Practice being free #1, 2021
My body acts as a swinging pendulum and represents time, political struggle, and uncertainty. As a clock pendulum swings continually from side to side to hold time, my body hanging on the street sign also swings between two sides (or states). Azadi Street is a trunk route in Tehran, Iran connecting Azadi Square to Enqelab Square. On the street sign I hang, it is written آزادی خیابان (AZADI ST.) in both the Persian and English alphabet. The meaning of the word AZADI is “Freedom” and Enqelab means “Revolution” in Persian. This performance oscillates between the history of performance art and the contemporary intention of liberation. Perhaps, on one hand, my suspended body on Azadi Street in Tehran and its never-ending swinging among the branches of the tree evoke Bas Jan Ader’s piece called Broken fall (organic); this is a deliberate return to the past. At the same time, on the other hand, being free, either physically or psychologically [or both] as a social being, is a state of being that we almost always expect to achieve tomorrow or the next day, meaning the future. That is to say, both my body and the clock pendulum display the present while struggling to be free from the past or the future.
The oscillation of my body is also considered from the socio-political and personal perspectives. As an Iranian-American, I fluctuate between two political ideologies, two different cultures, languages, and two different identities. So I can say in one sentence that my body is practicing being free.
Documentation by Amir Sharif