SHE WHO SEES THE UNKNOWN is an in progress body of work on Digital Colonialism and re-Figuring as a Feminism and activism practice, using 3D scanners and 3D printers as my tools of investigation. Researching dark goddesses, monstrous, and djinn female figures of Middle-Eastern origin, I want to explore the symbolic meanings behind traditions and myths and speculate on the effects of colonialism and other forms of contemporary oppression. I devise a narrative through practices of magic and poetic-speculative storytelling, re-appropriation of traditional mythologies, collaging, meshing, 3D scanning/3D Printing, and archiving.
1- Archiving: researching and gathering an image and text archive of dark goddesses and female jinn and monstrous figure of the Middle-East origin, mostly from ancient mythical stories and resources (an archive that does not exist in any form). This archive will take the format of both a physical reading room, a book (in collaboration with an Archaeologist friend and Imam in Iran), as well as an online web based archive.
2- Production: creating a selection of 12 of these figures by re-appropriating and 3D modeling them from different ancient illustrations. Then 3D scanning the 3D printed models as a series of ritual ceremonial performances as well as video material for storytelling. I imagine the 3D printed sculptures to become an army of dark figures existing alongside a series of re-appropriated and mashed up talismans that I will source out from different Farsi and Arabic fawātih (فواتح) or “openers”, and other occult divinations.
3- Storytelling: writing a separate narrative about each figure in form of video essay/fiction that uses the initial superpower/abilities of the specific jinn, goddess, monstrous figure but connects it to some form of contemporary oppression and colonialism.
4- Ha’m-Neshini (Sitting Together) + Fabulation Stations: a series of intimate public performances, events and discussions in relationship to my research in collaboration with artists, scientists, and activist women from the Middle-East.
According to the Qur’an, the people of Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj spread great mischief on earth and represent chaos, so Allah gave Zulqarnain the power to build an iron wall to detain them, separating them from humans. In the prophecy, the Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj present a looming threat – that one day the wall will crumble and their release will precede ‘the end of the days’.
Finding myself literally “walled out” of the United States during Donald Trump’s first attempt at the Muslim travel ban, this story has a particular pertinence for me.
The resulting video, She Who Sees The Unknown: Ya’jooj Ma’jooj, 2017, imagines that Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj have broken down the wall and become one with the world, only to be pushed back and emerge again in an eternal repeating battle where they and the people who want them out of the city, become one; all representing the same kind of chaos and broken-ness.
For password to view She Who Sees The Unknown: Ya’jooj Ma’jooj, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Huma is a jinn known in various Middle-Eastern tales and myths who “brings heat to the human body and is responsible for the common fever.” The text for this video sits between fact and fiction as a way to re-appropriate her power (bringing heat) to the contemporary horror of our time; in this case global warming but specifically the unjust conversation around it which makes it a very Western centric and colonized dialogue. In his Apocalypse Now! Fear and Doomsday Pleasures essay (one resource I have been inspired by in writing this text) Swyngedouw describes the inequality of this Apocalypse as following:
“While the elites fear both economic and ecological collapse, the consequences and implications are highly uneven. The elite’s fears are indeed only matched by the actually existing socio-ecological and economic catastrophes many already live in. The apocalypse is combined and uneven. And it is within this reality that political choices have to be made and sides taken.”
Through poetic and metaphoric narrations She Who Sees The Unknown: Huma explores this injustice by connecting it to heat/high temperature, madness, hallucination and the ‘taking over’ of this colonized power.
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Eyebeam Research Residency Event: Refiguring
(four fabulation stations, storytelling sessions, and an intimate conversation with Morehshin Allahyari, Gelare Khoshgozaran, Nooshin Rostami, Ida Momennejad, and Maryam Darvishi)
May 27, 2017 At Eyebeam
Documentation by Supreet Mahanti
This event focused on “re-figuring” and fabulation as an activist, feminist practice of reimagining the past in order to create multiple alternative worlds and futures.
For Re-figuring, Eyebeam Resident Morehshin Allahyari invited four artists, activists, and scientists (Gelare Khoshgozaran, Nooshin Rostami, Ida Momennejad, and Maryam Darvishi) to create ‘Fabulation Stations’—spaces where they will perform poetic, mythical, and speculative stories that mesh past, present and future forms of colonialism. These stories are examples of oral storytelling that resist being written out as new grand narratives.
Re-figuring is part of Allahyari’s two-year in-progress research project (2016-2018), She Who Sees the Unknown, around exploring the causes and speculating on effects of digital colonialism and other forms of contemporary oppression. Researching dark goddesses, monstrous and Jinn female figures of Middle-Eastern origin, Allahyari’s project devises a narrative through magic and poetic-speculative storytelling, re-appropriation of traditional mythologies, and techniques such as collage, meshing, archiving, 3D scanning and 3D printing.