“What We Say”

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2 mins read

With an introduction by Rena Korb

The summer of 2020 seems a moment oddly synchronous to interact with Bijan Mottahedeh’s video poem, “What We Say,” which challenges the individual’s senses as well as sense of humanity. Words, slurs like oven dodger, trailer trash, ugly, assault the ears in a cacophony of at least three overlapping but distinct voices. Undercutting the words — the things that people say — a steady, ominous rhythm beats, a drum that taps into primal sensations: the pulsing of a heart or the pounding of the drums of war. The words and music work together, filling and spilling out from the screen and onto the observer.

These sounds are accompanied by a sparse black and white video showing a somber-eyed woman dressed in a filmy blouse. She interacts with a series of props; a gauzy scarf, a rope twisted around her wrists, an open cardboard box that seems to entrap her; sometimes she is depicted through a photographic negative image. All of these details create a sense of her own intangibility. At the same time, and despite the rancor of the words, she projects little sense of urgency. Has the woman, like far too many members of society, come to accept these words? Has the spectator?

—Rena Korb

What We Say from visiland on Vimeo.

To contact Bijan Mottahedeh or view more of his artistic works, visit his website.

Click here to see more of Bijan Mottahedeh’s video poetry featured on DemCast.


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Bijan Mottahedeh is a photographer and a poet. He lives in San Mateo, CA.

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