Studio Visit: Rashin Fahandej | Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

Studio Visit: Rashin Fahandej | Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston


[layered singing] “A Father’s Lullaby” is a multi-platform multi-year and research-based project. [singing] It’s basically a poetic investigation and reflection on the issue of mass
incarceration and how it impacts lower-income communities and communities
of color particularly. The first layer is this 26 minute, a very poetic encounter
with the lullabies with some of the narratives and stories. We’re starting with
this graph, very visual and beautiful, but is actually the trend of incarceration
from 1925 to 2015. I asked community members to share lullabies and memories of their own childhood as a way of getting closer to this space of absence and what does it mean for the children who didn’t had that space or
opportunity. When you ask about lullaby, everybody immediately goes to a very
personal space, whether they had a personal relationship with a lullaby or
they would just remember their childhood or their children’s childhood. The beauty
of the word “lullaby” is that it will immediately take you to that personal
and intimate close space but then I had fathers who shared songs that they were
they were saying, “Oh I don’t remember singing any lullaby but we would like sing in the car together” and this is like that’s what they shared. Or I had
other men that they share songs that their father would sing. [singing] Most of the men that you see in the gallery are the community members that participated
and give voice to this issue. There are also incarcerated men in the
mix. Then there are three touch panels that they are a portrait documentary of
a father, and I consider that a deep witnessing space that you consciously
decide to sit down and listen to those narrative any stories and you can hear
them only when you’re holding your hand and you’re activating that space.
And then the third layer that is very important: the audience participation. So
there is a website that you’re encouraged to activate the QR tag or go
to the website and everybody could go record their own lullabies or memories
of childhood or reflection on this issue so I think about that a face of it as a
poetic movement like how an art project could encourage or propel people to
share their own personal history in order to give voice to a very
complex social justice issue. I really believe that the space of art and
artistic encounter have the capability to move us in a very different way. I
grew up as a Baha’i in Iran which is a persecuted minority so when you look at
the major points of life there has been a lot of challenges and difficulties and
discrimination, but I think what it was very different was the amount of love
and care that I had, my parents were caring for us. It was not just love for
us but love for everybody and they were practicing it in their
daily life. There was not a day that my mom would cook just for us there was
always like my dad would always bring strangers to our home. So that sort of a
space of openness and loving, unconditional loving, despite the
hardship that you were experiencing was very interesting and profound
space of an experience. There are certain expectations that we have of men. We
rob away like a very important part of manhood. This sort of nurturing
being is really beautiful to see the fathers who share and it’s important to
space for them.

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