Omid Kheirabadi

performance - artistiek onderzoek

Omid's area of ​​research is humorously and confidently rooted in first-hand experiences and questions of global disparity in economics and legal status. He tackles questions of European (Western) hegemony, economic disparities, power, (artistic) labor, immigration, and discrimination head-on. His constant questioning of the State's mechanisms of denial and distancing of the middle classes from the mechanisms of production yields interesting work. The established practice of centering his own experiences is committed and the growing string of hourly fast-food jobs and services, pop culture, and the performer's body/character is relevant and grants easy access to all these topics. The results of the questions: What is a body? and What mechanisms define/restrict/ a (working) citizen? Have been realized in a number of brilliantly impactful pieces each time analyzing the positions, agencies, and responsibilities of an artist, a service provider, an international student, or a foreigner.

Alps sessions - During my artist residency at Chateau Mercier (Switzerland), I experimented with various performative strategies with a group of locals investigating carnival traditions in the Swiss Alps and especially the Valais region as a disrupting moment of the ruling order, seeking strategies of resistance. My focus was specifically on the Lötschental region and the figure of Tschäggättä: frightening figures wearing animal furs and carved wooden masks that walk the streets during carnival tossing soot or snow at onlookers. The custom developed during the valley's history of relative isolation, though its exact origins are a matter of debate. In collaboration with local artists in Sierre, we co-created improvised performances and explored a non-hierarchical and collaborative approach to artistic creation.
happening to one another - An improvisational moment occurred during the 'performance sessions' at the Goethe Institut in Rotterdam, in collaboration with Gab Branco, Claudia Ferrando, Daria Pugachova, and Rebecca Levy. Our project aimed to break the boundaries of traditional performance art, blurring the lines between performer and audience, creating a sort of short-circuit situation. Performing without an audience provided an ideal environment for testing ideas without the fear of results, unlike conventional rehearsals for dance or theater. Firstly, there was no creator, director, or script that we needed to follow. Secondly, there was no 'show-time', meaning that the rehearsal and the experiences of the performers were what mattered. Instead, we focused on collective self-expression and dialogue in a co-created situation involving all participants. By establishing an environment where participants felt comfortable with each other's bodies after multiple performative exercises, we entered a realm where difficult topics such as personal narratives of oppression could be openly discussed. Performing together created a space for engaging in discussions with less prejudgment or biases. Therefore, these moments became spaces for conversations, collective self-expression, and resonance with one another.
happening to one another - Omid's central research question delves into the potential of performance art for advancing social reform. Influenced by Bruguera’s ‘arte util,’ his practice aims to shift art’s role from signaling problems to proposing and implementing solutions. He does that in so-called "performance sessions"; gatherings where people, regardless of their artistic background, engage in improvised, co-created moments. In this series of performance sessions at Goethe Institute in Rotterdam, during his residency program, he collaborated with 12 artists, performers, dancers, and individuals from various backgrounds, where they immersed themselves in 8-day performance sessions, centering on narratives of oppression and diverse definitions of liberation. Performing without an audience transforms the medium into a space for dialogue between the bodies through touch as much as via language. Inspired by Boal's "Theater of the Oppressed", these sessions prioritized the quality of participant exchange, collectively delving into experiencing ‘the experience.’ Resembling rehearsal sessions, they differed in the objective: not to create a specific form, gesture, or story, but to rehearse to feel, to dare, and to perform without the fear of doing something wrong. The focus was on liberation through unrestricted improvisation, rejecting the constraints of predefined images or characters. “There is no script for social and cultural life,” anthropologists Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold (2007, p.1) wrote on the role that spontaneous acts of creativity might play in shaping notions of community and fostering new forms of social organization. The underlying idea is that improvised performances challenge assumptions ingrained in dominant knowledge systems.
belfast oppressed - In this performance session, all the participants were performers/spect-actors. The aim was not to focus on performing for a secondary audience, but rather on trying to see how the performers/participants can be affected by what they do, see, hear, and feel. During my residency in Belfast, I tried to understand the complex history and culture of Northern Ireland through various conversations that I had with the locals. These moments were the physical embodiments of my two weeks there.
inburgered (integrated) - Inburgered (Integrated) is a performance about the struggles of outsiders who try to integrate as “Dutch” citizens. Humorously rooted in his first-hand experiences and questions of global disparity in economics and legal status, labor, and discrimination, Omid turns his focus toward Dutch society from his perspective of living in the Netherlands as an artist in this performance.
alive & unborn - This theatrical performance was made in collaboration with Daphnis Monastirioti. Together with Siamak Misheni, they created sound pieces based on the text and gave shape to the sonic portrayal of the work. The performance is based abstractly on my master thesis 'Performing the Art of Intolerance' and influenced by 'Pedagogy of Oppressed' by Paulo Freire. The storyline is familiar. Humans are stuck in the oppressive mechanistic rhythms of a world of commerce where the love of death and violence is greater than the love of life. Is Hope the only thing that keeps us alive?
one day is too short, three days are too long - 20 March 2022 RE: Employment Verification for Pharaz Azimi, Rebecca Levy, Anneliese Greve, Omid Kheirabadi, and Maja Simisic To Whom It May Concern, This letter confirms that Pharaz Azimi, Rebecca Levy, Anneliese Greve, Omid Kheirabadi, and Maja Simisic have employed themselves to be part of this group exhibition on a part-time basis as Performance Artists. They agreed upon a confidential Agreement to perform only two days in the Nest Art Space with an address of De Constant Rebecqueplein 20b, 2518 RA, The Hague, The Netherlands on the 8th and 10th of April 2022 because one day is too short and three days are too long. They have no wages from this job, but they might receive some recognition in the local art scene. That could help them to position themselves as 'successful' art workers. The outlook for the future of their self-exploitment is promising, and we hope to have them as active as possible in the art world for many more years to come. Please feel free to contact us if you need additional information or verification. Sincerely, Pharaz Azimi Rebecca Levy Anneliese Greve Omid Kheirabadi Maja Simisic
eating art - I guess I was trying to push my idea at that time that if an artist works in KFC, then his/her/their artwork is the chickens and his/her/their clothes art. Besides the installation which was made possible thanks to my kind friend in KFC MArconiplein Rotterdam, I could perform eating in the gallery space when we talked art, politics, and culture. At the end of the exhibition, I tried to sell all the pieces performatively to representatives of fast food branches, and art institutions.
you only exist on paper - Dear Sir / Madam, ​ I hereby inform you that after entering this corridor you would be part of the discriminatory regime of the Dutch Government. We Proudly invite to be on the side of the oppressor, or as we put it, the 'safe side'. Step on the projected image of these potential threats to our democracy and flourish under the regime of debt and credit. Yours sincerely, ​ The State Secretary for Justice and Security.​ This letter has been sent automatically, therefore there is no signature underneath.
i’m free as a bird - This performance helped me to position myself as an artist and an ordinary wage laborer in the context of a neoliberal society. At the time I was a student at the art academy, and had to pay the tuition fees without any support, what happened next led to the creation of this project; an artist who spend most of his/her/their time working in a seemingly irrelevant minimum wage job, their creation as an artist and as a worker gets mixed up and at some point non-separable. 'i'm free as a bird' is one way representing all of us, everyone who breathes under a neoliberal regime.