tannaz motevalli

A seed amongst flesh... (April 2018)

"A seed amongst flesh" is a two-part performative piece written, produced, and performed in collaboration with Violet Eckles-Jordan as a part of the performance duo, SOFT MATTER. This documentation represents part-two, performed as a part of the group show “Traversing the Scaffolding” at The Condo Association in Chicago, IL.

SOFT MATTER is an artist duo, collaboratively combining the performative practices of artists Tannaz Motevalli and Violet Eckles-Jordan. "A seed amongst flesh" explores a blissfully dysphoric relationship to being in the world. This performance piece use objects, movement, and live-video to explore dysphoria as a mode of experience or a kind world-view.

Gently Off the Ground (February-March 2018)

This piece was conceptualized as a response to a performance score written by Udita Upadhyaya entitled "cradle: youmeusthem" for her solo-collaborative show, "nevernotmusic" at Roman Susan Gallery (February 18-March 11, 2018.) Two iterations of it were performed live; once on February 25th, 2018 and the other on March 11th, 2018.

“Gently Off the Ground” is my way of inhabiting and embodying the stories my grandmother has shared with me about her life during interviews I have conducted with her. They are silent movement pieces with an old seatless chair in which I attempt to find as many ways as possible to contain myself within it, balance and make peace with it, and make it do my bidding. In the struggle to negotiate with this queer and uncanny object, my body becomes alchemically transient, malleable, and porous. This piece is about my grandmother’s willingness to persist and survive despite circumstances causing her to live in ways she didn’t necessarily dream of - it’s about adapting one’s dreams and trying to find some joy in that.

Photos: Esther Espino

3 months and 28 days (April 2017)

In attempts to finally make work about my illness, Cystic Fibrosis, I use Bob Flanagan; his work, his life, and his death; as a sort of vessel through which I can explain my relationship to illness and performance. This performative lecture explores ideas of invisible disability, masochism, and performing with an ill body.

This performance contains extracts from the film Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist which contains imagery that some people may find challenging and potentially discomforting. 

Photo and Video: Jackie Rivas and Emerson Granillo

I urge you: bite me. (May 2017)

"For us, eating and being eaten belong to the terrible secret of love. We love only the person we can eat. The person we hate we ‘can’t swallow.’ That one makes us vomit. Even our friends are inedible. If we were asked to dig into our friend’s flesh we would be disgusted. The person we love we dream only of eating. That is, we slide down that razor’s edge of ambivalence.
The story of torment itself is a very beautiful one. Because loving is wanting and being able to eat up and yet to stop at the boundary. And there, at the tiniest beat between springing and stopping, in rushes fear. The spring is already in mid-air. The heart stops. The heart takes off again. Everything in love is oriented towards this absorption.

At the same time real love is a don’t-touch, yet still an almost-touching. Tact itself: a phantom touching.

Eat me up, my love, or else I’m going to eat you up.

Fear of eating, fear of the edible, fear on the part of the one of them who feels loved, desired, who wants to be loved, desired, who desires to be desired, who knows there is no greater proof of love than the other’s appetite, who is dying to be eaten up, who says or doesn’t say, but who signifies: I beg you, eat me up. Want me down to the marrow. And yet manage it so as to keep me alive. But I often turn about or compromise, because I know that you won’t eat me up, in the end, and I urge you: bite me.

Sign my death with your teeth"

- Hélène Cixous from Stigmata: Escaping Texts

Double Vision (November 2016)

This piece was produced and performed in collaboration with Lorena Barrera Enciso.

Two performers, seemingly identical - each other's double, peek out from behind the curtain. The body is cut up and divided in sections: hands, arms, feet, legs, face, etc. Their limbs performing little actions and gestures, they seem to have minds of their own. The audience furthers the division as they are instructed to view the performance through small square mirrors. A strange dance ensues as the audience, with their backs to the performance behind the curtains, move through the dimly light room attempting to see the performers through their now obscured vision. Along the walls, other audience members who were not given mirrors begin to sit in the stands. They watch the audience members with mirrors perform for them. The audience with mirrors have not realized that they have now become actors in the performance too. 

Photography: Jeremy Freedberg, Jordan Avery, and Benjamin Kolak

...fantasies are wild and reckless things and I often lose control. (November 2016)

This piece was written, produced, and performed in collaboration with Violet Eckles-Jordan as collaborative duo, SOFT MATTER. SOFT MATTER is an artist duo, collaboratively combining the performative practices of artists Tannaz Motevalli and Violet Eckles-Jordan.

This piece was originally created as a space for the artists to think through their pregnancy fantasies by trying to relate their unique and specific experiences with wanting children/wanting to be pregnant/and wanting to give birth to an innate desire in all humans to (pro)create. In this performance lecture, Tannaz & Violet make the argument that in the inaccessibility of the physical and psychological experience of birthing and pregnancy to be experienced by all bodies, as well as the institutionalization of pregnancy and the pregnant body, we respond through fear, fantasy, desire, and fetish of the act of birth itself. "Together, our bodies and words navigate spaces we can't reach. We find ourselves on the edge of possibility in what is still impossible, and it is a wild, reckless thing."

Photo and Video: Jeremy Freedberg and Benjamin Kolak