The project was a reflection on my knitting. I am finding knitting a practice of meditation for my my recent state of mind. I am knitting for my husband but this time. This project is a trajectory of me and my husband’s transitional phase. We are not sure whether we will move to Vancouver with each other or I have to leave my country alone. So I asked my Family to write down or draw something for me on strips of fabrics. I told them that I wouldn’t see the thing they wrote until I am in Vancouver.
This was an emotional moment for our family. I saw my family tearing up when writing down their words. Kids played with the strips of fabric I gave them. The whole thing was so emotional for me.
As I worked with the strips I thought about all the love I have in my life. That made me feel better and gave me energy to keep going despite hardship I was feeling.
Knitting was a bit hard as the strips were not stretchy. So I decided to do Macramé. I knotted the lovely words together and created some sort of letter for my future self. Hoping for a bright future and a big smile on my face. I would probably tear up when I unknot the strips and read those words and see the drawing. I would miss my loved ones…
I wrote something down for this action but I decided to leave it in a word document as a diary of the moment I couldn’t continue working on this action and of the things that have happened to me during the last couple of weeks. I could say I have experienced an intense mixture of all the opposite emotions. Hope and disappointment, happiness and sadness…
I started this action a couple of weeks ago by asking the cohort to send me a sentence about “Love” in their mother language and send me a voice of themselves saying that sentence. I have always loved hearing different languages. I like the fact that the cohort come from different part of the world. I asked about love because we have all experienced it in our lives. Hearing the cohort speaking their mother tongue was so thrilling for me and the expression of love added emotion to their voice. Some of them were not comfortable talking about love because they found it bitter. Love seems to be complicated and full of opposite emotions. Love connects people and it is love that make us human.
“ਇਹ ਪਿਆਰ ਹੀ ਹੈ ਜੋ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਮਨੁੱਖ ਬਣਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ” “Mais amor por favor” “Ammavukku tan pillai mel mikavum anbu” “रहिमन धागा प्रेम का, मत तोरो चटकाय. टूटे पे फिर ना जुरे, जुरे गाँठ परी जाय” “十年生死两茫茫，不思量，自难忘。” “ভালবাসা” “প্রেম” “热爱” “Love is everything you want to work for with another person. It’s a feeling that even thinking about them makes your chest instantly warm, like their pulse has just shot through your body. It’s loving someone in all their ways, even the ways that need healing. This is who they are and you love them in their entirety. Love is a mirror and it can reflect onto you, showing both lightness and dark.”
I got fascinated by the different alphabets I received. The shapes and curves had the feeling of love by themselves. I wanted to keep all them for myself, so I decided to work with fabric and bring out the discarded fabrics and cut offs. I placed them beside each other like a puzzle.
That night the weather got so cold and I decided to use the fabric to create a winter shawl. I haven’t used my sewing machine since my Action 1. I used its zigzag to connect the pieces of fabrics together. I wanted to show the power of connection and healing which comes from Love.
I used all the small pieces of cut offs to create the words the cohort sent me and stich them on the shawl I created. I had the company of my husband’s niece and nephews and it felt like the whole place was filled with pure love. They even participated and placed some heart shape fabrics on my shawl. The worked beside me to create bracelets with beads.
I spent three days working on the shawl and the last day that I finished the shawl Tehran had its first snowy day.
I had a warm shawl full of emotions for a cold winter. The moment that I decided to create the shawl doing the action didn’t matter that much. I felt that in this action I really did something for myself. It was a gif to me and it involved the cohort as well.
I liked the actions that I did without thinking. I have three closets and I started by documenting my clothes in them. I wanted to document all the clothes in both of the closets, but it took a lot of time to document only one of them. So I went with one of the three closets. I photographed 150 clothes.
During the documentation process I vividly remembered stories related to some clothes. My clothes seemed like a diary notebook. The memories flashed back to me as I folded my clothes for photography. Some of my clothes are gifts from dear people and some of them are made with my own hands. I could see stronger attachments with some clothes. I bought some of them with my first earnings and some are souvenirs and part of my travel memories to other countries.
Another point which attracted my attention was the fact that I have a lot of clothes from foreign brand and they are usually from European and Turkish brands. I could barely see any aspect of my home culture in my clothes. Only 12% of the clothes that I documented were made by me. I think that is a small number considering the fact that I work in fashion and I know sewing as well.
Another thing which got my attention was the fact that I mostly used fabrics with patterns or some embellishments and paintings, but in foreign clothes most designs are with simple fabrics and they are usually unicolor. I never looked at my closet the way I just did. I understood that I mostly created the stuff that a foreign brand does not offer, such as Manto which is an Islamic wear in our country. I started questioning myself. What is in Western aesthetic that attracts us? How our clothing taste has changed? Is it changed or we are more attracted to the branding strategies? Is it the colors which attract us or the cut or the pattern?
This thinking process made me search for traditional clothes of Iran. Traditional clothes in Iran is not that common nowadays but some part of Iran wear their traditional clothes for some special occasions such as wedding. What is really unique in Iranian traditional clothes is the use of mixture of sharp colors, patterns and handwork embellishments. When I looked at my closet I saw that I have clothes with a wide range of colors as well.
When I started this action I wanted some of the cohort to join the action and I mostly wanted to work with my classmates who are from western countries. I wanted to see whether there is a difference between color choice and choice of fabrics between two different cultures (eastern and western cultures). Unfortunately, no one could participate in the action.
I investigated my closet to see what percentage of my clothes are from non-Iranian brands. Almost 60% of my clothes are from brand which are not in my hometown. The clothes are usually the ones that I wear outside the house.
During the photography process I realized I have lots of clothes that I totally forgot about them. I bought lots of clothes and I am waiting for a special occasion to wear them. I used some of the clothes that I have no more than 3 times and haven’t wear them for a long time. Some clothes are made with uncomfortable materials and even by knowing this fact I bought them anyway. Maybe because they were beautiful or in good price. Some clothes shrank or they are not small for me now, so I cannot wear them anymore. All these clothes are consider almost half my my closet.
It was a shucking number for me. I felt really bad for my irrational buying. The worst thing was that I gave a lot of clothes away a couple of months ago and still I had a lot. I thought about what derived me to buying the clothes that I probably won’t use? I am sure that marketing and good price play a big role. I also thought about the pandemic and how it changed people’s buying habit. It impacted my buying habits, but I am not sure whether it is because people cannot gather together. Another thing which impacted Iranian’s buying habit is the drastic increase of price of Dollar compared to IR Rial. Social interactions surely impact our buying habit for clothes during the Pandemic. Lost of brands focused on slag and cozy clothes during the pandemic considering people’s feeling and less social gathering. Another question is that: Is the buying habit changed really or did the pandemic increased the online buying? Lots of people around me do online shopping as a hobby during the quarantine periods. How can we change our buying habits really? How can we reduce the fashion waste?
I decided to create a material and exploring how it turns out. I worked with potato wheat starch. I boiled some potatoes in water and added some oil and salt to the water. After the potatoes were cooked I separated the water and kept it in refrigerator for a couple of hours. Then I added some wheat starch to the water. I expected that the mixture to become harder, but it was still watery. I remembered that my mom puts starch in cold water and then adds it to the boiling water to thickens the mixture. So I did the same and placed the mixture over the heat and stirred to create a smooth mixture.
I decided to use the oven to cook the mixture. I was creating without thinking. I thought that I can use some dried flower pedals and earing hanger to create some earrings with the new material. So I placed some nails in mixture to create a whole for earring hangers.
Some of the nails fell before putting the tray inside the oven and some fell during the cooking process. The result was not a success. The material got separated and I think it was because of the heat.
In my second attempt, I tried to use aluminum foil and radiator to dry out the water inside the mixture. I thought that the radiator’s heat is not as intense as the oven and it mess the mixture up. I was wrong. I created the mixture again and placed them over the aluminum foil. This time I placed the hangers inside the mixture, because nail was not practical. I let the mixture dry over the radiator over a night and it was not successful as well. The result was really fragile and it was hard to separate the earrings from the aluminum foil. Lots of them broke in the separation process.
I had this feeling that I can make it work. I also used macrowave, but all the earrings attached together and covered the bottom of the plate that I used. For the final attempt, I tried to use a pan to control the heat and also have a sleek surface to easily separate the earrings after they got prepared. From the beginning of creating this texture I knew that it is not something that stays for a long time. But I wanted to have some sort of control over its hardness. I was satisfied with the final process and I could create some earrings. I also created some molds with aluminum foil to shape the earrings.
I really liked the whole process of this action because of all its failures. It made me thinking about possible solutions and I did lots of reflections. During this process I was so tempted by the idea of using reisin, but I wanted to explore natural materials. Even though the earrings will not live for a long time, It made me more determined in further exploring natural materials.
This is a work continued by exploring Marcia’s food from action 6. I virtually placed all her food in plates and my initial thought was to tell a story for her plate. I thought about creating a story which is related to Marcia’s feeling every day, by looking at her food and counting on my intuition to guess the taste of the food as well. But instead I decided to share her food with the cohort and ask them to name each food with a person’s name. That person could be a fictional character, a famous person or a person they know. I also asked whether they can give me some characteristics of that person. They didn’t know that the foods are for Marcia. I wanted to see how they perceive the foods without any knowledge about the person who ate them.
I spend hours and days looking at these characters the cohort gave me. I tried morphing the characters with the food. I looked at each of them to see the reason behind them being selected. The more obvious ones were the ones which had similar appearance with the food such as the texture, form or the color. Some were chosen because of the pleasant/unpleasant taste of the food. Having a memory which is related to that food was a reason for a couple of food/character selection. In a talk with Chiara, one of my classmates who participated in choosing a character, she mentioned that “I could perfectly say that my close friend is an avocado, because she has lots of potential like an avocado”. Another reason for selecting her friend was that they had lots of shared memories with an avocado tree.
People had different feeling for each food. Even people from similar culture have different emotional attachment for a same food. My first idea after receiving the characters was to create a story for Marcia’s plate, but I decided to show the characters to Marcia to see her reaction. She was really excited to see how the cohort perceived her food. I first decided to gave the characters to Marcia and ask her to document her reaction to each of them, but then I decided to do some thing else. I wasn’t in a good emotional place at this moment and I was really confused what to do with all the things that I had so far. I decided to care for myself in this point of the action and don’t pressure myself. I decided to make without thinking. I felt like doing watercolor and embroidery on textile to create a pattern by the characters.
At this point I worked on my perception of the characters. So the final work is the result of different process of perception with a number of people.
I will investigate Caring for Nature through the action of Environmental Observation.
I was so excited for this action because I was looking for an excuse for going to nature again. This time I knew exactly where I would go. I went to the National Botanical Garden of Iran. This garden is almost a jungle filled with different plant spices from different parts of Iran and some other countries such as USA, China, Japan, Europe, Azerbaijan and so on. I had visited this place two times before, but I haven’t seen the whole place and I never visited it in the autumn.
If you look at the map, you easily see that the place is a Charbagh Garden. [Charbagh or Chahar Bagh (Persian: چھار باغ chahār bāgh, Hindi: चारबाग़ chārbāgh, Urdu: چار باغ chār bāgh, meaning “four gardens”) is a Persian and Indo-Persian quadrilateral garden layout based on the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in the Qur’an. The quadrilateral garden is divided by walkways or flowing water into four smaller parts. They are found in countries throughout Western Asia and South Asia, including Iran and India.]
The place is magical and full of surprises. Even the animals are unique.
The interesting thing about my reason for visiting the place was to search for a way to care for nature, but all I could see in this place was caring. The place had lots of rules in order to protect the environment. For example, people were not allowed to have picnic stuff, no tea flask are allowed, no playing instruments are allowed, setting fire is forbidden and so on. The place had different fences, surveillance, signs, path and guards for watching the natural setting.
I found a couple of things in my visit to the Garden and I decided to bring them with me. I found acorn, Chinese mulberry, shepherdia and some other plants that I don’t know their names. So, I placed all of them in a piece of paper and put them in the terrace to take a picture from them. I came inside to pick something and when I went back to the terrace I scared to death by a cat standing on the piece of paper.
The cat’s footprint triggered some thoughts in my mind. It made me think about my carbon footprint. I did some thinking and looked around my home to see how can I reduce my carbon footprint. I tried to think of my everyday activities and see what I can change in order to reduce my carbon footprint. I suddenly saw this.
I work in field of fashion and I cut the fabric myself for my personal brand. This is the amount of fabrics that are wasted in a year during the process of cutting fabrics. I always try my best to reduce the amount of waste during the process of cutting, but I would end up with some waste anyway. The waste adds up in long term and become an obvious damage to the environment. Till a year ago, I gave all the waste to a charity which would upcycle them. They are not accepting the waste anymore and I cannot through them away because I feel guilty.
So I decided to try upcycling them in a way. I used whatever I had in home to create a textile by weaving with the small pieces. I used stitching as well to connect some small pieces together and then use them as some sort of thread for weaving.
After weaving the pieces, I was left with really small pieces. I thought about a way to used them as well. So, I used a rice bag, which was useless in our home, and created a pillow.
The whole process was really emotional for me, because working with the fabrics reminded me of the time that I cut them and the memories of that time of my life. I really liked this action because I saw I could do positive things with the thing I couldn’t see before. I would love to continue this process and explore other ways of upcycling the fabric waste.
So this action started by a friendly chat with Marcia. We were talking about filling the blanket for this action and we were helping each other out. After a long chat, we found that it would be interesting to pair up and do the action with each other. During our chat we talked about how food and tradition around food is not colonized like other things in our lives and we are attached to our traditional food. On the other hand, I wanted to do more action on the two concepts of “Caring” and “Connection”.
So, we decided to explore “Connection” and “Intuition” through the action of “Cooking” and “Dishing up”.We decided to take picture of whatever we eat for 4 days and send their photos to each other.
For me the whole documenting process was so interesting. It was like having a guest in our home. I wanted to share all the experience with her. Sometimes my family reminded me that have to take a picture for Marcia.
The day that we exchanged photos was really sentimental. We got so excited and emotional over watching each other’s food. Marcia texted me and we talked about our emotions. We found some similarities between them.
I had the photos of Marcia’s food and they were talking about a story more that the food itself. I decided to create a dish with papier-mâché and use the photos of food for its inner layer (Dish up).
When I created the bowl, I placed all pictures of the food inside it. But, I thought “Ok what is the point? How can I connect my food and my edible experience with that of Marcia?” so I thought about how food impact all our senses such as sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. I went back to intuition that we had in our initial sentence. So, I thought about the 6th sense. How can I connect with Marcia though 6 senses?
I looked closer to Marcia’s food and mine. The colors, texture and smell got my attention. I used the spices and the ingredients of my food to show the texture, smell and visual perception of Marcia’s food. I placed the spices and ingredient over pieces of paper to give it the color, textile and smell and placed all the papers inside the bowl.
The bowl is now a mixture of me and Marcia’s food. It is a bowl for mixing our culture.
I also received a gift from Marcia. She did a great job of collaging my food and arranging them similar to Persian embroidery. She told me that I wanted to do embroidery with your food because I saw you did embroidery in your previous actions and also I wanted to connect with you through your culture. That was a great gift for me. I got so excited when I saw her work because she studied part of my culture and she greatly connected with my work as well.
For this action I met with Marcia in order to help each other expand our ideas. After our chat I decided to work on 2 concepts: Caring and Connection. They perfectly match with my concerns for women, nature and local culture. I wanted to show human connection and caring through video sketching with some elements from my previous actions. So I used embroidery threads for my first video. A couple of weeks ago, I asked the whole class to send me a picture of what is valuable for them. It was a great experience, because I got a chance to chat with a couple of my classmates and get to know them better. All the pictures had a story behind them. I thought I could use them for my action 3, but it didn’t happened. For this action I went back to them and I used them to show reciprocity connections. So the concept of “Caring for Caring” emerged in this video.
For the second video I was thinking about human connection and women. I used Shadow playing which is a traditional play in my country. Aside that, I used shadow to show women hide a lot of their emotions and experiences, especially the bitter ones. I used threads in this video as well, as a mean for connecting people and making them united. I used hands to tell the stories of women by their bodies and tried to show all the emotions through movements.
For this action I was like I am gonna go alone and listen to what nature tells me. But when my mom heard that I am going to the nature she said that there is no way you go alone, I am coming with you. Earlier in the class, when I saw Garima’s work with help of her mother, I understood that it is an unconditional love and presence we all have during our lives and it comes from our moms. So, we went out and the moment we arrived at the nearest natural setting, I asked my mom to go by herself and enjoy the nature. It was hard for me to explain what I was looking for, considering the fact that I had no idea myself. To my surprise she was fine with all the unsureness and kept me company. She was really helpful as well. We wondered around and I started taking some pictures.
Then we saw some plants with dried branches. We started cutting some of the branches. I saw some branches were woven into each other. So this created a sparkle in my mind. I then saw another plant and at this moment I somehow knew what I was going to do. I separated some leaves from the bottom of this plant as well.
I am so impress by seeing an thinking about my cultural roots, the instance that I meet with the nature. I originally come from a city which is placed in a desert, but its people are the first inventors of Qanat which is a gently sloping underground channel to transport water from an aquifer or water well to the surface for irrigation and drinking, acting as an underground aqueduct. They invented and watered Charbagh چارباغ by Qanat. Charbagh is a quadrilateral garden layout based on the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in the Qur’an. The quadrilateral garden is divided by walkways or flowing water into four smaller parts. There is always a great sense of nature presence in their handicraft. Lots and lots of flowers, leaves, branches, colors, animals and all. Sirjan, which I am originally from has the most the famous and the greatest Gelim گلیم which is a flat tapestry-woven carpet or rug. I decided to create a similar textile by the natural materials I found on nature.
So as it happened in action 3, I started reflecting on my thoughts and I looked backed at the whole process from action 3 to action 4. I decided to go back to a place that I left aside in action 3, which was the topic of women. I don’t like the label of Feminism, so I go with “Women Ethics of Care”. I think whenever a movement is created and labeled, it somehow redirects from its original goal.
There are lots of similarities with nature and women. Women become mothers like mother nature. They are both nurturer and they both suffered from lots of abuses and hardship. The reason that I decided to put the topic of women aside was the dreadful stories I heard from women who became victims of sexual abuse. At this point, I decided to express my feelings about the last story I read about one of these women. I didn’t reread the story and tried to create something with what I had in my mind.
A really young woman… lots of dreams… an artist…she is going to the US to start her master studies… Full of dreams… She is having an exhibition in a famous gallery in Iran… she is meeting with the curator… a famous artist… a friend… someone to trust… she has a drink in his office… she feels sick and unstable ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………in the morning he wakes up and has his breakfast… they leave the house… he is gone to work… she is… she isn’t………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. she is in he Us… living a nightmare……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… women speak out……………………………………………………………………………………….. she speaks out………………………………. she is… she is… brave
For me it took a lot of time, actions and reflections to choose my Lexicon. I actually sat in front of the screen staring at them for a while. I secretly googled some of them as well. I was really in doubt which one to choose. So, I highlighted Feminism Ethics of Care, Local Scale (vs. International Scale) and Ecologically Literate. At first I decided to combine feminism with local scale (vs. international scale). I started looking up some pictures by googling the world “feminism”. I found a couple of protests from all over the world, some quotes from famous people and some old pieces of newspaper which were from old Iran. The title of these papers were about the first Iranian politician woman, the first feminism movement in Iran and things like that. I came across some protests by women in Iran, but they aren’t as much as internationals’ in number. The reason actually lies under political and social structure of my country.
In the next step. I printed out the pictures and looked at them for a while. Then, I started cutting out the written worlds and signs from banners. All of a sudden, the women became silenced. With no words.
I started thinking how can I related these women to the women of my country… I found them… Woman from South of Iran.. They wear a traditional face mask which is named “Borgheh”. This mask is a form of Islamic hijab which wears more than half of the face. It has two holes for showing eyes. (I have to add that Borgheh is now part of South’s people culture and some people wear it as some sort of jewelry, with some embellishments and handmade fabrics). For my action Borgheh is a symbolic form of silence and femininity.
I then created a Borgheh and placed the silenced pictures on its surface. It seemed that all the women got united. Though they don’t have a voice, they are being heard by other women…
But are they silent? Or the eyes speak a thousand words?
So this action got me thinking about all the heartbreaking abusive stories which revealed recently from the women of my country and all over the globe. The women who got courage to speak up. I struggled a lot, to honest. I decided not to keep going, because I can’t handle this topic with all the cruel which come back to my mind. I thought a lot and I also talked with a couple of my cohorts. I know every small act matters in this regard, but I have to be emotionally prepared for this topic.
I decided to go on with the local scale. I went to the nature to find some inspiration. As I was looking around, something like a stone hit my head. So I looked up and saw a tree with some ball shaped things on it. Still don’t know what it is or whether it is edible, but I decided to pick it. I started photographing and picking flowers or leaves of other plants.
The plants reminded me of a traditional embroidery from Sirjan, a city in Kerman. My mother and father are from Sirjan and I have great memories there. I vividly remember my mother creating “Pateh” by embroidery. So, I decided to create a natural embroidery. I took what I had found in nature to home and placed them on white fabric… That embroidery felt so alive…
I didn’t stop thinking and reflecting and I was thinking how can I show Local Scale vs. International Scale. Suddenly a really recent concern came to my mind which was the value of our currency compared to international currency. I was on doubt to bring the action up or not. Because I don’t want to spread negativity about my country. Then I thought changing the value of our currency is actually impacting our current lives as Iranians, not the values and love we have for our country.