This special evening presents the work of three female artists who use performance to explore their connections to and distance from the transient landscapes of cultural heritage, family, tradition and everyday life in the Middle East.
Umama Hamido: HIND
In the summer of 2014 Umama Hamido travelled from her city Beirut to the Bekaa Valley, visiting villages on the borders of Lebanon and Syria. She was drawn by the beauty of the people and a way of life much removed from the one she was accustomed to in the capital city. This is a world of local tribes, rebel fighters, and people who have fled from the ongoing civil war in the neighbouring country. HIND documents a landscape and the daily life of a people who inhabit it. In this cinematic performance, Umama takes the audience on a journey through sound and image, sharing film footage which captures both the serenity and beauty of this environment and the inhabitants but also a reality of tension, poverty, fear and imminent danger.
Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani: Atigheh | عتیقه
Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani presents an experimental DJ set, stitching together the cracks that gape open between culture, family, tradition, diaspora and where they are placed in a city that promotes the elite.
Jumana Hokan: Lamia’s Fruit
This new immersive performance piece uses sound, live action and audience participation to oscillate between history and current affairs focusing on questions relating to cultural dilution and its tense interplay within the human condition.
Living on the border between many places and nowhere, Umama Hamido is a Lebanese artist who is currently living in London. Through montages of performance, film, sound, and text she addresses experiences of loss, yearning, and remembrance. She employs cine verité footage and audio recordings as tools to explore the politics of space – imagined and real – as she negotiates the human’s relation to traumatic spaces, and how the formation of the self is affected in the context of separation and marginality in Lebanon and its neighbouring countries
Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani
As a solo artist Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani works under the pseudonym Despicable Zee, creating wonky yet meditative lo-fi tunes, punctuated by biting rhythms. Now working with her own vocal and lyrical content, she layers melancholy, lazy melodies to shape a sound that sits somewhere between poetry and quiet rap. The songs are steeped in issues relating to identity, heritage, relationships and change – they sound like echoes of something, partially forgotten. Zahra has been writing and performing for more than 15 years. As well as her own music Zahra works day-to-day as the director of Oxford’s Young Women’s Music Project which is an educational charity that provides free workshops for women aged 14-21.
At the end of 2017 I took part in a 50-Hour Livestream celebrating female, transgender, and non-binary artists, presented in partnership with Tom Tom Magazine and Moogfest, the livestream featured hour-long performances from artists around the world.
At the end of April 2018, Zahra was delighted to be selected by Brighter Sound as part of their Both Sides Now residency to join Stealing Sheep & 13 other drummers to create ‘Stealing Sheep’s Suffragette Tribute, a performance for Liverpool Sound City. This toured Festival No. 6, End of the Road, and Head for the Hills and more.
Her next release Atigheh - عتیقه is due out on February 25th 2019 accompanied by a limited edition vignette documenting her Iranian fathers first year in Oxford back in 1979 along with stories, creative writing and a recipe. This collection of songs captures streams of Zahra’s consciousness.
Jumana Hokan is a Syrian/British multidisciplinary artist presently working in the UK. Her current practice involves creating varied interdisciplinary interventions that present narratives, which may question, challenge and explore the psychological and cultural impact of diasporas in communities and our fragile relationships between heritage, cultural and geographical identities, gender and societal evolution.