This month we have the pleasure of presenting Afrang Nordlöf Malekian’s performance and exhibition piece titled Keeping up with the Iranians.
Shortly after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the new leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, banned music in Iran, equating it to opium. Consequently, many artists relocated to Los Angeles to find new ways of making a living and pursuing their artistry in exile without the previously provided governmental support. This often happened through recordings or concerts of the musical genre dāmbuli dimbol since it was what people would dance to at mehmooni (a social gathering by invitation to someone’s home, e.g., dinner, dance party, celebration, etc.). It is a fugitive culture of dance, music, and joy, which has long been discredited by intellectuals, Marxists, Islamists, and Westerners as apolitical and poisoned art. However, through illegal sound distribution, it found its way back to Iran and resurfaced in the domestic sphere as mainstream culture. Repression has made this music the signifier of secret collectivity and freedom—a catalyst for realizing dreams.
The performance and exhibition Keeping Up with the Iranians emerge from this music history by reconstructing a mehmooni starring world-famous singers Setareh and Poupak, number one charting pianist Fereshteh, and renowned choreographer Dancing Dina, visiting all the way from Los Angeles, California. On their first-ever stop in Helsinki, these four divas will warm your Farsi up in a workout class and guide you through hidden music stores in Tehran all the way to the city of Angels while posing the question: a girl can leave Iran, but can Iran leave a girl the fuck alone? Come and take a slice of cake on the paper plates, I Have a Heart, I Have a Stomach, and sing and dance to dāmbuli dimbol songs that call for our most improbable and impossible dreams, asking them to triumph right there on the dancefloor!
Created and produced by artist: Afrang Nordlöf Malekian
Performers: Mia Herman, Sepideh Khodarahmi, Afrang Nordlöf Malekian, Edwin Safari
Graphic designer: Johnny Chang, Agga Stage
Poster photographer: Jean-Baptiste Béranger
Special thanks to: Edwin Safari, Nour Helou, Cristian Quinteros Soto, Theresa Traore Dahlberg, Annika Bergvik-Forsander, Moa West, and Fredrik Lundin.
Nordic Culture Club is a venue for cultural practitioners and enthusiasts from across the Nordic Region and around the world. Here, we experiment with and present unique interdisciplinary experiences with a mix of everything from dance, music, performances and interactive experiences to monologues, catwalks, drag, quizzes, installations, video works, and much, much more.