Tanhaayi (Loneliness) 2017
Dancer and Editor: Bita Bell
Painter: Oldooz Robatian
On a cloudy December day, I met painter and makeup artist Oldooz Robatian at her apartment in Tehran. She and I spent a full day together talking about our personal lives as female Iranian artists and discussing Iranian politics. Our ideas connected and we decided to collaborate on a project together, on that very day.
At the time, Oldooz was working on a large scale painting project ‘Loneliness’. For both of us, loneliness meant more than just being alone. It resonated with how isolated we feel practicing our full identities as women and artists in Iran: Oldooz not being able to exhibit her political paintings and showcase her fashion designs, and me not being able to dance publically.
Through dance improvisation, I embodied our personal narratives and our discussion of Iranian politics together with the visual sensations from Oldooz’s paintings. I took some layers off and exposed my skin to express the vulnerable feelings we were both experiencing.
We tried to extend our collaboration after, but due to the distance it became very difficult. This short film became a documentation of reconstructing the movements, feelings, mood, and ideas that evolved on that day.
Our project shifted from a performative solo creation to visualization of a research process.
Documentation of dance improvisation, and even more the recreation of it, is extremely difficult. Dance is ephemeral and improvisation is often times forgotten. I wanted to keep the sensations alive in the visualization of the recreation of my improvisation.
My solo in the video was filmed within a small place, similar in the dimension of Oldooz’s apartment in Tehran –where we collaborated. When I was dancing, the painting was not physically present in any form, but rather I was relying on my memory of it. In the editing process, I layered the painting in real life proportions and adjusted the foreground and background in a way that it seemed as though I am in front of the painting. However, at times I merge into the painting, as if we are one. This visualization speaks to my experience investigating my improvisation without the painting present and the sensations of my memory staying active.