Madihe Gharibi: «At the door that has no knocker»
“Fire burns, but never gets burned. Fire purifies but never becomes impure. Fire is always fire, and stays fire as long as it’s burning. Fire has been with us from the primitive beginning of human life, and it always will be.”
— Madihe Gharibi
As the second performance in the “Claiming Space” program, Fotogalleriet is proud to present Madihe Gharibi’s “At The Door That Has No Knocker” in Bergen on the 5th October.
Madihe Gharibi is an Oslo/Bergen-based Iranian artist who, in this performance, invites the audience to participate in a fire ritual in the memories of Sahar Khodayari, who suffered a tragic fate due to the affect of oppression on women in Iran.
Gharibi, in her performance, combines the historical contexts of Iran and the West, the usage of fire as an indicator of righteousness, and its prolific and extreme relevance in modern times Iran as an unfortunate but sole means of protest and carrier of justice for people. The “fire” element becomes an important riddle for Gharibi. She says:
“Fire has always been significant in Iranian history, culture, and mythology. In Zoroastrianism, a religion that originated in Iran, prominent before Islam and one of the oldest religions, fire is considered a holy element connecting humankind to their God. Zoroastrians pray at fire temples (Atashkade), and fire is always present in their prayers and rituals.
In the old Iranian myths, such as the story of Siavash, fire is a measurement for distinguishing the guilty from the innocent. The assumed guilty Siavash passes through fire unharmed, and fire is the sacred, non-human judge through which justice is served.
But fire’s crucial, symbolic role does not belong only to the old times. In our time, some people set fire to their bodies, and fire is their messenger to spread their protest message. These protestors usually come from the most voiceless class of society, and their death is the only voice they ever had, but also the loudest and most potent.”
Fire as an element to achieve righteousness is not unfamiliar to Western history as it is not to the Eastern or Southern demographic. It’s hard not to think of Europe’s history with the Christian witch-hunt during the 14th and 15th centuries. Similarly, in recent decades, fire has played a crucial part in the protests of the Middle East and North Africa. Protesting state corruption in Tunis, Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi is known to have been the spark of the Tunisian revolution, followed by the so-called Arab Spring, after he set himself on fire.
While it has been recently argued that self-immolation is an act performed by the socially desperate and otherwise voiceless, the act following sociohistorical evolution has transformed its meaning over time and can be read as an act performed not out of despair but out of hope. Self-immolations have been performed by people around the world, regardless of religious background, political affiliation, or ideological outlook.
“At The Door That Has No Knocker” raises important questions about the realities of patriarchal hegemony and investigates the tools used to dismantle or escape those structures.
For this upcoming moment in Bergen, Madihe Gharibi presents a reworked piece. She continuously visits this performance and brings her experiences to reevaluate and reconstruct her piece. Having been performing this piece formerly in Bergen and most recently in Teheran, Iran, Gharibi works with a translation of cultures beyond the linguistic frame. Her method, which includes a gathering after her performances where the participants actively participate in concluding the performance, breaks down the format of the viewer and performer. Through sharing stories of injustice and bringing with her the participants’ accounts from her earlier performances, Gharibi creates a radical metaphysical space where stories of injustice beyond borders and movements are shared. In times when revolutionary movements are restricted by technological entrapment such as surveillance and censorship, she uses herself to create dialogues and interactions between people who usually are geographically, historically, and in practice separated.
Through this performance, we’re asked what it is the pain of oppression that succeeds the pain of undergoing such a brutal act of self-immolation. How has fire, a prominent human entity, being used as “sacrificial” to achieve justice?
Madihe Gharibi (b. 1995, Tehran, Iran) is a playwright and artist based in Oslo, Norway. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Literature from the University of Tehran and has a Master in Fine Art from the University of Bergen. Gharibi worked as a playwright and theatre director in Iran. She was involved in numerous teaching projects aimed at training young professionals and teenagers in writing and theatre. Gharibi’s practice derives from time-based and live art. Her work can be experienced from a gallery to a theatre stage or conversations surrounding a movie. Storytelling is her mode of expression. Her practice is intertwined with her daily life, her anxieties, fears, and sorrows, as well as her ontological view of the social and political situations she experiences as an Iranian woman in Norway. It blurs the boundary between reality and fiction.
Claiming Space: Norway/Sápmi is a project exploring public space’s role in creating norms for social expectations and “sanctions” through four artists’ performative and temporary artistic contributions. The performances will occur in six cities in Norway/ Sápmi, accessible to broad audiences.
The Fotogalleriet Foundation produces the program with curators Bassel Anis Hatoum, Miki Gebrelul, and coordinator Jennifer Garzon.
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Claiming Space: Norway/Sápmi is made possible with funding from LOK (Lokalsamfunnsordingen) from KORO (Public Art Norway).
For press inquiries, please get in touch with the Fotogalleriet Communications and Events Manager, Faduma Mohamed at email@example.com
For international press, please get in touch with Arash Shahali at firstname.lastname@example.org
The graphic design for the project is by artist Ilavenil Jayapalan.