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» 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 Abbas Kia’rostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, I was in pursuit of avenues of expression, not only as Iranian but also as a female artist. As modes of my 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 2002, 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.
Following my education, I immigrated to Canada and later to United States Of America to continue my Post-Graduate in Fine Arts. I received my MFA (Master in Fine Arts) from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
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 know as the Green Rebellion (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.
Shirin Bolourchi and Alex Kay have worked together as Meshki Collective since 2016. Through research, video, sculpture, photography, wall painting, and various objects they are creating environments that submerge viewers in a flood of experiences, which addresses critical thinking. Their works talk through the paradoxes of migration, identity, philosophy and politics.