“Exquisite Corpse/Lavish Martyr” by Ali Momeni and MAW (2010)





This project uses live projected drawing in an outdoor urban setting as a medium for contemporary story telling. ECLM uses the surrealist game of “exquisite corpse” to create a social and performative context for contemplating the meaning of martyrdom in today’s world. “Exquisite Corpse” is a method by which groups of words or images produced by different authors are collected to synthesize a single composition. In the drawing game named after this method, each collaborator adds one section of a themed composition (often a figure) without complete knowledge of what the other contributors are producing. At the end of a round, these sections are assembled into a single image in order to produce a complete figure. In our this performance, we gathered drawn body parts from our performers, audience members using a mechanical theater instrument I designed for the project. Real-time network connections allowed a number of Iranian artists living and working in New York City, Paris and Tehran to also contribute to the drawings. A large scale panoramic projection on a wall on corner of Williams and 1st St. S. was the final result.

“Lavish Martyr” refers the significant and evolving trope of the martyr in Iranian religious, political, and civic discourse; from Shiite Imam’s Hassan and Hussein, to the millions of fallen soldiers and civilians of the 10-year-long Iran-Iraq war, to the victims of the recent opposition movement like the immortalized Neda Agha-Soltan whose death during a protest in Tehran was captured on film and viewed widely on the net. This work is an attempt to create a textual and pictorial conversation among four parties. A team of artists in Iran enter into an audio-visual dialog with a group of artists in San Jose through real-time collaborative drawing and animation.

Conception, Digital and Physical Design and Fabrication, Direction, and Video Collage: Ali Momeni

Fabrication Assistance: Luke Anderson, Maneli Aygani, Sinan Goknur, Davey T. Steinman, Andrea Steudel

Drawing Cart Coaches: Davey T. Steinman, Sinan Goknur

Skype drawing medium: Maneli Aygani, Andrea Steudel

Remote Skype drawings: Mani Nilchiani, Elika Hedayat, Payam Mofidi, Nazanin Aygani, Peyman Shefiee Zadeh

Sound: Luke Anderson

Documentation Video: Stian Rasmussen

Commissioned by the 2010 ZERO 1 New Media Biennial