Farci.e, by Sorour Darabi
Sorour Darabi is an Iranian choreographer and dancer living in France. S.he belongs to the underground association ICCD, which organises the Untimely festival in Tehran, Iran. In an interview with Le Monde, the artist uses the pronoun “s.he” claiming she does not define himself/herself as “trans artist”, but as “non-binary”, seeking a “genre fluidness”. The performance Farci.e premiered in 2016 at the Danse festival in Montpellier, France. It is part of the Teatro do Bairro Alto’s programme within Alkantara Festival and is scheduled for November 21 at Lux Frágil.
Farci.e is a monologue where the word is practically non-existent. It addresses issues of language, gender, identity, and sexuality. The word is limited to an initial greeting – “bon soir” – and the farewell that ends the play – “merci”. The designation “monologue” applies because it is only a solo, there is an irreplaceable will and need to communicate. The Iranian artist is semi-dressed, with his/her legs unclothed. The setting is just a table, a chair, two bottles of water, and a ream of paper. The scene is prepared as if it were a conference. During the choreography, we feel that s.he will start to verbalize a speech, but that never happens. This feeling is also a consequence of the fixed and penetrating look that Darabi dedicates almost exclusively to the audience.
Due to Darabi’s androgynous and constantly changing body, the audience is confronted from the very first moment with gender and sexuality issues. His/Her discourse materializes in the body. Through the movement, the dancer builds his/her language, his/her way of communicating. The choreography is made up of micro-movements at a slow, gradual and exact pace. The leg play is evident and can be interpreted as one of the centres of movement of all action. The movement flows slowly, almost always from bottom to top. The Iranian dancer also explores the relationship of his/her body with the objects on stage. S.he removes their function, eating (almost) the whole ream of soaked paper and interacting with the table as if it were not even a table. The ream of paper soaks throughout the play, as the choreographer spits out and spills water all over it. By doing this, the artist may be addressing the issue of deconstruction. Using these objects as an example, Darabi underlines the possibility of deconstructing our own bodies, the possibility of constantly reinventing ourselves.
There is a silent question omnipresent during the play: what can discourse about identity and gender mean when it is articulated in a language that attributes a gender to the words themselves? In Farsi, the Persian language, there is no distinction between she and he. In French, as in Portuguese, everything is male or female. The word indicating gender in Persian – “jenssiat” – means “matter”. When it is applied to objects, it designates their materiality: the gender of the word table is wood, for example. Reflecting on the logic of this word, the Iranian artist says that his/her gender is the muscles, skin, bones and veins of his/her body. By accepting this definition, what is the gender of the word “gender”? What is its materiality? Darabi adds: “How can we think of a language that attributes a gender to ideas?” For the choreographer, it is a question of violence and “ingurgitation” of the established norms. The proposal of this performance is the opposite: to think in a language that nullifies the gender of thinking.
Farci.e is an insolent play that attacks authoritarian forms of manipulation. There is an unconventional body on stage, which wants to provoke and show itself. Through this body that wants to reveal itself, the dancer invites the viewer to reflect on his/her own condition: what is the gender of my body? Will my body have a gender? This performance, above all, affirms the beauty of the permanent change of the living gesture, the living body.