Shirin Bolourchi is a Kurdish-Iranian-American Visual Artist, Independent Curator, Writer, Poet and Blogger. Presently, she is living and working in an exile.
War is the deadliest performance act mankind has invented since its creation on this planet. As a child born on an icy December morning in Tehran-Iran, in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, as bombs fell on the city. I carry this burden with me, in my nightmares and my lens as an artist; from beautifully framed faces of “martyrs” in the Zahra’s Heaven (Tehran’s main cemetery) to the constant broadcast marches of teenagers in military outfits, adorned with “Ya Hossein”(1) bandanas. These were amongst faces of identity that surrounded my childhood, as a woman, in a post-revolutionary Iran.
While being surrounded by influential works of masters such as David Lynch and Philip Glass, I was in pursuit of avenues of expression, not only as Iranian but also as a female artist. as My modes of expression – theater, installation and video art, photography, writing and blogging – were shaped as a result of growing up in a constant moving landscape of a society in turmoil.
In 2004 I moved forth to receive my B.F.A. in Theater, from Tehran’s Sooreh Institute of Art (school of Drama), where I honed down my skills in inter-disciplinary forms of expression. In response to personal and cultural challenges on the path of adapting to the changing socio-political environment in Iran, I initiated numerous independent projects. Amongst others “Self Installation” is a series started in Tehran where I explored a new perspective and modes of vision towards my environment and the landscape in state of constant change – which continues to present day. The unique educational experience within the interdisciplinary art of theatre only deepened my thirst for further explorations.
However it was shortly after, that I was faced with watching army tanks in streets of Tehran, turning their guns on to the protesters, where I found my self being hunted for daring to ask for my own right as a human, as a citizen, and as woman, during the uprising known as The Iranian Green Movement (2) in Iran. Thus I had no choice but leave my birth land, and immigrate to Canada – perhaps amongst the hardest thing any human has to endure.
Hence the second phase of my artistic exploration was born: identity within the sphere of an immigrant. Immigration – fundamentally a process of deconstruction and reconstruction of the self – became a lens through which I created my work. Inspired by Stephen Shore and Elina Brotherus, on opposing ends of the spectrum, I began to explore a contrasting spectrum of presence: internal and external perspectives, in the form of video art, characterized by the developing technology of the mobile phone-camera. The resulting series of short instances documented a self-mediated experience, approaching every instance of reality as platform of performance.
At this juncture in my life, I want to urge to move beyond my previous artistic practice and engage in a much more in depth exploration of my identity as I have been since my days in streets of Tehran. However in this phase, my perspective is built not only as an immigrant, but more specifically as an Iranian female artist, transplanted into a 21st century post-digital western society. Furthermore I yearn for an un-edited environment where engaging in critical dialog and contributing to a culture of inquiry will guide my growth as an artist and as individual.
(1) Ya Hossein: a prayer to Imam Hossein, the holiest of messenger of God in the Shiai sect of Islam.
(2) The Iranian Green Movement: an unprecedented political movement that arose after the 2009 Iranian presidential election, in which protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from. The movement was crushed with brutal force by Iranian regime.