong to any particular period in time. It is about everyone else, it can be talked about through all the others, however, it is communicated through the

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artist’s innermost feelings about her own memories. Memory is the skeleton round which the video evolves. The creative process always starts with writing or reminiscing, which are, in this case, almost synonyms. Afterwards, images and sound adhere to this skeleton and they always cover the original idea, namely it metamorphoses into a sort of reality bordering on a dream, and into a dream bordering on reality. In many video-works we can notice the absence of some of the mentioned video elements. The most common is the absence of the image, sometimes the sound is not present, and very rarely the storytelling (the text) itself. By removing one of the components the artist emphasizes that the emptiness left by memory can never be filled. While observing silent faces in photographs, frequent motifs in Rajaei’s work, we are aroused by the feeling that something is constantly missing. Or when watching the screen, as only white or black image, in the video installations such as a leap year that started on a friday (2010) and 1978 the 231st day (2012). Furthermore, the objects that embody memories, in many cases furniture caressed by the artist’s camera, seems as if it seeks to fill the gaps too…, but still, the gaps are felt in between, the full voids of untold, simultaneously rich and flat like a carpet (a recurrent motif in artist’s works) depicted in the video Since we’ve moved here (2007): If you have a carpet, you have everything. You can sit on it, you can lie on it, you can eat on it and you can enjoy its beauty, says the artist in the video. A carpet is also the main theme in the video installation A day of amnesia (2004) where voice-over narrator tells the story about it and the camera captures people sitting on the floor in the empty interior, silent and motionless like sculptures, like living pictures (tableaux vivants). The absence of the main object (the carpet) and feature characters in the moving image, leave to the observer the freedom for creating his/her own story,

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so in this case it comes to the universal, neutral tableau vivant since the dramaturgy of all the scene takes place within the storytelling itself. This freedom is even more prominent in the work a leap year that started on a Friday with the flowing text, read by the artist in English, remembering one evening in July when she was twelve. It is about a man also called Scheherzad, who got killed in an aircraft destroyed by American missiles one day after his first visit to the artist’s family. Although the video depicts a tragic event, the observer can easily miss this fact, as if the pain had overcome itself. The whiteness of the screen is a sort of purgatory, an emptiness where every single sentence is felt not only mentally but also physically. The Pink Floyd album The Wall exudes a similar atmosphere, even the wall is as mute and empty as the mentioned whiteness of the screen and we can even recall the sentence: Look, Mummy! There’s an airplane up in the sky... The art of Sara Rajaei enables us to circulate indefinitely, without the beginning or end, it always invokes someone else and something else, an image invokes a word, a word invokes an image, music is like a word, and words are like movements and so on. But isn’t the invoking, the echo, in reality the essence of art? When watching a video it feels like listening to music; when reading a book it seems that an image is in front of us...

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Sara Rajaei & Neva Lukić

The conversation on artistic media

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Neva A strong performative, storytelling element in your work brings the word back to its essentials; hypnotic meaning... It hypnotises the viewer by the story told... You said yourself – “my works are neither films nor videos.” What are they, then? Maybe new terminology should be invented, something like – image-literature or literary video… Sara My first actual encounter with the hypnotic quality of storytelling was when the Iran-Iraqi war started. The whole family would gather in one corner of the house or in the basement, in the dark. Our only contact with the outside world was a small green transistor radio. Waiting to hear the safety alarm, we would listen to the radio broadcasts of 1001 nights or other Persian classics, which hypnotically carried our minds out of the danger zone… Storytelling is an essential part of my oeuvre, yet in my approach towards visualizing a story and through the diverse methods, which I use combining text and image, I often try to work at the thin line between video-art and short film. While making a new work I keep asking myself which side of the line I like to stand on or work with? My works are both films and videos, and at the same time none of those. Some of them follow a rather filmic approach in their construction, in the way they are shot, edited or presented. But in the content the approach is the opposite; the way I experiment with the narrative or how I begin or finish a story, if there is any, or how I link the images with the words (Charismatic fates & vanishing dates). On the other hand I have works which, at first glance, seem to be conceptual video installations, while in their content they are a classical linear narrative (a leap year that started on a Friday & 1978 the 231st day)…

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Neva And what is your experience with presenting your works? Presenting videos and films in a gallery/museum space is a very complex thing… In my opinion, in many cases the perfect situation would be to build special soundproof boxes so the sounds of the works wouldn’t mutually interfere. At your exhibition in MMSU we also have a complex situation – the voice-over telling the story is almost as important as the sound, so the works should not be presented on earphones... Sara For every work I have a “perfect setting”. But, unfortunately, such perfect settings don’t always function. Every venue or selection of works add certain spices to each and every of the art-works, presented in an exhibition. These additions have advantages and disadvantages. For me, a work changes every time it is presented. Neva Why do you always choose to have a form and a content/concept in some kind of counterpoint? Is it subconscious or deliberate? Sara It’s both deliberate and subconscious. Mainly because there are various forms of creative/artistic expression, which I am fascinated by... Writing, for example, how much can you engage the viewer’s imagination…, or photography, an infinite moment, which is captured out of thousands of other capturing possibilities. Then, there is sound. I am fascinated by voices, by the way the words are spoken and the way sentences are built. And most of all I am haunted by space, domestic interiors and small objects which shape an emotional narrative composition. It’s such

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a contradictory, and yet, inspiring blend of tools. To make a balance, one is in need of a counterpoint. For me the working process always begins with an image. A still image, which is not necessarily a photograph but often an image which appears in my mind, sometimes linked to something from the past, and sometimes something purely imaginary. After that image, come the words and then other substances. In my, often long, process of working I shift between these different matters without following a certain pattern. I try to follow my instincts. Neva Seems that for different artists creation starts with the image. It is similar for me as a writer... Maybe indeed “at the beginning there was an Image.” Image and sound… Sara The medium I have chosen to work with, gives me the freedom to move in between other forms and use other media, yet with the possibility of getting back to the main path. But what about you, are you as a writer aware that ‘the image you imagine’ will be transferred into letters, which become words that shape a sentence either in a poem or a story? And now that you have experienced film making, how has that affected your perception of being a writer? And how was it for you to collaborate with me on a film? Neva In many cases I start with the image in my head, or even the existing image of something that inspires me, but there is always also a main idea or a thought (in shape of words) which I

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want to write about and for that I need language. The moment I start writing, the language starts to “paste” on the surface of the image. While writing it feels as if everything (image, sound, sentence) melts together, so there is no need to help myself with other media. What I like about making an art film is that when a word is spoken aloud it gets more power. The medium becomes more physical. Furthermore, I like experimenting which goes together with an art film because it brings an unexpected outcome – from the story, through the shooting part, to the editing process. The final product has nothing to do with what the story was at the beginning… First there was a word, then came the landscape, the birds and all the sounds…, the world in all its transformations! Making a film is almost like opening your eyes in the morning... Making this film didn’t change my attitude to being a writer, because we discussed and made every part of it together, the text was not misused. I think it is difficult to find a visual artist whose sensibility matches yours (as a writer). Our film is still, to a large extent, like literature, visual poetry. And how do you see that? Furthermore, haven’t you, as a film maker and video artist who often doesn’t show the image at all (a leap year that started on a Friday, 1978 the 231st day), never had the idea of publishing a book? Sara I have to answer the last part of your question first; my early works did not contain text, neither sound nor even color or title… My first works consisted only of raw-unedited images... When I finally began to write, I wrote with the aim to make something visual, meaning I was aware that not every detail needed to be transferred into words, but could appear in the image…

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It’s also about ‘Authority’. The author controls his writings until the moment they are published. From then it is up to the reader, when and where to read. Imagine if the tragic text of 1978 the 231st day, is read by a reader who’s lying on the beach… That’s a disaster. I prefer to keep my reader-viewer alert. In the works you mentioned above; while the viewer reads the text, and absorbs it in his own way, I read the text to him so that he absorbs the text in the way I want, with the timing, the rhythm, and the feeling that I choose… The combination of reading and hearing makes a unique absorption experience… But one has to consider that both works do contain a lot of images in fact…, in a leap year that started on a Friday, I mention the word white over and over in the text, and the viewer is looking into the white. At the end of the work, when I describe the nightmare, the viewer sees one of the settings where the nightmare occurs. In 1978 the 231st day I talk about black, a disaster happens in the dark of the night. The viewer looks into the black from the beginning until the end of the story. The image is there, but it’s rather a whole image which changes in an emotional sense and in relation to the words appearing on its surface. Some kind of “mother image”, which gives birth to other unseen images in its womb…, like the black monolith in ‘2001 a space Odyssey’. Neva What you said about the authority and your works which are mostly created out of pure text, is exactly why I got captured by the work a leap year that started on a Friday. The way you manipulated the text makes the viewer stand and listen… On the other hand, the other day I was reading a book of poems while it was raining outside, so these sounds influenced the way I perceived the poem. I felt it more strongly, as if rain “had upgraded” the

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poem… I thought how this is so special about poetry – in many cases it takes inspiration out of the momentary observation of the outside world, and later, when served to the reader, it is again surrounded by the outside world surrounding the reader. It is like taking it out of the world, and then bringing it back to the world! Along these lines, can you tell me something more about your relation as an artist to the culture of your home country and especially to Iranian poetry? Sara Poetry and Farsi language are blended. In my language poetry plays a practical role in daily life. Some of the verses have gradually turned into proverbs, or even to references of cynicism… Poetry is cherished in its classical sense as a true form of artistic expression. Considering all these facts, to stay cool-headed in my work, I chose to write in English instead of Farsi… Somehow my emotional distance from English as my second language brought more coherence to my writings. Neva Could it be that for you it is a good feeling to write in English (your second language) because you add image and sound to your writing, i.e you make films? Because for me, to be surrounded by the language I don’t speak and to write in a non-mother tongue is one of the most frustrating things in the world… Sara As I said before, language is not my main working tool. So I can’t imagine how it is for a writer to write in a second language. But within the medium I work with, I can certainly say that I write

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stronger when I write in English. I can take a distance from the words and analyze my writings better… It feels like a different ‘me’, a more direct, subtler ‘me’… There also come the times when I truly miss a certain Farsi word or expression; for example the expression ‘a drop of tear’ in one of my last works was immediately corrected to ‘teardrop’ by my editor. That annoyed me terribly. But I am mostly satisfied with English. Meanwhile, I am aware that my works are depicted as being poetic… But that’s unavoidable I guess… Neva Therefore, if you had stayed in Iran, your work would probably have completely different qualities. How do you feel about it? This endless world of possibilities and paths... (where Holland is a meeting point which brings people of different nationalities, people like you and me together?) Sara My artistic career started in the Netherlands… Beginning to live as an immigrant and entering this blend of cultures, first confronted me with who I was or who I thought I was. Further on, it highlighted which part of me I wanted to live with or what I wanted to either avoid or reconstruct. From that point my career began. I think for everyone who leaves his emotional-familiar zone and enters a new-unfamiliar world, there comes a period of resistance to change, when the mind goes into a state of observation, analyzing what’s been left behind and what is coming ahead. My state of observation lasted for two years, during which period I worked extremely hard at school, but without accepting the new

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world that was surrounding me. Then I made my first video, a 6 minute sequence, referring to the Farsi proverb ‘Aab dar haavan koobidan’ which literally means ‘pounding water with mortar and pestle’, a sarcasm on making futile attempts, fighting for no purpose.

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Sara Rajaei (Abadan, Iran, 1976.) video je umjetnica i filmska redateljica koja živi u Rotterdamu u Nizozemskoj. U svojem radu bavi se pojmom vremena u odnosu na ulogu sjećanja, razne vidove pripovijedanja, prostor te odsutnost. Njezin se opus većim dijelom sastoji od video instalacija i kratkih filmova koji balansiraju na međi pripovjedanja i vizualnog. Nakon diplome na Kraljevskoj umjetničkoj akademiji u Haagu 2002., Rajaei je bila u rezidenciji Kraljevske akademije vizualnih umjetnosti u Amsterdamu (Rijksakademie). Dobitnica je osnovne prestižne holandske nagrade Prix de Rome. Njezini su radovi prikazivani na različitim festivalima i izlagani u različitim galerijskim prostorima diljem svijeta. Ovdje navodimo samo neke od značajnijih kao što su: de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam, Stroom Den Haag, International Film festival Rotterdam, Rencontres internationales Pariz/Berlin/Madrid, Art Brussels, itd.

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Popis izloženih radova

Veronica i Chantur 37’’, video, loop, boja, bez zvuka, 2001. str. 51 – 52 Dan amnezije 5’30’’, video instalacija, boja, zvuk, 2004. str. 44 – 46 Karizmatične sudbine i datumi što nestaju 3’20’’, video, boja, zvuk, 2006. str. 26 – 31 Shahrzad 25’, dokumentarni film, boja, zvuk, 2009. str. 15 – 17 Prijestupna godina koja je počela u petak 6’, video instalacija, boja, zvuk, 2010. str. 8 – 10 Postojao je san i postojalo je sjećanje vezano uz njega 8’30’’, video instalacija, boja, zvuk, 2015. str. 36 – 41

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Mini Art-kino Croatia

5. 4. 2016. Filmovi Sare Rajaei i iranska poezija (s Nevom Lukić i Darijom Žilić) Lida 1’25’’, video, boja, zvuk, 2002. str. 51 – 52 Shahrzad 25’, dokumentarni film, boja, zvuk, 2009. str. 15 – 17 1978., 231. dan 6’, video instalacija, crno-bijela, zvuk, 2012. str. 33 – 34

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Sara Rajaei (Abadan, Iran, 1976) is a video artist/film maker based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In her work, she studies the notion of time in relation with the function of memory, narrative techniques, space and absence. Her oeuvre consists mainly of short films and video installations, which remain inbetween storytelling and imagery. After her graduation from the Royal Academy of Art The Hague in 2002, Rajaei attended a 2-year residency at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten Amsterdam. In 2009, she was awarded Prix de Rome basic prize. Her work has been exhibited at various art venues and festivals around the world. Notable shows include de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam, Stroom Den Haag, International Film festival Rotterdam, Rencontres internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid, Art Brussels and many more.

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List of exhibited works

Veronica & Chantur 37’’, video, loop, color, silent, 2001 p. 51 – 52 A day of amnesia 5’30’’, video installation, color, sound, 2004 p. 44 – 46 Charismatic fates & vanishing dates 3’20’’, video, color, sound, 2006 p. 26 – 31 Shahrzad 25’, documentary, color, sound, 2009 p. 15 – 17 a leap year that started on a Friday 6’, video installation, color, sound, 2010 p. 8 – 10 There was the dream and there was a memory connected with it 8’30’’, video installation, color, sound, 2015 p. 36 – 41

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Mini Art-Cinema Croatia

5 / 4 / 2016 Sara Rajaei films & Iranian poetry (with Neva Lukić & Darija Žilić) Lida 1’25’’, video, color, silent, 2002 p. 51 – 52 Shahrzad 25’, documentary, color, sound, 2009 p. 15 – 17 1978 the 231st day 6’, video installation, black & white, sound, 2012 p. 33 – 34

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izložba / exhibition Sara Rajaei: Saudade Noumenon 22. 3. – 10. 4. 2016., MMSU, Rijeka izdavač / publisher Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art za izdavača / for the publisher Slaven Tolj urednica / editor Neva Lukić tekstovi / texts Neva Lukić, Sara Rajaei prijevod / translation Vida Lukić fotografije (video-stilovi) / photography (videostills) Sara Rajaei grafičko oblikovanje / graphic design Marino Krstačić-Furić & Ana Tomić edukacija / education Milica Đilas, Neva Lukić, Sara Rajaei, Marina Tkalčić odnosi s javnošću / public relations Ivo Matulić tehnički postav / technical display Vanja Pužar, Anton Samaržija dokumentacija / documentation Diana Zrilić, Marina Tkalčić tisak / printing Kerschoffset, Zagreb naklada / print run 300

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broj kataloga / catalogue no. 349 © MMSU, Rijeka, 2016. CIP zapis dostupan u računalnom katalogu Sveučilišne knjižnice Rijeka pod brojem 130909068. ISBN 978-953-8107-02-3 podržano / supported by Veleposlanstvo Kraljevine Nizozemske u Republici Hrvatskoj, zaklada CBK (Centrum Beeldende Kunst) Rotterdam, Ministarstvo kulture RH / Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Republic of Croatia, CBK (Centrum Beeldende Kunst) Rotterdam, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia u suradnji s / in collaboration with Art- kino Croatia / Art- Cinema Croatia zahvale / acknowledgements Milica Đilas, Laurent Fluttert, Milan Gatarić, Anton Hoeksema, Jane Huldman, Maaike Lauwaert, Vida Lukić, Sabina Salamon, Ksenija Orelj, Darija Žilić, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Republic of Croatia, CBK (Centrum Beeldende Kunst) Rotterdam

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ISBN 978-953-8107-02-3

9 789538 107023


Sara Rajaei

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Saudade Noumenon

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Profile for MMSU Rijeka

Sara Rajaei, SAUDADE NOUMENON  

Sara Rajaei SAUDADE NOUMENON

Sara Rajaei, SAUDADE NOUMENON  

Sara Rajaei SAUDADE NOUMENON

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