deck of cards


The Deck of Cards
When I was a little girl we lived very close to Foster Beach in Chicago. We went there so often that it seemed like our backyard. I remember being very joyful and playing there. I remember picking many many yellow flowers from the lawn and giving them to my mother.
When I was a little older we moved and then we lived close to Loyola Beach. Again, here is where we spent most of our free hours in good weather. We would take family with us when they came from Iran.
One day we met at the beach with a big group of family, many of them were from out of town. We picnicked on the grass of this long expanse of public beach. I remember wondering where my father and most of the men of our group had disappeared to, and in the nimble way of my seven year old self. I quietly snuck around to find them.
Finally, they appeared a small group of them behind a bunch of scraggly bushes. They were squatting on the ground, playing cards. I wondered to myself, “Why are they behind the bushes?” I asked my mom, it was because they were playing for money, and this ‘gambling’ was not allowed on our public beaches.
When I was little, my parents would often get together with other young persian families, sometimes they were our family and sometimes they were friends. For me they were an entire groups of Aunties and Uncles, I loved to be with them. Here my parents were like the other grown-ups. They were at ease, they were not lonely, they had friends, that looked like them, spoke like them. It was so very special for me, as I wandered around in smaller, apartment spaces, then larger homes, as the families grew wealthier. One thing I remember very fondly were the card games. Inevitably, at every party, my father would finally, get together to play cards. It was very grown-up. It was what the men would do. Rarely, would women play cards. As a little girl, I would sit at the card table, and one of my dad’s friends, or maybe my dad, might ask me to sit next to them for luck. And some of them, when they won, would joyfully give me a little of their money.
Women didn’t play cards and they didn’t smoke cigarettes either. Women didn’t play cards except for my very sophistocated grandma, who played cards regularly with her women friends. Grandma baked great, melt in your mouth, butter cookies with chocolate chips on them and the most fantastic persian rice dishes, sometimes for forty, in her very very tiny kitchen in her and my grandfather’s apartment in queens, and grandma played cards. My grandfather would somehow disappear and we would be sent away and grandma set up a card table in her living room and her very sophisticated women friends would come to play cards. Some of them smoked. The ladies brought their teeth to these games, they seemed like serious players. The card playing part of my grandma’s life was very important to her, and for m,e she seemed to turn into someone else when she was getting ready to play. She seemed somehow more worldly.

Amoungst the flotsum and jetsom of the deluge that mass media produced post 911, were a real gem, the bicycle brand,
Playing Cards
This is how the print on the package of playing cards looked like. I had wanted to include a scan of these card in this article, but I knew I would need copyright, so a description will have to do.

I pick up the box of cards, they are still practically brand new. I love the feel of them in my hands, the soft glossy thick paper cardboard box so perfectly rectangular. The box is printed in chamouflage, light green with brown and green designs on them. On the face of the box are the above words. On the long side of the box, is printed,
The United States Playing Card Company
Cincinnati Ohio
On the backside of the box are these words
THE (these next words are obstructed by a the seal that closes the box, that says, USA, HOYLE PRODUCTS, Cincinnati, OH), and then, PLAYING CARD …..more words obstructed by the seal….TO PRESENT THE IRAQI MOST WANTED PLAYING CARD DECK, FIRST ISSUED BY THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY AND THE U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND IN IRAQ IN APRIL, 2003.

Beneath these words are a small facsimilie of the cards, including the ace of spades which is has Saddam Hussein’s photograph on it.
I pick the box of card up and turn it in my hands. I have always love the feel of a new box of cards, so full of possibility, play, shuffling, building house card structures (footnote persian rugs, why easy to build house of cards). Throughout my life a box of cards has always had a special meaning. How you could always afford a new box of cards to do something with, decorate a funky origami lampshade…I have always love the shape and design of cards, rectangular with rounded edges, cardboard and plastic coated, the fantastic red pattern on the back, the fact that so many playing cards are used in the city of Las Vegas.

I open the box of cards. They have that same slithtey feel in my hands. The perfect fit in my light grasp, always ready for a fancy shuffle and flip. Left hand hold between thumb and forfinger, right hand hold between thumb and third and forth. Left hand grasping the card steady on the width, Right hand on the length slip sliding the cards stacked on each other in the left, up and down, ready for the deal or the shuffle. Then the shuffle, deck of cards in cradled in the left hand, the right hand lifting sections of cards and mixing them into the others, this is what the nice weight and plastic coating is for, I think to myself. I’ve got pretty agile card hands. So many card games played since childhood, games of solitare on the, on so many kinds of floors, I loved the bold red and black patterns as they took form, I played on beds…on kitchen tables, on persian rugs. The cards slip out of the box without me thinking about and the hands slither them around. We did magic trick with cards. I still remember a few.

And here in my hands are the audacious, Iraqi Most Wanted Playing Cards, The Bicycle company’s big fxxx you to me, after so many years of my loyalty to the brand. Yummy like food those cards were to me.
But this insult nothing like what the people who dealt with Patriot act confinement had to deal with. People whose lives were uprooted and terrorized by unfounded detainment. Me, I am hopefully protected by my US citizenship. My parents getting green card and citizenship at my early age, me born here. Oh, fxxx you, US. Thank you for the freedom and the insult. Thanks for promising it and taking it away.
I grew into an identity and then how you treat me is a betrayl of it. nations cannot be our homes, ever but somehow homeland, implies this, “backhome,” the way my mother said it refers to Iran, meant that some ‘where’ was home. And there wasn’t for me, or perhaps it is in some stretch of my imagination, and here, I cobble home together as well as an identity, always, picking and choosing meanings to situations, creating allegiances where by, like so many card hands that shift mid-game, with so many strategies to produce one result or another, and along needing, ‘luck’ at every turn.

The quickly changing, challenging roulette of the moment, margin living in the center, is my center, hold your hand close to your heart, hearts, hearts and spades. Put your heart out on your sleeve but keep it locked in a crystal cage living. Where winning is loosing and loosing is winning. In the always temporary hand where each card could be the joker, because of the way you decide to play it, living. Where it never really needs to matter cause you need to ramble, like the gambler, going, never home, holding, reading tells, telling tales, bluffing, till you let it go, and the walls fall down, and you lay down you hands, and promise you won’t be playing again, playing, praying, for the promise that you won’t have to play the game any longer and you wonder if after all, it


three caveots

three caveots

Three Caveots

Parts of my larger work, deals specifically with the subject of embodiment and Somatics. To this end, there are three caveats I would like to make to clarify my intentions. These statements apply in every instance that the below concepts are handled.

1) On moving- One of the main ideas of my research is to remind us that there is knowledge in human movement. That movement can be knowing, can create meaning and can be important in the understandings and the interiority of a person, as they live in social relationship. To this end, I would like to bring to the reader’s attention, that when movement is referred to, it should be understood, not as only the small and large motor movement that the word usually connotes in the english language, but that subtle movement and micromovement be considered as almost more important in the definition. This means that the notion of movement as knowledge, can be as easily extended to a coma patient than it would be to a world class athlete. Many somatics practitioners and psychologists use this definition when referring to the idea of movement. (Da’oud, 2007)
2) On hearing-Throughout my research an extended notion of ‘hearing’ is implied when the word is used. The definition employed will include the hearing that occurs when the skin is touched by vibration. This expands the notion of hearing to a larger scope than is usually implied by the word.
3) On somatics-Within my research there will be reference to the idea of somatics. Generally, this refers to practices, psychology and philosophies that have been developed world wide which consider the body and mind as one, and name themselves somatics. At this point, I would like to acknowledge that many of the practices that have been used and developed in the west and name themselves under this umbrella term, practice technologies which have been learned from eastern or indigenous cultures. In some cases, these origins have been credited, in others they have not. Here, I would like to acknowledge this, and state that some of the practices which I have learned and are used in the process of creating my work, have their origins in body mind technologies of groups of people whose work has not been credited. It is my intention that as my research continues, I will work more with this issue and help to correct this intellectual and cultural injustice.


Ubiquitous Two

Ubiquitous Two

The Persian Document (Ubiquitous Two)- (notes)

While writing, at this time, in the back of my head, I have had this idea or rather this nagging voice in my head, or this reminder, this reminder to write ‘The Persian Piece’.

The notes for ‘The Persian Piece,’ are scattered all over my other works, in a form that looks like this,
(note: iranican, race, puar, queer)
(note: grandma’s apartment in queens, inside outside)
(note: world trade center, finger’s pointing, Uncle David at tower when first built, Lila, showing me piece of the sky with her, that was left there, post 911, the sky that you couldn’t see before),
(note: land of sand and fog, Iranian masculinity, stereotyping, how could kingsley make such a movie)
(note: Iranian woven baby shoes first in mom’s drawer then in mine.)
(note: persian language: can’t speak but understand, never fully in that world, little girl listening to grown ups entering that world by understanding but never being able to articulate myself there, pattern that stayed with me)
(note: first real incident of obvious racial profiling, I believe I’ve experienced, at the bank last month, the bank manager, who I complained about before for treating a Hispanic woman poorly, using her name, over and over again, while scolding her for reasons I thought unfounded, saying to me, what an interesting name, where is that from, with a tone, I found hard to believe, I lied and said it was a Turkish name, in this guys head, better to be Turkish, I thought than Iranian, than Iraqi, than perhaps even Jewish to this fellow, I thought, no telling where the prejudice is coming from here, no way anyone can ask that question in a friendly way).
(note: department head at a research one institute as a joke puts a large foam rubber “king tut” party hat on the department’s graduate directors head. He doesn’t really stop to think that this might be ethnically offensive)
(note: talking to the most likely, guys from Pakistan on the bus corner, one of the guys was chewing on some kind of thing that looked like a stick, I knew it was good for teeth and mouth, I watched him, till he got angry at me, then asked him about it, I had been looking for something like this for a long time, and then the three of them talked to me about it, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, can get it at middle eastern stores. I wanted to say. I am not on the outside. I am from there too, but I am not)

Notes like this littered all over my floor. All over my computer. For a piece, I can’t bring myself to articulate.
A way that this troubling, yet wonderful, identification, I lived with as a child, causing much confusion, some alienation, but always a sources of pride and wonder, because, yes, for me, being with my persian family, being a part of this group, living part time in this world, was wonderful, it was rich and brought so much to my life, my experience of everything good and many things hard, my sense of what it was to be a young girl, then a woman, informed by the persian dancing, raxk iruni. I did with my family at weddings, those beautiful women, with the smoky colors on their eyelids, those were my mother. That beautiful woman with the heavy dark eyes and thick rich lips, my grandmother, yes, my grandmother’s house smells delicious from food in a way most people can only wonder and wish about, yes, I know how to communicate with my grandmother, who spoke only a nominal English, farsi most of the time, and Arabic in special occasions, since I was a little girl I would track, when and how and who she was, as she shifted from language to language and I was her little grand daughter who would go to visit her in New York City, sleep on her floor which was layered with large persian rugs cause they had so many, that they had to put on the floor in layers.
I knew about how you had to turn rugs, how you had to care for rugs because we had a few at home. I was the one that grandma would just laugh for joy around. She brought out huge piles of bedding from the hall closet of her small one bedroom apartment for our family to sleep on, on the rugs in the living room floor, six of us…our nuclear family, and my uncle, sometimes the door to the balcon (balcony) open to let in the sweet air from 21 stories, high up in the new york city skyline, where the city dirt and grime cannot reach.

My knowledge of persian culture is intimate. I know as first and second nature, who we are and how we are different and how we had to struggle to keep ourselves and give ourselves away. I am naïve about the culture, I grew up in it and lost it in someways, as an adult but always it is a part of me. That world has my loyalty. And now, she and I, I and she have become public. It was a privledge and a burden to have our group fall into invisibility, ethnically, racially?, when I was growing up. There was very little outside of us, to point to, to reflect back me to myself, it was something like my name, that I was always spelling out to people. My mother did a wonderful job, turning our life knowledge into “culture” and inviting people over or giving presentations at school, on our culture.

(note: media-outside stereotyping, post 911, more ‘arab’ villains in television shows, the photos next to the twin towers of the ‘arab men’ with beards presented as the towers fall over and over again, the towers fall into a panic, the falling is cultivated into a panic, the panic is connected to fear of bodies, bodies that are the ones in those photo, bodies that look like the ones in those photos, people that look like those bodies, look like my friends and family and like me…but not so much the women, I take note, on the tv show 24 a full season to family, Family, FAMILY, of middle eastern terrorist, father terrorist, a generic middle eastern family, who I believe is supposed to be Turkish, but whose house in Southern California, looks much like the persian houses I have been in, Persian/Iranian?, why do I use persian, not Iranian, because my mother did, why am I complaining? No one has come after me. Not yet, anyways, never mind that the security guard at the airport freaks when I tell him my family is Iranian. Am I Iranian? Am I transnational, I’ve only lived in the states, in France for a short time in college, like an American kid would. I watch profiled at the bank for the first time. Hearing the slur, persian cooz, dirty dirty on the persian woman’s vagina on television. I know my project puts me on some list somewhere, though I have a US passport and I can talk American, not even, academic American, regular working class American with the rest of them. And always, I am Jewish and in a bigger and smaller way than I understand, and I wonder why do I have to have these divisions. Why is it always an either or, or a division I have to navigate and I know it is because of the politics, identity politics, race politics, religious politics and representations which make divides in lives like mine, that otherwise have no divides. To explain to a European Jew that we/ I am a different kind of jew, not part of the tribe, but part of the tribe because of race/ethnicity, and have them belittle my explanation (shohat..the books, stolen, the power, mizrahi), and then watch a roomful of them make a stereotype that insults a Iraqi Jewish scholar, at a Jewish Studies Workshop, because they don’t know the difference. The European Jews on a whole make a point of cherishing we the oddity, they visit and send money to the Jews in Cuba. In my assimilated middle class jewish neighborhood, there were always the dark ones, the different ones, the ones with no money, our family, and the large group of Russian immigrants, they didn’t speak English well, they lived in apartments. By talking about this I mean to make no anti-semetic remark, is it possible though to say this without seeming anti-semitic, these people, some of them, are still my very good friends. Can I say this without seeming anti-semitic. I was relieved, when people who were of other ethnicities moved into the neighborhood, the Korean family down the block, the family from Cuba around the corner, at last some relief, from being the only ones that were different.

The politics which make divisions where there are none but naming in a way that retains hegemonic power. Jewish as white, happened recently in the US, and we were non-whites. Persians/Iranians were a relatively invisible minority, until the US needed to/chose to racialize bodies for a simple reason to go to war. I explain to my father, that I do ‘arab’ American studies, though we are not arab, I say it over and over again. We don’t speak the Arabic language and we are not from the countries considered Arabic in the middle east, but here now, we are arabs. I think of my grandma who spoke Arabic, I think it is ok to say I am doing a work on being Arab-American. The division are not on the inside of me….all of this situated flows into my identity space, my experience, Are we indegenous, I wonder, some people say, the Iraqi Jews are indegenous, I check on the internet…..

Fine when it is all in me….transnational? postcolonial? A girl whose mom took her to school and made sure her daughter was not over looked for the better, higher level classes at the better Chicago public schools, she was attending, and it all would have been fine if I had left it at that and stayed only Jewish.

But now the cache has been broken. The images in the media and the layer of prejudice it conducts slathers a sameness over all of us, and I mean all of us. Not just us, who would be called arabs, but those who are not as well, those who are considered “white” (am I white, my skin is light, I have been considered white by many), those who are called Hispanic. Generalities? Stereotypes, US culture is built on them, created to other and use, cover for politic. When people say someone does identity politics, and uses this as a negative, they are completely inaccurate, identity is politics, and those of us who study this are not making something up, we are talking about something very real.

(note: media stereotyping ‘arabs’, media racializing ‘arabs’) and to watch this happen, to feel this happen, to have brawny young college students seem kind of afraid of me at dusk waiting for a light, right after 911, is intense and it rubs up against my memory of the private way my family was persian, in a difficult and different way. I say to my sister, now, there are Arabic looking grandmas at the mall and they look at me and recognize that I look like someone who is like them. My sister understands, I am happy. This identification, all identity politics, is changing us all, now, daily. I go to the Iranian student’s association meeting, I can’t speak to anyone there, I don’t speak Farsi, I feel awkward speaking to the people there in English. I watch a webcast of a political debate, one of the debates, before the green revolution. I can’t follow the farsi, its too fast and grown-up, not anything like the language we spoke at home. I go to a vigil on campus, in support of the people being hurt in the summer protests. I feel like an outsider, until someone I know from parties recognizes me. I start to meet people there, there is an uneasiness, in the socializing, for everyone, until we know who each other is, we don’t, suspicions and strong political divides.
(note: Iranian produced media, internet communities, persepolis, music, etc..huge, iranican race, maz jabrani, etc)
(note: persian woven baby shoes, in mom’s drawer, in my drawer.) (note: persian engraved silver, rugs, coins) (note: green revolution, internet) (note: Iranian filmmakers, creativity) (note:Googosh, mom, googish’s haircut in the 70’s, and mom’s, self-fashioning) (note: the green revolution, Joan Baez singing in farsi, other rock stars, twitter, the internet)
It is the summer of the Green Revolution, I am taking a walk in my neighborhood. I run into a wonderful professor from another department, he asks me how my dissertation is going, I say, I just talked to someone, who did some of the international computer work, keeping communications open for the protestors in Iran, I say I want to write about this. He says no! Just make that an epilogue. I think how can I?
The notes, they are everywhere, I notice the decorative pieces persian pieces that my mother sent to me before she died. They are enameled metal, with persian designs on them. They are shaped like the fancier pieces made of silver that I inherited after she died. These pieces were the ones we could play with, the others were for show, except for the mini silver samarvar set, that we all wanted when we were splitting the things up. For some reason that was ok to play with. These pieces, they sit in my cluttered apartment and once in a while my eyes settle on them. The piece of cloth with a printed persian design on it, colors, curves and curls, something that was maybe a pillowcase or a bag that she opened into a cloth, because for us, for a while this pieces of culture were so hard to find.

(note: Funny in farsi, reading Lolita in Teheran, male Iranian scholar comes to campus, claims these writers are self-orientalizing, makes the comparison to ‘house negroes’.)
Jump the scholarly bandwagon, topic in vogue, orientalism, self-orientalism. Have I done this?
Have I jumped the bandwagon?
Do I self orientalize?
I give up.
I say I self orientalize, of course I do, but that does not mean I don’t belong.
How could you be of the ‘orient’ and live in the US and not self-orientalize? Complicated,
but I certainly don’t like some middle easterners saying that others ‘self-orientalize’.
Who claims authenticity and who claims the right to say this?

There is already enough.
The notes they are everywhere. Notes I have written. Notes, others have written.
(note; Iranians opting for model minority status)
MIT group of scholars, create organization, say Iranians are the most successful minority in the US today.
Sister interviewed for Iranian radio, first jewish Iranian American woman to win emmy award.
Website: Iranian jazz fusion band in Amsterdamn, youtube, Iranian parcours, Iranian heavy metal band.
News-US worried about iran nuclear buildup.
Identity Politics.
My childhood, my grandma’s house, the inside and outside balconys.

Lila and uncle davids fingers wtc
The shoes in the drawer…
The notes they are everywhere……

Beverly Hills Iranian Americans-W magazine
The Shahs of Sunset
The silver in the storage…

Simple really who one chooses to be, how one chooses to love….intro…love contested…control love…..control a lot…

Obama-McCain..I’m afraid, Obama is an Arab, No, he’s not an Arab he’s a good person, like us.
On job applications, I check the box. On the minority card….white, includes middle-eastern. I cross this line out, I check Asian.
Note: The remarkable creativity and prolificness of transnational Iranians as producers of culture, Sister’s film project, America 1979

Ubiquitous (one) (traces, tracing)

For some people belonging is ubiquitous, like the air we breathe, unnoticed until a situation is presented where air or breath or a lack of it is noticed. For me, a sense of belonging is somehow always understood, defined, by a lack of the sense of the opposite, defined by the lack of a quality of not belonging. A surprise, when that feeling happens, my eyes sparkle, my heart warms. This feeling does not come often to me for a series of reasons, a biculturality forged in colonialisms, estrangement from my family of origin, the decision to be an artist/intellectual, being queer, being from a poor/working class background, and finding myself  increasingly around people with more ‘monied’, ‘comfortable’ backgrounds. People with ‘means’.

The cultural implications of being raised as a child in the United States with parents from Iran, certainly plays a role in this. In beginning to put the closing touches on this work. I sensed something missing, there is something left to say, something intangible missing. As I struggled to put words to it, images of certain objects that I keep in my home, come to mind. These objects that often while writing, come into my line of vision, and I take note and say to myself, “you should write about this…these objects….these objects…” These things that were in my family of origin’s house, or that my mother later gave to me, are placed all around me, are Persian objects. They are mostly small objects, a candy dish, a pair of woven baby slippers, a small decorative savarvar, a book of illustrated poetry by Hafez, the Persian grammar books that sat on our family bookshelves ever since I remember, a piece of printed cloth that my mother gave me to cover the surface of a table.

These objects are place in strange spots in my apartment, they are not fancy, they are special and sweet. And I don’t seem to notice them, until I do. Some of them have been with me for a long time. I would miss them if they were gone, in a way they are ubiquitous to me, in my space, in my life.

When I was a girl and a young woman, I was surrounded by interesting, strong women in my family and they were so beautiful to me, with their large dark eyes and strong boned faces. Their English spoken with strong accents, that would foray into pharsi for a more intimate or comfortable conversation. The English seemed put on, something they tried at, when they spoke pharsi, the rhythm and comfort changed. It seemed they would disrobe from their English selves into their Persian ones. To me, it seemed they would return. Return, when they spoke Pharsi. These are women who are supremely sophisticated, weather they shopped at K-Mart, garage sales, or Rodeo Drive. They had been tried and they won. Suceeded in moving form one culture. to another, my mother, grandmother, aunts and cousins. They were and are interested, interesting, strong, smart and their meanings are nuanced with many layers. They are not necessarily ‘well educated’ or wealthy but they are cultured.  They are cultured because they have to be, to work things out. While I live without them near me , their way of being is ubiquitous in the everyday ways that I approach the cells around me, as I breathe, belonging.

Belonging is not ubiquitous, but being a part of the way they were is.

In the corner on the second shelf of the corner bookshelf is a smile pile of ‘Persian books’, included in this pile is M Satrapi’s, “Persepolis,” a graphic novel rendering of Satrapi’s leaving Iran as a teenager during the Islamic Revolution, there are also two fifty year old persian grammars that were a part of my parents book collection, there are a few books in farsi. (I don’t know what they say but my friend Jake who learned Farsi in the US Navy, once told me what the titles of these books meant, they belonged to my mother), there is a contemporary magical realism novel called, “Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith,” on the tope of this pile of books is a pair of children’s house slippers, the tops hand woven in red fine thread, with thin wooden bottoms and tassles. The shoes are shorter than the length of my hands. They have never been used and I have no idea how old they are. They are from Iran. These kinds of patterns have a  way of speaking to me about who I am.

I think I picked up these baby slippers from my mother’s things after she died. Along with my mother’s cooking pots, her big (deigs), that she used for making large family sized portions of delicious aromatic rice, (rice with orange peels and raisins, rice with lima beans and dill), for the large family parties she would throw.

My mom was married to the oldest son of the family. She would throw large Persian parties for my dad’s family, she would cook for days and never really enjoy the parties. She felt obligated to do this because my father was the oldest. I know and recite this to myself as if it were the lines on the palms of my hand.

These baby slippers and other things like the big deigs and small glasses, estekan, for tea, small silver spoons, clink, clink, clinking on the sides of the small glasses of tea sitting on small glass saucers, tea glasses too hot for my child hands to hold, clink, clink at family gatherings larges and small, small glasses in large man’s hands, as we all sat in the circle listening to one another speak. How many times have I heard the clink, clink of these glasses, and they were never ubiquitous for me, they were something, as a part of a situation, that always carried wonder for me, a stop.

There were an extraordinary part of ordinary daily life in my common but not often, family get togethers. This was part of home to me, always different and other than the life I was used to. Home, our family get-togethers, was a different place to me, always observing my own difference from theirs.

Clink, clink as you drop one or two cubes of sugar into your tea, fancy silver tea glass holders for special occasions, into always earl grey tea, prepared by putting one pot of water on top of the other on the stove. My mother teaching me to do this in the same way she taught me to make Persian rice, always fluffier, each grain separate as she showed me with her fingers, our special rice, our different tea, the presence and preparation of these two constant and everyday staples in our home markers of difference from outsiders, outsiders, which kind of  included me.

I was taught these things, as a special way, so that I could know who ‘we’ really were. So when time came around I could perform ‘we’ if I wanted to. So that the special skills, of what made us who we were, would not be lost to me in my own daily life, in those small, quiet and specially ordered places where the repetitions of  these crafts added a knowledge of how we functioned in the everyday, to how I would become myself in the everyday. What could be available to myself, as I became in the everyday, as my mothers daughter, the Persian American girl named Nazee at home, Desire in the daytime outside. Who was taught at an early age, how to take the tea on a tray to my aunts and uncles, cousins and friends talking in a circle at my maman bozorg, grandmothers house, the two the bifurcation, Nazee, Desiree, Maman bozorg, grandmother, always present.

The tea, the rice, always present, never ubiquitous, the bifurcation, always present, so completely ubiquitious. That writing this, the ah-ha is enourmous. That special feeling when you notice the ubiquitous.

Seeking  is a daily experience, when what you experience regularly, daily, as habit, is not ubiquitous, and then what is ordinary, is not ubiquitous, and then is absent. It is as if there is something of my own essence in the sweet warm spell of Earl Grey prepared Persian style. I picked up the baby slippers from my mom’s things after she died. My mother too would keep these kind of objects, in strange places. In our fancy living room we had Persian rugs on the floor and engraved silver. In our modest home, these objects screamed a strange splendor, but Persian baby slippers placed carefully in a drawer makes a tender sense.

I have in my topsy turvey artist studio home a wooden chest of drawers. In these drawers I keep some of my finer clothes. I also keep some of my older favorite clothes. Hand painted silk, finely knit cotton, well-designed, hand painted, hand sewn, the things I want to preserve are in these drawers. They have a special kind of order, these thing are marked as being where the fine things are, specially kept aside, rarely disturbed, special, habitual, and also ubiquitous. In these drawers, I also have some strange objects, keepsakes, a small empty silver frame I found in my mother’s things, some lace doilies, she made. I another of these clothing drawers I keep my important documents, passport and social security card.

In these drawers, with my finery, are the things I don’t want to loose, and the things I don’t want to forget. My mother did a similar thing, always putting things in strange places.  She would hide chocolate cookies in the china cabinet. In my mothers life, every closet or drawer would have a set apart hidden section. The back corner of the closet, on the outside side of the organizer that held our cutlery in the kitchen drawer, on the front of the top shelf of the cabinet under the sink, behind the towels in the bureau in the bathroom, on the top of the china cabinet, and she would put small keepsakes in the drawers with her finer clothes. When I found these baby slippers, I imagined that they sat in the drawers with her scented finery.

Small objects, for use, but never been used as intended, objects where the curve of the line reminds of you something, in strange out of the way places. Out of the way places, but places where the focus is constant,

Those places you rarely visit, the china cabinet, the drawer of finer clothes. Spaces that are rarely used, but well intended, the medicine cabinet, the place where the light bulbs are kept, the place where I keep extra pens and paper.  Baby slippers, things that are meant for one thing but holds the meaning for another, placed in these out of the way, rarely visited well-intended spaces, somewhat hidden and very ubiquitous places.

My mother, when she was living in Santa Monica, ripped apart a small pillowcase that had a traditional Persian print on it and turned it into two pieces of cloth. It was a nothing so special pillowcase, but cute. She put it into an envelope and mailed to me, twenty years ago. I have this cloth covering the surface of a wooden crate that holds some of my writings. I look at its sometimes and wonder to myself. Why did she send this to you? Why did you keep it?


More To Come….

Welcome to my Blog. Here I have decided to post some of the artwork and performance I have done recently as part of my academic work, or otherwise. This blog shares only a bit of what I have done recently. Right now, I am working on a series of time lapse photos of myself in movement and context that explore the somatics of the transnational as relationship (culture)  that I live. These photos will eventually become video, but as part of the dissertation , stills will be presented. This performance autoethnography work is based in a movement methodology that I have cobbled together from the fields of Communication/Performance Studies, Improvisational Performance and Feminist Postcolonial Art. For this project, there are also sound piece derived from improv methods infused with somatic thinking, as well as the influences by the greats such as Pauline Oliveros and Abby Lincoln….

As these things bring themselves together, I will post bits and pieces on this blog. If you, dear viewer/reader are interested in seeing any of this work before it is posted, please let me know, I will be happy to oblige.

Thanks so much,


We Share Air. We, Share, Air, A Photo Essay

Summer 2009, I ask my friend and sometimes studio assistant Jacob Crawford to help me with a project. This is an article revision for a piece I wrote for an important Qualitative Research Journal. third revision. I decide to take it to the prairie. The slideshow below is a part of the larger series of photos that ensued. 

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Dialogic One: Walking the Line OR The Global Subject

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Dialogic One: Walking the Line OR The Global Subject

This piece was performed along with Dialogic Two (see previous blog post) for a select audience at the Channing Murray Foundation, Winter , 2004. This blog post includes a slide show of the items I made as backdrops. I produced a sound piece for this which includes music and spoken one liners from people I knew who are bilingual. I asked the question, “What is the power of language?” and asked them to answer in one sentence, half the statement in English, our shared language and the other in the language they speak besides for English. Some people spoke their answer in three languages. The results were quite beautiful, hearing intonation and meaning take form in this way. The sound piece is not included in this blog post because of the necessary permissions.

Detailed stills of the performance are forthcoming.

Thank You!

Dialogic One: Walking the LIne OR The Global Subject

origins            displacement

the cracks the fissures the economic the education the immigrant memory longing belonging desire

deep the loss lostculture language….by those forced to flee..or who look to a new world because of

oppressive conditions at home at hope or who need to travel to earn a buck

structure mobility class

as the subject of globalization has come to be of critical importance in the twentieth/twenty first century, I feel it is important to address the fracturing which happens, as people move from culture to culture, language to language. We move, in this world, some with more means and choices than others, there is always something left behind, some things we carry with us, and some things we carry only parts of. Like my mother’s piles of beautiful heavy, gold jewelry,  her dowry in Iran, carried with her to the United States, never sold, not even in the leanest of times, now in the hands of her children, after her death, who wait for the right day to wear it, WE WHO MOVE around the earth, are parts of a story, speak through fragments of a language, are as often out of context as we are in context.

Nevertheless, our wholeness is here, always with us, to the left of our right hands and to the right of our left eye. With this piece I look upon the shards of my linguistic identity, with a view to the positive. As a child I encountered a great deal of difficulty and confusion in my dual language life. In my teenage and adult years, it has been very hard to reconcile the different identities, desires and sense of community, my triple cultures require of me. at times these differences brought me to opposite sides of the same question when making life choices, coming to very different solutions as a dutiful Persian daughter and an independent American woman. in time, as I had the opportunity to belong in more cultural contexts, I found that participation in language or culture could be a choice. this helped me to reframe my languages and cultures of origins in a different kind of understanding. While it is still difficult for me, more and more, I allow myself to move between these world, where so many meaningful occurances have happened in such  different contexts, with greater ease, more, and more, as understanding mends these spaces together, the picture pieces of my life become whole. as I celebrate my ability to choose how to navigate these worlds through my identity, I feel I am no longer constantly walking the line between worlds and languages, and I welcome the  new worlds that I will enter.

we don’t communicate by what we say but how we are

we Are everything we are in every moment.


In space

How do we dare?

How do we dance to this?

i have decided not to be surprised by gifts

and look

for the joy that is there

please peace


Dialogic Two: Climbing the Walls OR The Subjective Body, movement piece

Dialogic Two: Climbing the Walls OR The Subjective Body

This piece was originally performed at the Channing Murray Foundation, Winter 2003, for a select audience, a revised version was later presented at the Crossroads in Cultural Studies. in Urbana, Illinois, June 2004.

The accompanying Slideshow contains a few photos from the conference performance. I was joined on floor by Brenda Arteman and Alice Filmer, who at the last became performers. My special thanks goes to Miguel Malagreca, Daniele Nucera, Claudio Moriera and Sukki Yoon for holding up the backdrops! A link to you tube accompanies this post. This is the sound piece I made especially for the performance. A series of more detailed stills of the performance at Channing Murray are forthcoming. The photos on the backdrops are from very various print and internet sources. The represent people who are the politicians, protesters, soldiers, and those on ground where war is being found on the land where they live. The photos of the conference presentation were taken by Olivette Otele, thanks to her as well.

Sound piece:

Thank You.

Dialogic Two: Climbing the Walls OR The Subjective Body

Human body concept is something which changes according to the dominant cultural concept. As individuals we all carry our own concept of body…according to the way our psychology and body have grown together. Within the work I do, we refer to the physical/perceptive organism as the soma. The soma is what a human being is when the body and the mind are no longer considered separate. Somatic therapies have made unique progress in working with the psyche and physical states, in health and dis-ease. The sensory, the matrix with which we perceive the sensory, think through and plan and move, live and breathe with our the same. Somatic therapies are based on concepts of the body which depart from the notion that our minds are in control of, or can tell our bodies what to do.

Socially, bodies are constructed through language, symbols, images and policing modalities carried out in space. Psychologically, each person has a concept of themselves and their body that has been influenced by the above, and the experience they have had personally relating to sexuality, body, image, food, and their experience of time and space through things like music, culture, how the built environment is constructed, etc. A person understands themselves in these ways as beings in time and space. How a person understands themselves in time and apace, is crucial to the way she relates to herself, others and her environment. Fro me, this is a critical piece in understanding the way human communication activates the way that our worlds are built and how much power each individual, or group has in the making of our worlds.

While individual agency is located in the body, through mediums of choice, activity and states of being, the primary form of policing done by organizations of dominance occur at the sit of the body. Physical threat, violence, and the allotment of resources have leverage at the site of physical existence. What are the implications, if we shift our imagination to include the definition of the soma at the level of the physical? How do the social and cultural influence how we understand ourselves in present movements in time and space? What could an understanding of this mean in terms of the way we carry out our daily lives? Especially, in the case of daily life under the influence of  non-democratic dominant socio-cultural influence, how does the soma hold up? How do these influences afect the way we experience our being? How can an understanding of Somatics help us to have an agency in being, that can serve as grassroots resistance to dominant cultural forces? How do we, as senders and receivers of communicative messages, as interpreters have the power to change the way existence in bodies, in space is, to make new kinds of spaces?

These are the kinds of questions this piece begins to answer for me.

Culturally, who humans are as bodies are defined by the transmission of worldviews. These are the transmissions through ontologies, underlying healing modalities, musical structures, the technological/work phenomenon, the construction of space through architecture, movement and speech patterns, etc. In some of these forms of communications are influence which encourage a democratic notion of the body, ins some there are policing factors. This work, an auto-ethnography based in my experience in the 21st century western world, uses as its jumping off point, what I understand as a more ordinary physical point of view for, one could say,  a lot of people under the influence of the military-industrial complex, sitting, watching, reading, writing, moving from one place to another, experience within a notion of causality, bodies functioning to produce for us, functioning within roles, that are shadowed against the parameters of categories provided by the US Western Cultural worldview. The general idea of who we are as bodies is influenced by basic images of concepts of nature, gender, creation, work, and medicine. In this time of crisis, our sense of body is more strongly influenced by war, images and experience of humans as survivors, warriors, protestors and statesmen.  These symbols and activities are influencing factors on the global stage. One might wonder and research the structural, political or resource driven basis for these roes and activities, by my attention goes to the physical. That these happenings occur in the physical, that each of us is a body in these occasions. To bring the notion of the soma to this most complex of human situations is a beginning point for me. That each of us could me any of the other in this drama of violence, as a body.

My explorations through sound, movement and image will attempt to bring together some of the above ideas through a presentation of the “everyday body”, illustrations the quality of an “everyday” attention, and the presentation of other kinds of attention, from body states I have understood through working with the somatic modalities, Alexander Technique, and principles from Breema and Continuum movement. To equate attention sates with physical states, and understand the agency in being that comes with these changes in terms of the way we make and live in space, is where the magic begins for me. When we understand ourselves to be mind and body together, and horrors of war occur through actions of the body, what new avenues of resistance are available to us to affect change because of this new understanding? At its most basic building block, the social and cultural occur and produce it self within the activities, states and thoughts of the individual. Can we work with ourselves, our bodies, our reactions and responses, in order to make change?

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“The Song of my Grandmother’s House”, an Installation.

“The Song of My Grandmother’s House”  at the Channing Murray Foundation, Winter 2004. A spatial exploration of post-911 United States, Home and the Iraq War, an installation in three rooms.This installation also included two simple tape pieces. One that played in the ante room, was an account of a friend’s experience waiting for a plane in the Washington DC airport as the events of 911 occurred, the other was a a piece that was played very softly next to the spiral which people walked through and placed objects on. This tape piece was of people I knew phrasing, “loved one”, in many different languages. I recorded the voices of my friends and myself for this.

The Song of My Grandmother’s House

From Home.

This piece was originally conceived to answer the question- “How do we know what we know about events on a Global level?” As we live our lives in the spaces we call home, we feel constantly connected to national and international events. Being a daughter to parents who lived the earlier parts of their lives in Iran and a granddaughter to my grandmother who was raised in Iraq, answers to questions of how to reconcile the activities in the middle east, are rooted in my home experience with my parents and grandparents, the ways we sat, the food we ate, the holidays we celebrated, the ways in which we call each other dearly-from text I hear that my homelands are in crisis. As I hear from the media stories about bombings and killings,

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 I imagine disruption of homelives that were sometimes somehow similar to the ones I knew when growing up-

Being raised Jewish in the United States, as the children of Iranian parents. I imagine there is no more natural way to be- as I grew I understood my identity to be conflicted-the possibilities for US democracy I was raised to believe in and hold dear are severely curtailed-the homelands of my cultural identity and religious identity are opposed to one another. But home, the space where I lived and loved, is just home- we live, we survive, we love, we work, for worse and for better, in our person to person relationships in the spaces where we bodies exist. We call each other love.

So how is it that I am to reconcile this space of home?-this I make with smiles and frowns, grins and tears-sweat and fears-with the language which is offered to explain and conceive of global political situations. I know this knowledge is critical to obtain in order to be an active participant for change. But how is it that I am to apprehend this knowledge which arrives to me as text, media, stories of places where the painful things happen? Especially these days when almost all news is full of spin, offering conceptual labyrinths for entrance ways, I make this piece- I think about the way we make homes, in our daily living- and how news, important news from outside places influences us- Thanks for coming to my piece and a special thanks to all my loves- who make home with me-near and far-everyday and in the imaginary-may love prevail-Prayers for a holy and beautiful peace.


Photography: Miguel Malagreca. Special thanks to Claudio Moriera, Amy Aidman, Daniele Nucera, Andrew O’Baoill, Brenda Arteman, Anthi Archodichu and Sukki Yoon.

Paintings-acrylic on drafting film,various sizes

I paint, as I move, as I write, focusing large and magnifying subtle physical cues I/am. These paintings are a record of speed, weight, vector and impulse desires, choices and actions.

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