Narmine Sadeg is the artist in residence for both the Villa Arson in Nice and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Sadeg is also a lecturer of Fine Arts at the University Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux III. Between sculpture, drawing, video and installation, her works explore the notion of foreignness and invisible borders.
These works have been exhibited at various institutions such as: the Galerie Giovanna Minnelli in Paris, Museum & CAVS at MIT, the Contemporary Art Centre of the Villa Arson in Nice, the Basilisk Gallery of Copenhagen, and the Werkstatt Gallery in Berlin. One of Sadeg’s exhibitions includes a surreal and disconcerting 2004 installation ’Office of Diverted Trajectories’, which presents a multimedia interpretation of Attar’s mystical 12th century Persian folk tale, Mantegh Ol-Teyre (The Conference of the Birds).
I think that being Iranian has had an influence on my work. But this influence is not visible through a hybrid process mixing Iranian and Western cultures. I think that there aren’t that many exterior signs of “Iranianism,” if you can call it that, in my work. But what’s really important is the fact that, as an Iranian, I’ve lived a long time outside Iran, so far from my country and my culture, and this situation had consequences. I use the word extraterritoriality by which I mean this distance from my culture and my country. But a complicated situation can arise from a displacement. And for me, since this displacement, I think there was a feeling of not belonging to a culture.
The Significance of Birds
I’m mostly interested in the birds that have a deviated path, who do not reach their destination and I ask the visitors, or maybe I’m affirming, how are we to think about these birds: are they losers? Are we to consider them as losers? So, it’s an installation about that question in fact, about losers mostly, those who have a deviated paths. And it’s a participative, interactive installation and the public is invited to record their answer to that question. Two years prior to the installation, I started investigating among people with different backgrounds and I asked them with which bird they identified the most: those who reach their destination, or those who have deviated paths. And the result of the investigation runs on the screen.
I’m sometimes asked why these birds that managed to reach their ideal are presented as dead birds. The reason is that even if they reached their goal, they’re still dead, now. They’re dead because that’s the fate of man. All dead. And they cannot escape death. That’s why I showed them like that. Whether they have a deviated path or reach their ideal, both die in the end. I myself answered that question. This question, this questionnaire I gave others, I also answered and my answer was more like a quotation by Jean Cocteau …that we live in a train that’s going full blast toward death.