Act III : Other Trance

Artist Statement

In contrast to the dynamic actions I have just performed, I gently bow my head and enter a serene meditative state. After a lengthy silence, I begin slowly and quietly chanting the words of a Sufi-derived mantra in Arabic. Arabic is a foreign tongue to me, as my first language is Persian, another playful blurring of identity. Nonetheless, I passionately intone the words, Huwa Jameel wa Yahebbu Jameel (he is beautiful and he loves beauty), my voice slowly building in volume to fill the atrium. The phrase alludes to one of Abramovic's early works, Art Is Beautiful; Artist Must Be Beautiful (1975).

By the time my intonation ends, I am in tears, having transcended issues of identity and authorship. We have both arrived at a state of catharsis through opposing means—Abramovic through silence and I though mantra and ritualistic acts. I lower my head, rise from the table and exit the scene, leaving behind my wallet, a physical manifestation of my identity, further emphasizing my distance from concerns about labels or fitting neatly into prescribed classifications. In a marked and awkward disruption of the quarantine-like space defined by Abramovic, a concerned guard darts in to remove the wallet and return it to my hands. I refuse to accept the wallet, a final gesture emphasizing my separation from concerns of status and identity.