Photos by Calista Lyon and Video by Andrew Ina


Created by Katie Coughlin:

“A sifter keeps the flour light, even as it accidentally sprinkles the surface of a countertop. It always leaves behind a dusting of its own existence. As a teenager, there were constantly clothes to take off the line. We had, at one point, 3 clotheslines reaching out from the windows to the telephone pole tucked away in the left corner of our backyard. The reaching of arms out the window as our legs anchored us inside was a brutal test of our ability to balance and stretch. Our body became a part of this apparatus-as it often does when we complete physical tasks; our joints propel us forward while shoulders and hips and heads bear weight and get worked. When our bodies become mechanisms, where does the boundary lie? Is the edge of our body the tip of our finger or is it the ends of the bristles of the broom as we sweep the floor? The elements in my work originated from specific remembrances – often involving a task being completed while the rest of a household moved around it. These objects reference specific fragments of familiar gestures. Harnessing traces of these memories, I seek to challenge notions of recognized movement and undertakings. The transformation from a remembered visual to a physical instrument enlarges an aspect of self, marking an extension of identity.”

Tanhaayi (Loneliness)

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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.


An Afternoon Break -/- from Trump!

I had Trump’s face projected on a pear, Persian cucumbers, carrots, and a bawl of Cheetos! In Iranian culture, pear and cucumbers signify dumbness. Carrots signify ignorance. On the carrots there was no projection: to add to the meaning of ignorance and also to cut audience’s expectation of seeing projections on all the fruits! The videos were from CNN reporting the signing of the first Travel Ban. The audio was cut and edited from Fox News, announcing the latest version of the Executive Order. This was to show the trajectory of these bans and the ongoingness of them. Next to the snacks, was a fruit knife that had a projection of protests in Columbus after the first ban. Metaphorically, saying that the people were “sharper”, meaning more powerful. The Fox News audio faded into the protestors singing “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” After the audio finished, the lights came up, and I invited the audience to cut some fruits and vegetables, and enjoy the snacks!

I liked the fact that it had a sense of dailyness to it. As we eat, these political actions and decisions are made, and we are just there, in our homes, eating some fruits and vegetables !

I also liked cutting the pear that Trump’s face was on. I felt that I was able to release some of my anger in a positive and healthy way!

Video of the piece/performance:

Video of showing with feedback:


This piece was made as part of the Devising Experiential Media System.

MakeyMakey Fortune Telly

I knew from the beginning that I want this project to incorporate tactile objects. I felt that keeping everything inside a computer screen does not necesarily incorporate other senses (touch, and space). I wanted to create a personal and intimate experience. So knowing that I needed objects helped me know immediately that I could use the makeymakey.

Unfortunately, since my macbook was stolen two months before, I had a hard time finding a computer to work with. ACCAD’s computers also had an issue with saving Isadora files. So the computer drama took some of my time and creative energy. However, I came up with a new idea!

I thought why not create a mysterious experience that does not include much verbal instructions. A small, quiet, fortune telling secretive room, with no one in there but the person curious to know more about their future!

I made a tiny space (similar to a fort) where the user had to crawl in under a table covered with blankets.

Took me a while to know how to get started with makeymakey. on PC the keyboard watcher identified A W D S as the arrow keys but on Mac it was just ‘ ‘ – the space representing whichever arrow key was entered. It was important to label my actors by arrow direction or makeymakey colored cables.

The way it  worked was, a key was clipped on the cable going to earth. The other four cables on the arrow keys were attached to paper clips, representing locks (wish I had real locks!). When the key would contact a paperclip and audio would go off. Every arrow key corresponded to a fortune telling, but the story was told in audio only. For example, a car engine starting and then crashing, or people clapping someone’s success/fame and then heart rate beep going off. They were ambient, and vague. One could imagine the scenes that the audio provided and make up their own story to it.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 9.03.46 PMScreen Shot 2017-09-17 at 9.03.56 PMScreen Shot 2017-09-17 at 9.04.03 PM