Zoya Sardashti

Artist Statement

I am a live artist, performance ethnographer, and cultural mediator working within the domain of socially engaged art. My work has manifested itself as devised theatre, dance, performance and performative interventions. I do not perform for people but with them. The parameters of my projects are set conceptually, a framework is in place, but each time I bring a performance or workshop in a new place the work is new because it engages a new community in a new environment. The body of the city has a relationship to the bodies of its citizens. I am not interested in making performances that privilege the performer’s body while audiences are required to sit silently. In the backdrop of our present day reality, some people are forced to sit in silence while others are allowed to move freely. I am against this ideology. I invite people for an opportunity for open expression that encourages other embodiments. The risk that my work exposes is not complex or extreme. It’s the risk we take everyday in exposing ourselves to each other and the world around us. In a time when we are encouraged to speak our minds, but not offered bodily protections, at a time when fundamental, basic rights are being undermined, I find it necessary to use my practice to support others.

Our body is the first place of inhabitation. Interacting with various landscapes creates memories and narratives are formed. Sites are affected by bodies and bodies are affected by sites. The more we move into ourselves, the more we move beyond ourselves into other places. Since identity is fluid, there is a need to go beyond representation and beyond identification, so participating with landscapes means provoking a new set of concerns. By engaging with diverse modes of performance practices and encounters (strategic, playful or disruptive), I consider the landscape of current cultural, political, and societal developments and the possibility of confrontation and counteraction. I use the concept of performativity as a mode of inquiry to better articulate the ritualistic, theatrical, ordinary and interactive dimensions of culture and understand the dynamics of exchange and receptivity in performance. Throughout each process I question how performativity translates ways a person ‘performs culture’, ‘performs art’, and ‘performs politics’.

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A Brief Biography

Theatre is an obsession that keeps me from pursuing a career in politics. Born in Denver, Colorado to an American mother and an Iranian father, I spent most of my childhood in the southern part of the United States. Across the last eight years I have produced performances in Seoul, London, Los Angeles, Glorenza, Venice, and Florence. In 2014 I earned a M.A. from Roehampton University in Performance & Creative Research and at Hendrix College, a liberal arts university, obtained a B.A. in Theatre Arts. I have worked as an assistant director, dramaturge, and casting associate at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. In 2008 I attended the Lincoln Center’s International Director’s Lab as guest director. While living in Korea, I worked with Seoul Factory for the Performing Arts. Under the direction of Limb Hyoung-Taek, I participated in ensemble training: a hybrid of Viewpoints composition and Korean dance movement methodologies for theatre-making as well as served as an international collaboration liaison, director’s assistant and outreach associate. Currently I am pursuing a PhD in Philosophy, Art and Social Thought at The European Graduate School.