As a series of landscapes and interiors rendered for the stage (40 minutes), Sahra Motalebi’s Sounds from Untitled Skies (2015) implicates in its staging the subjective processes underlying the artist’s experience of place, offering a convergence as well of choral sound fields, rhythmic vocal beats along with compositions that source inspiration from classical Art Song repertoires and Persian modal singing. Each of its six scenes are built on snippets from journals, poems, news articles which render specific places —a bombed-out city, unmediated natural landscapes, and a burning banquet table among them. Motalebi herself is in—and outside the frame—both narrator and actor, as well as architect—having constructed individual maquettes and projecting images of them here as stage-sets referencing her interest in 18th-century European paper architecture and then early experimental theater as seminal moments in the history of artistic representation. This work brackets the authoritative status of “history” and “historicity” in our experience of place, by juxtaposing the cinematic formatting with the hand-made, disposable material qualities of the sets themselves. Motalebi suggests that whatever its medium, the artist’s relationship to her memory and its representation is only ever a spectral collision of images, concepts, and fiction.
2015 Sounds from Untitled Skies
The Kitchen, New York, NY
Hydra School Projects Hydra, Greece
Marfa Live Arts at the Crowley Theater, Marfa, TX
This project was created with the generous support of Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Kitchen, Marfa Live Arts, Spoken Glass Productions.