Having left Iran in 2013, Mary Ana and Babak Salimizadeh arrived Sweden in 2015, as ICORN artists. In June, they organized a workshop in Berlin, inviting participants to think about, share and explore how video, photography, drawing, and writing can be means of reflection on coming from abroad and may be seen as important companions in their travels.
In order to initiate the process the presented two film-practices by Mary Ana to open a discussion about queer/feminist artistic strategies to multiply arts of the individuals or lives as an exercise of weaving networks in fictionalizing stories of the self and the others.
In The Weavers (10 min, December 2015) then living in Norrköping as a newcomer who is interested in film-making, Mary Ana tried to produce connections and networks between women on the basis of knitting activity.
In Bisheh (15min, March 2016) she continued her approach to produce connections, this time through the activity of correspondence, writing a letter to a friend who is far from you, thereby dealing with effects of distance and borders. We could call it a video-love letter. Three women are practicing with materials of their lives, as a practice of resistance, to get ready for the possible risks that may happen outside.
After a discussion about Mary Ana’s film-practices, Babak Salimizadeh presented his experiences and notes on queer art as a practice of freedom. He asks how artistic practices help us to understand how we affect and are affected by others. What are the ties that bind and unbind us?
In the second part of the workshop, they took the example of LGBTIQ refugees in UNHCR interviews, controlling sexuality at the borders, and norms of recognition under observation, and explored the questions: What experiences did you have with international organizations during your migration? To tell the truth about your desire as if you know the truth about yourself? What kind of narration and forms of self-evidence would one find? How did this influence the way we understand our desire? What kind of feelings produced therein? Did we feel safe? Feel bad? Getting ready for the interview, how to document and present our life? Feel stressed? How depression takes role, what images still remained there?
Babak says: In the asylum system, each person is considered as separated from the others and must take care of his/her own case and follow his/her own benefits, whereas each of them in their previous countries were not one, but many; i.e. members of a group or a community of friends. In the workshop we tried to go beyond those norms and invent another frame, other questions and answers –even laugh at them. Together the participants of the workshop prepared texts, circulated papers, images and gestures where while reinventing the interview.
Contrary to normal documentaries in which LGBTIQ refugees are allowed to talk about themselves (usually as victims), they tried to practice and talk as the other, or instead, discuss about the limits of that connection to the other. The participants to shared notes, drawing, videos or stories of life, arts of the closet, practices of minorities or individuals when they walked around the borders and boundaries of a queer travel.