Bodiless Heads

Bodiless Heads is a metaphor, a hypothesis, an imaginary state that relates to the evasive, multi-layered cultures of courtesy evolved over time particularly, but not exclusively, within Iran’s [cultural] borders.

Ming, 1986  Acrylic and watercolor on canvas © Mary Heilmann Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and 303 Gallery, New York Photo: Thomas Müller

In 2017, Bodiless Heads, an ongoing artistic research project led by choreographer and performance artist Setareh Fatehi in collaboration with Shahrzad Irannejad, Researcher in history of humoral medicine in the Islamicate world, was hosted and promoted in collaboration with Arts Cabinet. The purpose of this collaboration, was to engage in a critical reflection about the practice of artistic research, the problematics of shared methodologies and to observe how art and research combined can reach and engage with audiences, across borders, both in Europe and in Iran. This collaboration formed a specific subset of the project, which the artist and researcher named Bodiless Heads Vol.2. It concluded in Tehran, in August 2017, with a lecture performance which we are disseminating here (see below).


Setareh Fatehi is a freelance artist/choreographer, teacher, performer and currently a co-director of Stichting (foundation) TUSSEN ruimte which facilitates artistic exchange between Iran and the Netherlands. Before finishing a BA of choreography in Amsterdam, she took self initiated/private courses in folk dance, mime, classic ballet, synchronized swimming and contemporary dance in Iran. During her stay in Europe, she has worked with artists like Deborah Hey, Katerina Bakatsaki, Aernout Mik, Andre Lepecki, Jennifer Lacy, Ivana Muller and Dries Verhoeven who have had a great impact on her work. She probes into the cultural and socio-political background of her body to contextualize her physical vocabulary. Her fascination lies in the history of all the bodies that have affected or even formed her today’s body: whether it be her grandmother’s body, her dance teacher’s, the executed body of her uncle, the mountain climber body of her father, the sick body of her grandfather, the body of her Barbies, the image of body in poems and novels and movies that she has seen, de/re-formed bodies of her cousins with all sort of plastic surgeries, or the technologized bodies of almost everyone around her.

Shahrzad Irannejad is a researcher in history of humoral medicine in the Islamicate world. My research follows two broad paths: first, humoral medicine in Iran in relation to its cultural context; and second, the history of humoral medicine in the Islamicate world in relation to its Hellenic roots. I make time to follow the first path with a focus on the relation between humoral medicine and Persian cuisine. To consolidate my footsteps in the second path, I am currently working on my PhD thesis entitled “Localization of the Avicennean inner senses in a Hippocratic body” at the Research Training Group “Early Concepts of Man and Nature: Universal, Local, Borrowed”, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. Basically, I work on Hellenic ideas regarding mental functions and their localization in the physical brain that were transferred to the medieval Islamicate world as manifested in the works of Avicenna. My current research in the concept of the Inner Senses is partly fueled by my fascination with the mind-body question, a question that was historically initiated by percolation of Avicenna’s ideas to the Latin west.

Bodiless Heads is a metaphor, a hypothesis, an imaginary state that relates to the evasive, multi-layered cultures of courtesy evolved over time particularly, but not exclusively, within Iran’s [cultural] borders. Setareh explores missing bodies, absent bodies, bodies without organs, bodies that are neglected in the history of hierarchical structure of power perhaps because they reveal too much about the reality of their time. She uses her own body as a research sample. Setareh looks for the traces of the concept of body in her personal history: in her literal and visual heritage (including poems, stories, photos, movies, sculptures); illness- and health-related practices; political/physical censorship; social norms of sexuality and gender; and the ubiquitous presence of technology. Setareh’s collaboration with Shahrzad Irannejad, researcher in history of humoral medicine in the Islamicate world, is based on their mutual desire to look at the story of body against their shared cultural background. To address the [absence of the] body against their cultural background, they use the term Bodilessness. This signifier is meant to encompass the various aspects of the undefined, undelineated presence of the body, the deliberate absence of physicality, which leaves it open to interpretation. Setareh’s engagement with the body as a tool for creating thoughts and Shahrzad’s preoccupation with the localization of mental faculties in the physical brain is the point of contact between the artist’s practice and the researcher’s field of enquiry.


Line of enquiry:

Dance being officially a forbidden form of creation and body being a hyper sensitive topic in present-day Iran, have definitely influenced its contemporary citizens’ collective awareness of the body. One might think that people must have forgotten how to dance or the desire to do so, but on the contrary, to borrow Omid Balaghati’s words:”قر در کمر ایران گیر کرده! Dance is bulging in the waist of Iran!”. This idiom reveals a lot about the way that the body is “[un-]addressed” in that particular society. The body seems to be equipped with a certain quality that could be implemented to make dance. This quality, however, is not a recent cultural product, but has emerged through centuries. We would like to re/introduce/visit this peculiar quality of the body as evolved over time particularly, but not exclusively, within Iran’s [cultural] borders. We call this Bodilessness. Omid Balaghati (literary critic) has claimed that in Persian narrative literature, lovers do not possess a body. Body has often been described with a multilayered, evasive, courtesy, metaphorical language. As if the body acquired a holy, transcendent, or maybe in contrast, abjected and stigmatized position, the position of untouchable; as if individuals are “heads full of spirituality who are against their own flesh (Julia Kristeva, 1982)”. Balaghati calls these imaginary bodies, Bodiless Heads. We have borrowed this term from him, to add further connotations to it, wondering what sort of qualities can be further attributed to it. How does this absence influence the collective image of the body and what are the ramifications of it for the society where we live? Bodilessness is a signifier designed to encompass the various aspects of the undefined, undelineated presence of body, the deliberate absence of physicality, which leaves it open to interpretation. Bodilessness is a term coined to make our intended discussion possible. It can relate to a non-gendered language which makes the lover’s body as ambiguous as it is nowadays presented by queer thinkers, a non-normative, undefined image that can include all genders, shapes and races; it can be an alternative to the profile picture machines (instagram, facebook and so on) in presentation of the self; and it can simply be an introduction to another sensibility that belongs to our time of now. Our broad question also encompasses subjects like veiling of the body, asceticism, martyrdom, physical/sexual pleasure, and cosmetic surgeries.
As an artist/choreographer concerned with the body as a tool to make her work, Setareh is constantly looking for qualities that can contribute to the movement vocabulary that she uses on the stage. She is mainly interested in the qualities that appear as a mere consequence of everyday life, as opposed to the qualities that certain techniques and training can temporarily create in the body. This desire has grown from a pedagogical wish to introduce something “beyond technique” to dance education in Iran and her struggles with being an international artist in the European educational and artistic systems. She has invested much in conveying her work in a language that is understood by both European and Iranian audiences, without sacrificing her artistic integrity.To further probe into those qualities, she uses her own body as a research sample. She is looking for the traces of the concept of body in her personal history, and her literal and visual heritage (including poems, stories, photos, movies, sculptures), illness- and health-related practices, political/physical censorship, social norms of sexuality and gender, and the ubiquitous presence of technology. In another word, she intends to re/de-contextualize the meaning of her body in relation to its surroundings, by looking at the various aspects that have made up her personal history. Setareh’s collaboration with Shahrzad is based on a mutual desire to look at the story of body in the cultural background that they have both grown up in.

Our mutual point of departure in our current journey of understanding Bodilessness in its cultural context is the body/mind dichotomy/intersection. Is THERE even a dichotomy? Neither one of us deal with this question directly; however, it is an undercurrent in both our works:  With Setareh’s preoccupation with “Body as a tool for creating thoughts” and Shahrzad’s preoccupation with “Localization of mental faculties in the physical brain”, the notion of the sublimeness of the body resonates with both of them and their work.
Shahrzad’s contribution would be in both form and content: structuring and formulation of research questions and methodologies as well as providing random sources of inspiration. We will begin with addressing the historical dichotomy/intersection of body and mind. We will look into how the body is addressed in history of humoral medicine and mind/body debates from antiquity and medieval times. Putting together a bibliography and developing a body cartography will be the initial products of this research. The theoretical findings will feed the series of assignments that Setareh will design to format interviews and guided exercises in order to examine more closely the quality of Bodilessness through individual bodily experiences in various focus groups. In order not to fall into any sort of unnecessary generalization, we rely on individual experiences and stories we resonate with. In other words, we do not attempt to come up with a comprehensive history of how the body is addressed in various cultural manifestations in the Perso-Arab world, but invite to a debate based on our personal histories

Tehran Talk

From the very first steps in our dialogue, we wished to share our questions and concerns with our audience in our hometown. Their lived experiences, their knowledge, and their theoretical concerns, we assumed, would help us remain relevant to our cultural context, as we navigate through the resources and bodies that we would interact with in the course of our current project. We could not have been more fortunate. To test the waters, we managed to sit down with our audience on the 23rd of October in Lajevardi Gallery, Tehran.

Chapter 1: From Anarak to Mainz

International Platform for Performer Training (IPPT)
Fourth edition: Utrecht, 9 – 12th of March 2017
Curated and organized by: School of Theatre and Professorship in Performative Processes, Utrecht University of the Arts (HKU)

In chapter 1, Setareh presented a lecture performance in IPPT (International Platform for Performer Training) conference in Utrecht University of the arts (HKU), talking about the existing practice of disembodiment in medical and literal Persian traditions as well as her personal experience of it
Conference description
In a four day conference for artists, researchers, scholars and teachers, affiliated with universities, art schools and centers of performance related research we had a temporary ‘breaking loose’ from theatrical and dance performance practice and training traditions that often inform our current curricula. We looked into performance practices in which bodies at first sight may seem disembodied and we asked what is at stake.
Can it be that these bodies embody perceptions, thoughts and affects that one cannot yet grasp? Is disembodiment a mode of embodiment or something wholly different? What is the training of these practices and what is at stake in its politics, ethics and aesthetics?
With the understanding that the embodied narratives of any performer training are describing and inscribing what we think to be our world, how do we choose the one(s) for our school curricula?

Setareh used the format of lecturing as a performative as much as informative mode to share her Bodiless related discoveries and questions through looking at her personal story of being a dancer . She specifically told the story of developing Bodiless Heads research from a workshop that she organized for Katerina Bakatsaki in Anarak to the realization of their research questions with Shahrzad in Mainz. The emphasis was on pedagogical experiences with dancers working with other disciplines (namely technology and visual art). Here are some part of the story and questions that Setareh shared with IPPT audience:
“ I first heard the phrase “Bodiless Heads” from Omid Balaghati a writer who claimed to hate his own body, in an in-residence choreography workshop in the middle of the desert in Iran. The workshop, held in the winter of 2014, in the desert town of Anarak, was entitled “ Where is home?”. It was led by Katerina Bakatsaki and I in collaboration with Shahrzad Irannejad were her assistants. Our writer companion said, If we look through Persian narrative literature, lovers do not have a body add to that the lack of gendered pronoun in persian language which does not even identify the maleness or femaleness of that body. As if body is immaterial, ephemeral; be it holy or transcendent or in contrary abjected and stigmatized, it is “nowhere”. Katerina invited us to work on the premise of questions like “Do I have a body? If so, where is it? Is it somehow “somewhere”? What does it include when it does or feels as ‘I”? We were discussing these questions surrounded by young dancers/performers/makers who did not have a long history of dance training and were quite shy about their body.” said Setareh.

“After our magical days with Katerina in Anarak, Omid wrote: “What constitutes a body must be a concoction of its geography, the political, the historical, the philosophical and the social plus a personal reading of what the body is, the person’s beliefs and what has come to pass to the body. But a body is all this and it is not. An idea, some magic, I guess that thing belongs to the realm of intuition”. “.
“The more I went back and forth between Tehran and Amsterdam the more this question of What to do with the bodies that are not trained dancers and what kind of training does a dancer  actually need became dominant. How not to be the victim of some clerics and look beyond these temporary restrictions? How to bring the newly born dance scene of Tehran out of its isolation? What do these bodies miss and what are they told that they miss? What are the narratives that we were told about our disembodiment and what are the actual lived/corporel experiences of it? What kind of quality this disembodiment carry and how did it got trained?”

My grandmother was one of the pillars of this exercise for me. A female born in Khorasan eastern Iran to an Afghan father and Turkman mother. Raised as a muslim woman with intense sets of rules and limitations imposed by her father and grand father, she was secretly escaping the house to learn dance from Soviet war refugees who were living in their neighbours house. Her stories and opinion on what dance is and how it should and should not be, her determination on the fact that she can not dance anymore in contradiction to her desire to move and dance with the body that according to her was out of order, influenced me a lot in my approach towards technical training and brought up questions such as:
What do I take for granted as my body when I’m taught certain techniques like Ballet or even contemporary dance? What does a body need to be able to dance? Why do I enjoy watching my grandmother’s dance now rather than watching her 70 years ago when she could properly demonstrate all the movements that she is talking about? What is the body that she has now and what does it need to be able to call her dance a dance? Doesn’t it have more to do with the way she looks rather than the way she moves? How to train that look?
It is interesting to see that not addressing the body (disembodiment) is a contemporary issue that can easily be criticized among the young citizens of Tehran, and for that reason not many people took the chance to look at it as a liberating quality that can include more forms and shapes and colors inside of the living body of our time. We are introducing Bodiless heads as a platform for sharing new pathways and point of views that help us explore our body as a tool for creation, not away from the body but from the body towards the outside.

“Embodiment/ Dis-embodiment”
Alix de Morant
Extracted from the Wrap Up Speech of the IPPT symposium ”How do contemporary performance practices describe and inscribe the dis/embodiment and corporeality of performers and therefore their training” IPPT Platform-HKU University of the Arts Utrecht School of Theatre:9-10-11th March 2017

‘I have lived sufficiently to conclude, that in a lifetime we do not only possess one body but several bodies of experience. What I liked of this IPPT first day wrapping-up session was this question of “How to define the body”, especially because this question concerns young people. Who has the power to define what a skilled body could be? And what kind of a body should it be? What is this “body”, everyone is referring to, as if there was implicit status between all of us?
Is it a trained, refined and skilled body or is it an ordinary body? Is it an ”all you can do with your body”, body? Is it a political body? A powerful body or a more fragile, subtle one? Does the body exist as a toolbox or as an entity? Is it authentic or it is an avatar? Do we develop an individual or collective body? Is it yours, it is mine? Is it present, absent or even missing? Katarina Bakatsaki[1] and Setareh Fatehi[2] touched on that aspect in their presentations. As did Ellen Mulder[3] who talked about the absence of the body, or the disappearing body, and the body only existing because it is reaches outward.
Thanks to Ellen Mulder for both the examples she has brought to our attention. We were reminded one can be partially disembodied, or at least not embodying the complete situation. As she pointed out, we may all be confronted to a failing or unresponsive body which may not respond to our commands anymore. We might even forget to be at the command of it.
On stage, nowadays, all kind bodies, with different statures, features, able or disabled bodies, skilled or infantile bodies, animated or inanimated bodies are represented. This results in an incredible diversity of representation of the human or non human nature.
But I would like to come back to the first body upon which we gazed on the first day of this IPPT symposium. Deliberately, it’s owner chose not to present it, in the way we are used to be confronted by it on a stage; especially in a black box, where all gaze is converging toward the skilled body of the performer. This could have been perceived as a disappointing experience. Setareh Fatehi had chosen to present herself but to shadow her own body, to dilute its contour into the obscurity. Turning her back to the audience, she forced us to look through her body as if it was transparent. Inviting us to reflect upon the paradigm Avicenna is creating on perceiving oneself through the concept of the flying body but also inviting us to engage with the otherness and the materiality of the images of the other bodies Setareh had captured in her films. Like the grandmother having an inner image of herself but whose rheumatic affected body is unable anymore to be the young dancer who learned folkdances with the Russian soldiers at the Afghanistan border. Or like the young Setareh dancing in front of her image as if in the classical tradition of ballet; or as herself amongst the other participants disappearing in their shapeless winter clothes in a workshop in the desert of Anarak where Katarina Bakatsaki addressed the question of “what kind of body do you want to train with”; or even focusing on the micro landscape at the surface of her skin.
Setareh deliberately decided to disembody herself to be present in her own narrative, but she was also positioning her body like other materials in an intermedial narrative. She was not flying (as in Avicenna’s paradigm) but lying on the ground. Resting on her flank, even though we had some difficulties to make her out or to hear clearly what she was saying, we could imagine her flying above her own body, reaching towards her prone, abandoned body from above, being in and out, whilst we were capable of connecting or disconnecting with her corporeality and to mentally re-assemble all the elements of her performative discourse. Turning her back to us, all seated in a theatre in Utrecht, Holland, forced us to look with her in the direction of the Middle east, where the Islamic law imposes political and moral restrictions on the individual’s body and the community of bodies. Nonetheless, she introduced the ambiguous bodies of “Women with moustaches and men without beards”[4] and she also created a new agency documenting her position with different archives and corporeality’s. Dreaming, imagining, are functions we called upon in our two days of reflection at the IPPT platform focusing on Embodiment/Dis-embodiment. In my view, Setareh confronted her present body in the context of a period of the history of performance where disembodiment was a major preoccupation for post-modern dancers. So, I could associate Setareh turning her back to us with Trisha Brown’s solo “If you could not see me” where she turns her back to the audience. Let me leave you with what Steve Paxton[5] said of this solo: ” You cannot know, but may have heard from others, what the sculpture of your back can accomplish. It is Indonesian in line and volumes: richly shadowed and starkly lit in its highlands, it became an abstraction shifting from an anatomical event with muscles like a whippet to a large looming face to a mask—something alien and frightening although weirdly comic as the rest of the body reconnects and we see again a back »
Again, many thanks to Setareh. She made of her corporeal presence an abstraction; her body became a medium, the invisible became visible, those absent bodies which belong to our collective society, memories from her past condensed with our past and present.

[See also Alternatives Théâtrales for the published article on the same event}.
Bio Notice Alix de Morant:
Alix de Morant, Lecturer in Theatre & dance studies, Department of Performing Arts, University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3/RIRRA 21. Mentor at Exerce Master of choreograpy. ICI-CCN-Montpellier/ University of Montpellier. Her vision as a researcher is placed under the acceptation of an “expanded theatre”, considering the increasing amount of theatre makers and other performers acting outside the traditional contexts of theatre stages. Her personal research has developed from her PHD, titled Artistic nomadisms – aesthetics of fluidity (2007) and focused on the influence of cultural nomadism. This is represented by how the combination of virtual reality, geographical mobility and cosmopolitism interacts with philosophy and aesthetics and enriches a new type of artistic production. This results in a diversity of new theatrical forms, mostly performed in transient spaces, combining various social and aesthetic motives. In her most recent publications, she has led further investigations on art and cognitive sciences.
[1] Katarina Bakatsaki, « How much is embodiment anchored to our human body and how much does it apply to other bodies living or inanimated ». Katarina Bakatsaki is a choreographer.She teaches at HKU Utrecht. Former artistic coach at SNDO Amsterdam, she was the coordinator of the IPPT Platform Utrecht 2017.
[2] Setareh Fatehi, « Bodilessheads from Anarak to Mainz », IPPT Platform 2017.
[3] Ellen Mulder, « On the concept of embodiment and disembodiment in sports ». Ellen Mulder is a PHD student at Gloucesterhire University.
[4] Afsaneh Najmadabi, Women with Moustaches and Men without beards, gender and sexual abieties of iranian modernity, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2005.
[5] Steve Paxton, Letter to Trisha, Contact Quarterly, Vol. 10 No. 1, Winter/Spring 1995.

Chapter 2: Materials and Methods, Conversation in Tehran

In this chapter, Shahrzad and Setareh developed a Bibliography that categorise their textual discoveries according to content and medium. This bibliography will be shared with their public in the conclusion event in August in Rooberoo Mansion in Tehran.
They also made a video documentation commissioned by Arts Cabinet entitled “Collaboration or Coexistence”, reflecting on the process of collaborating in between artistic and scientific processes. This video was made in Anarak, a desert town in Iran as a dialogue between Shahrzad and Setareh and it was moderated by Kiarash Alimi.

In this video Shahrzad and setareh mention the already existed organic relationship between them as friends and citizens of the same city which helped them maintaining their dialogue and keep their questions developing regrdless of the difference in their decipline meaning art and history. They refer to different processes of researching in each diciplines and how much their curiosity about the other process made it possible to depart from their comfort zones. Next to playing different methods of delivering a text and looking at it as a performative object, they also refer to other side products that came out of this short collaboration or long coexistence.

Chapter 3: Healthy body (as vessel for the soul) in the Medieval Islamicate (Lecture)

In chapter 3, which was delivered on the 2nd of July in “Alte Medizin” conference on “Body and the Medicine in the Ancient World” (Institute of History, Theory and ethics of Medicine of Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz), Shahrzad presented a paper on “Healthy body (as vessel for the soul) in the medieval Islamicate world” focusing on one single instance: Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusain b. ʿAbdullāh b. Sīnā, the tenth century scholar known to the west as Avicenna.


Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusain b. ʿAbdullāh b. Sīnā, the tenth century scholar known to the west as Avicenna, follows Aristotle in defining the soul as the first entelechy of the body. Furthermore, in his world, the body is conceived of as a tool for the soul to reach its utmost perfection. In such a framework, health of the body is considered as a virtue to be cultivated by all human beings. Although a medieval thinker, Avicenna draws heavily on antique and late antique sources; the Hippocratic and Galenic corpus and the late antique encyclopedic tradition, among others. Avicenna’s body of works is an interesting case study to observe cultural appropriation, as ideas and concepts percolated from the late antique Mediterranean world into the Medieval Islamicate world.
Although there is a need for Avicenna to hypothesize and theorize a non-corporeal soul, to survive the physical death of the body (in accordance with the teachings of Islam), it would be interesting to see to what extent Avicenna remains a materialist in the medical realm. I would like to address the implications of a shift in worldview in the Islamicate world (compared to its Hellenistic heritage), with regard to an immaterial soul, in defining the physical body and its health. I expect the overall definition of health to be loyal to the Hellenistic heritage: the humoral balance for each individual body, as manifested in bodily functions. However, I would like to discuss the nuances acquired by this definition in the Islamicate tradition. In the absence of an anthropomorphic god, and the absence of a visual tradition for depiction of the ideal physical body, this paper will put forth contentions as to what comprised an ideal healthy body in Avicenna’s world.
To reconstruct the theoretical tension between body and mind/soul, and present a definition of “healthy body” in its context, I would be focusing on two Arabic primary sources: al-Qānūn fī ṭ-Ṭibb (Canon of Medicine), especially the first book on the Principles of Medicine, and Najāh (The Book of Deliverance), a summary of Kitāb aš-Šifāʾ (The Book of Healing). I will present Avicenna’s famous “flying man” thought experiment with its implications for mind-body problem. I will then discuss the theory of Ventricular Localization of the Inner Senses as Avicenna’s way of reconciling the immateriality of the mind with the physicality of the brain. Finally, I will present the definition of healthy body against this soul/mind-body theoretical tension.
This proposed paper would be my contribution in the framework of the Artist Researcher Fellowship project “Bodiless Heads”, supported by Arts Cabinet.

Chapter 4: Ideas in flux, bodies in movement

BRISMES Annual Conference 2017
Movement and Migration in the Middle East: People and Ideas in Flux
Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh | 5 – 7 July 2017

Our fourth chapter is dedicated to discussing how historical exchanges in relation to ideas, cultures, and languages have come to shape the way we address the body in our cultural context. In our fourth chapter, we discuss and ask how flux of concepts and ideas from the Greek philosophical traditions and their dialogue with an ancient near eastern tradition has shaped our current conceptualization of the body and its relation with the mind/soul. In going back into the historical background of our cultural context, we have come to the need to rephrase how we define the “boundaries” of our project. Rather than delimiting our project “to” the (supposed) Islamicate world or the Middle East, and trying to show the connections of this supposed region with the rest of the globe, we would like to talk of a point “from” which we navigate out. Furthermore, we have been surprised by the way our project has unfolded so far has challenged the West/East delimitation of cultural geographies.
In a matter of 30 to 40 minutes, we presented our questions through a lecture performance. The main questions received from the audience were about the immanence and transcendence, in the spiritual traditions of the middle east and what role those play in our life today . How can we deconstruct our modern mind, which tends to be science based and finite with the help of lyrical, poetic and fluid observation? We did touch the problem of overratedness of individualism as a contemporary practice in dealing with immigration of bodies and concepts. “This kind of narratives need to be told, cuz when you are in it you tend to forget that ideas are in flux and people have always been moving” says one of the members of our audience. “This protracted conflict is exacerbated right now, by technology, you can not ignore it anymore; it’s on your phone, it’s right at your doorstep; but still to deliver that without diluting the visuals or the message, in a different context than this academic conference is quite a difficult job to do.”


The effect of delivering a lecture with the playfulness that is not common within the set up a conference, taught us a lot about different and in my opinion more interesting methods of dissemination of content. This way of presenting also created a different engagement of the audience within the academic structure of a conference like BRISMES. Even within this structure there are so many choices that can be made and thought of to deliver a text without weakening the message. Bodies tend to be forgotten when we start to think, read and listen and we all tend to define focused attention through a still body. What we showed in BRISMES brought up the desire of physical interaction and lyrical interpretation as ways to get inspired by the content. We realized that in fact we could have gone a step further by not introducing our work as a Lecture Performance, which seemed like something different than a normal panel, in order to generate a real intervention in the setup of an academic conference. Our audience were quite confident that our content was as much valid as an academic lecture and the performance aspect of it could be just a new way of communication that was suggested through our choices for the composition of space, bodies and images. This encounter specifically helped us a lot in understanding the impact of our proposed methodology of collaborating in between art and sciences on the experience that our audience had.

You can watch the Lecture performance here.

Chapter 5: Lecture Performance: Report of an image, Tehran

Bodiless Heads is a research on traditions of depicting body in the Islamicate world. Bodiless Heads No.2 is a collaboration between Setareh Fatehi and Shahrzad Irannejad within the Arts Cabinet fellowship. They will share their discoveries and questions from Tehran to Mainz to Utrecht to Edinburgh, in Tehran on 9th of August 2017, at Rooberoo Mansion from 16:00-18:00.

This lecture performance marks the final stage of the research collaboration with Arts Cabinet, in an event realised in partnership with the Rooberoo Mansion. Tehran.