Directory of Portrayals is open-form opera that includes performances, exhibitions, and text. The work draws its structure from a libretto based on an ongoing, online exchange between myself and my sister, who lives in Iran. Though we bear a striking resemblance, we have never been able to meet in person before 2018. As this relationship and its context have expanded in the last few years, so too has the opera—its various media are interposed between various timescales of our global digital world. Complicated by its digital formatting, my relationship with my sibling has informed the opera’s experiments in narrativity and performance which speak to the current conditions of self, of intimacy and of knowledge—beyond material and geographical borders, at the limits of subjective projection and interchange. This story and its component parts play out against the backdrop of its own production, within which the opera moves between an elusive, speculative totality of an imagined full production, and its disparate, artifactual parts. Expanding and deconstructing limits of autobiography and representation, my roles as actor, director, architect, and composer are interspersed with historical texts, poetry, media files, and AI translation. The libretto will be published as a work of experimental auto-fiction edited by Annie Godfrey Larmon.

In 2016, I developed this work at the Watermill Center Residency in Long Island, NY and at the Villa Empain in Bruxelles, Belgium. The musical scores were first performed at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY. Also in 2016, a reading of the script was performed at the Prelude Festival at the CUNY. A version for the stage ran at The Kitchen in New York Dec 2017, followed by a Research Rehearsal with Swiss Institute and 80WSE in New York in the spring of 2018. It will be presented as this culminating exhibition-performance as part of the 2019 Whitney Museum of American Art’s 79th Biennial. The libretto will be published as a work of experimental auto-fiction edited by Annie Godfrey Larmon.

Many thanks to the 80WSE, Whitney Museum of American Art, Watermill Center, Boghossian Foundation, National Sawdust, The Kitchen, Swiss Institute, The National Arts Club, The Corporation of Yaddo, and the Graham Foundation.

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2017 @ Paula Court

2017 @ Paula Court

2017 © Paula Court

2017 © Paula Court

© Sahra Motalebi, Courtesy of the Artist

© Sahra Motalebi, Courtesy of the Artist

Courtesy Swiss Institute, © Daniel Perez

Courtesy Swiss Institute, © Daniel Perez

© Sahra Motalebi, Courtesy of the artist.

© Sahra Motalebi, Courtesy of the artist.

Prelude NY Festival © 2016 Paula Court

Prelude NY Festival © 2016 Paula Court