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The After - Party

Kurdistan’s landscape is as mercurial as its politics. Every mountain, river, ray of sun, pit of oil weighs heavy with symbolism: mountains as refuge, oil fought over, the sun on the flag. This is the reverie that stages sayran:

‘Finally, I could see the long, silk flag fall from the mountain peak, draping lengthways down the jagged cliff. Rock beneath silk threatening the shimmer of the flag’s satin sun. Car doors open, music blaring, a procession of flame torches led to the peak and we all danced around the bonfire taking turns to jump through it, soles of feet catching the tips of flames, legs of the living dancing with billowing thighs of the dead.

Asia gave Latif a wry smile. She was probably reminiscing about having danced that same dance when they fled to Iran in '85 and I couldn’t wait to have that kind of love that comes from facing danger together.

Bahraman’s peak was now bejewelled with sequinned dresses and matching lip gloss, glinting daggers tucked into hawri belts, choker upon choker of gold and precious stone, silver rings beating against daf drums, glossy hair, eyeshadowed eyes aflame for as long as our feet danced and deafened louder than a mine ever could.’

Through uninhibited song, identity becomes embedded within landscape and with each spiral of dancers, landscape transforms into talisman. Now, tar rivers illuminated by a glittering sunset hold the same protective power as the evil eye, where lashes are undulations of the Zagros mountains and shimmer in halparkeh.

Kurdistan is no longer that which is denied but an imaginative space of myth and communion where celebratory spirit, the provocation of cultural iconography and mercurial landscape comprise a space potent with magic and resistance.

Jala Wahid (*1988) received her BA from Goldsmiths College in 2014 and completed her PgDip in Fine Art at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2019. Exhibitions include: ScupltureCenter, NYC; Nottingham Contemporary; Serpentine Gallery.

Sophie Tappeiner, Wien
Sophie Tappeiner

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