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To Clarify My Intentions on Khal

December 1st, 2016

This was written on September 15, 2015 as an attempt and conscious effort to clarify my intentions on Khal – a project I began in September 2014 while residing in Tabriz, Iran. I wanted to make clear that as an American of Persian and Azeri decent, my experience as a woman with freedom in America versus freedom as a woman in Iran (both post 1978) may appear different on the surface but both can be used to reveal something not talked about in the realm of the other.

9-15-15

To Clarify My Intentions:

Its important for me to acknowledge that the Khal project is not about saying that we as westerners have any right or responsibility to try and change the laws or culture of Iran.  I think artists in Iran have profoundly effective ways of dealing with their own government.  ‘Underground’ has a very different meaning in that country.  It means an outlet for expression that may be otherwise banned; it sprouts from necessity rather than desire.  It’s not outsider art, its insider freedom and its powerful and beautiful and does not require external interference.  It does not seek to be in the spot light, otherwise its freedom becomes threatened. 

What this project is about is presenting an action that connects one side of freedom to another.  I would not be allowed to perform the way I would like in Iran because of the existing laws and it’s not my position as a visitor to challenge those laws in a way that would risk my freedom as an artist.  So instead, I chose this gesture of sending scores out for artists outside Iran to perform publicly.  This action attempted to demonstrate a way of still creating and communicating language rather than letting the suppression of ridiculous laws stop the conversation.  Artists in Iran do not let such laws prevent them from making art; they are resourceful.  With Khal, I attempted to move beyond a direct critique of the laws that shaped its initial concept and in a way question our own supposed freedoms – the personal and political freedoms as an American. In America, we are allowed to perform publicly without asking a ‘ministry of art and culture’ for permission and without presenting our art to a censorship board for a stamp of approval, but still do we have the freedom we are made to believe we have?  Sure, we can go out and perform these scores publicly – but what are our own hang-ups?  Do we push the limits?  Do we express what’s meaningful, or do we hide behind the shadows of what we think we should believe?  We are allowed to sing solo in public, to use our voice for positive change, but do we?  We are free to create the kind of society we want to see, but is this it?  We are free to express our individualism, but doesn’t that just nurture our own ego?   We know we have the freedom to shout our opinions, but what about cultural meditation? Mind freedom. Do we have that? It’s easier to show paternal concern for the rest of the world’s freedom rather than take a harder look at our own, is it not?  

These questions led me to try and create a composition for ‘8 Pillars’, one of the 16 scores shipped abroad. I wanted to create a composition in the making (in the form of a filmed experience) because only in the creating process, can we begin to see and work through our own mental prisons. This film, 8 Pillars – A Free Score, was screened at Disjecta in Portland, Oregon for the exhibition, ‘Book of Scores,’ curated by Chiara Giovando in September 2015.

I believe in the power of voice and artistic expression to move us beyond unjust laws and paint a freedom that resonates internally, externally, and globally.  

Helga Fassonaki
2015

More Info about Khal project: 

ABOUT KHAL PROJECT

KHAL AT GLASSHOUSE, March 11, 2015

KHAL AT LACA, March 20 – April 9, 2015

KHAL AT THE AURICLE, October 8 – 30, 2015

KHAL PUBLIC PERFORMANCES AROUND THE GLOBE, 2015 

KHAL AT THE AUDIO FOUNDATION GALLERY, November 5 – 28, 2015 

KHAL AT VIEWFINDER AND NGA TAONGA SOUND AND VISION, Nov – Dec 2015

KHAL AT NGA TAONGA SOUND AND VISION, November 2015

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One Song Two Sides Bold Breathing – MISSING

August 31st, 2016

a living score – a language used to tell a story, communicate a process, and provide instructions while remaining transient and undefined

One
Song
Two
Sides
Bold
Breathing

lost_score1  lost_score2
one_song_two_sides_sketch1  one_song_two_sides_bold1

went forever missing to an unknown admirer thief,  to a fourth interpreter, to the sea of lost mail, to the piccolo player in the clouds, to albert ayler, to its original recipient matana roberts, to the bureau of sacrificial arts,  to the ministry for desired art, or to the museum of lost art.  somewhere it is resting in peace.

August 2016

Here’s the story:
I sent 15 of the 16 scores back to the recipients I initially created them for, after their final appearance of Khal at Audio Foundation Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, to locations around the globe.  The recipient of the above score, Matana Roberts, was in the process of shifting homes and said to keep her score.  After meeting this amazing underground dancer (literally underground) from Tehran, Iran at the opening of Khal at Nga Taonga Sound & Vision in Auckland (random and thrilling!), I knew this project wouldn’t end when I got back to the US.  I asked the dancer, Maryam Baghe Irani, if she would interpret one of the Khal scores into a solo dance piece.  She said yes.  The exchange occurred in November 2015.  The score (originally made for Matana), was finally on its way to Auckland on July 18, 2016.  My movements are slow.  She was to interpret it into a dance, send me a video recording of the performance, and I would then compose music to accompany it.   While more ideas were being exchanged, on August 10th 2016, I had the misfortune of receiving the package I had sent Maryam ripped and re-taped in a plastic bag, with a lovely note from USPS letting me know that they care and another letter stating that they found this empty parcel in the mail and believe that the contents were separated during handling.  It made it as far as LAX transit from Highland Park, Los Angeles.   This score survived Iranian customs and postal service, the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, Brooklyn to Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean, the Coral Sea, the Tasman Sea, but then lost highway from Highland Park to LAX before even leaving the city.

Despite the score’s physical disappearance, Maryam will still be interpreting the visual score (from images I sent her) into a dance sequence and I will still compose the music.
one song two sides bold breathing will forever remain a living score.

lost_score4
bundled score getting ready to be shipped to New Zealand
july 2016

 

UNITED STATES
POSTAL SERVICE

 WE CARE

 

Dear Postal Customer:

We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service.  We hope this incident did not inconvenience you. We realize that your mail is important to you and that you have every right to expect it to be delivered in good condition.

Although every effort is made to prevent damage to the mail, occasionally this will occur because of the great volume handled and the rapid processing methods which must be employed to assure the most expeditious distribution possible.

We hope you understand. We assure you that we are constantly striving to improve our processing methods in order that even a rare occurrence may be eliminated.

Please accept our apologies.

Sincerely,

Your Postmaster

 

 

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Khal at Nga Taonga Sound and Vision

December 31st, 2015

November 17 – December 11, 2015
Nga Taonga Sound and Vision 
Auckland, New Zealand 

'8 Pillars - A Free Score' performed by Julia Santoli and Helga Fassonaki at Disjecta in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Paula Booker

'8 Pillars - A Free Score' performed by Julia Santoli and Helga Fassonaki at Disjecta in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Paula Booker
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ABOUT KHAL PROJECT

KHAL AT GLASSHOUSE, March 11, 2015

KHAL AT LACA, March 20 – April 9, 2015

KHAL AT THE AURICLE, October 8 – 30, 2015

KHAL PUBLIC PERFORMANCES AROUND THE GLOBE, 2015 

KHAL AT THE AUDIO FOUNDATION GALLERY, November 5 – 28, 2015 

KHAL AT VIEWFINDER AND NGA TAONGA SOUND AND VISION, Nov – Dec 2015

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Khal at the Viewfinder

December 31st, 2015

November 11 – 24, 2015
Viewfinder window
Auckland Central Library, New Zealand

'8 Pillars - A Free Score' at Viewfinder

'8 Pillars - A Free Score' at Viewfinder
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ABOUT KHAL PROJECT

KHAL AT GLASSHOUSE, March 11, 2015

KHAL AT LACA, March 20 – April 9, 2015

KHAL AT THE AURICLE, October 8 – 30, 2015

KHAL PUBLIC PERFORMANCES AROUND THE GLOBE, 2015 

KHAL AT THE AUDIO FOUNDATION GALLERY, November 5 – 28, 2015 

KHAL AT VIEWFINDER AND NGA TAONGA SOUND AND VISION, Nov – Dec 2015

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KHAL AT THE AUDIO FOUNDATION GALLERY

December 25th, 2015

November 5 – 28, 2015
Auckland, New Zealand

Khal Scores exhibited at Audio Foundation

Khal Scores exhibited at Audio Foundation
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ABOUT KHAL PROJECT

KHAL AT GLASSHOUSE, March 11, 2015

KHAL AT LACA, March 20 – April 9, 2015

KHAL AT THE AURICLE, October 8 – 30, 2015

KHAL PUBLIC PERFORMANCES AROUND THE GLOBE, 2015 

KHAL AT THE AUDIO FOUNDATION GALLERY, November 5 – 28, 2015 

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KHAL AT THE AURICLE GALLERY OF SONIC ARTS

December 21st, 2015

October 8 – 30, 2015
Christchurch, New Zealand

'Remove' score

'Remove' score
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ABOUT KHAL PROJECT

KHAL AT GLASSHOUSE, March 11, 2015

KHAL AT LACA, March 20, 2015

KHAL AT THE AURICLE, October 8, 2015

KHAL PUBLIC PERFORMANCES AROUND THE GLOBE, 2015 

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Khal Scores performed around the globe – 2015

December 19th, 2015

In September 2014, Helga Fassonaki sent scores in the form of sculptures from Tabriz, Iran to sixteen female artists and musicians living abroad to perform in public in lieu of her ability to do so legally in Iran.

Artists who received Fassonaki’s scores include Rachel Shearer & Beth Ducklingmonster (Auckland, NZ), Kali Z Fasteau (NYC, NY), Kelly Jayne Jones (London, UK), Heather Leigh (Glasgow, Scotland), Jenny Graf (Copenhagen, Denmark), Zaimph (Brooklyn, NY), Chiara Giovando (Los Angeles, CA), Shana Palmer (Baltimore, MD), Purple Pilgrims (North Island, NZ), Rachael Melanson (London, UK), Christina Carter (Austin, Texas), Gabie Strong (Los Angeles, CA), Ashley Paul (London, UK), Angeline Chirnside (Auckland, NZ) , Matana Roberts (NYC, NY), and Kathleen Kim (Los Angeles, CA).

Additional participating artists include Suki Dewey (Califon, NJ), Fariba Safai (San Francisco, CA), Nazanin Daneshvar (NYC, NY), Yasi Alipour (NYC, NY), Laura Sofia (NYC, NY), Julia Santoli (NYC, NY), Stainer Black-Five (Christchurch, NZ), Mela (Christchurch, NZ), Misfit Mod (Christchurch, NZ), French Concession (Christchurch, NZ), Instant Fantasy (Christchurch, NZ), Hermione Johnson & Zahra Killeen Chance (Auckland, NZ), Liz Maw (Auckland, NZ), and Piece War (Auckland, NZ).

Upon Interpreting the scores, the participants performed them publicly in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. The following videos document their performances and actions.

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Khal at Nga Taonga Sound & Vision – November 18 – December 11, 2015

November 15th, 2015

‘8 Pillars’ Score for Rachel Shearer

‘8 Pillars’ Score for Rachel Shearer

8_pillars_a_free_score

8 Pillars – A Free Score at Viewfinder window
November 11 – 24
Auckland Central Library, 46 Lorne Street, Auckland

Khal at Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

November 18 – December 11
300 Karangahape Rd Newton, Auckland NZ
Launch – November 17, 6pm
Performances
– 8pm

Nga Taonga Blog 

KHAL continues to document a living score as a language used to tell a story, communicate a process, and provide instructions while remaining transient and undefined.

Presented alongside Fassonaki’s filmed reinterpretation of her score 8 Pillars will be Khal Open Book – an archival box filled with score images, text, notes, interviews, and performance stills collected from September 2014 to current and includes conversations, exchanges, and actions that took place between Fassonaki and the sixteen plus artists involved.

Angeline Chirnside, Purple Pilgrims, and Rachel Shearer – three of the original score recipients have chosen three new Auckland-based artists to perform the scores for the opening:
Tuesday November 17, 8pm
featuring:
Hermione Johnson & Zahra Killeen Chance will perform ‘Hypocrisy’
Elizabeth Mary Maw will perform ‘Hum Hum Hum Hum Hum’
Piece War/ Live Visuals by Cutss will perform ‘8 Pillars’

8 PILLARS – A FREE SCORE
Working with the idea of a score as a living force containing the power to shape and reshape what enters our senses, Helga Fassonaki reinterpreted one of her scores ‘8 Pillars’ (originally created for New Zealand artist Rachel Shearer) into a performance composition for seven women. It was filmed on Independence Day 2015 in a forested area in Oldwick, New Jersey. The women (each representing a pillar) move in a slow and deliberate motion mirroring their meditative wordless humming of the Star Spangled Banner as they form a circular shape around the forest trees. The cameraperson is also one of the pillars whose motion and view is revealed through another camera frame that remains still, documenting the process of a composition being created but never finished. The group voices fade as one voice (the missing eighth pillar) continues chanting the anthem until the song becomes unrecognizable.

Presented as a kind of paradox, the ‘8 Pillars’ composition explores two sides of freedom – personal vs political, whilst stripping content from song until the sacredness of a singular voice is revealed. A solo voice whether banned by political law or censored by our own fears is a vessel for a powerful recalcitrant freedom, one that is always vulnerable to attack no matter how ‘free’ a country is.

Performers featured in the film include: Yasi Alipour, Julia Santoli, Gabie Strong, Nazanin Daneshvar, Laura Sofia, Suki Dewey, and Helga Fassonaki (also as cameraperson)

Solo Vocals: Julia Santoli

Watch 8 Pillars – A Free Score 

8 PILLARS LIVE PERFORMANCE (September 26, 2015)
Julia Santoli (solo vocals) alongside Helga Fassonaki performed the next sequence of the ‘8 Pillars’ filmed composition at Disjecta in Portland, Oregon. As Santoli continues to hum a deranged Star Spangled Banner anthem, the notes are elongated and blurred into solid tones of color.

KHAL OPEN BOOK
Presented as an unpublished book – an archive open to edits, renewal and dialogue. Contains notes, interviews, spoken words, score drawings, performance stills, and past exhibition iterations gathered from September 2014 to present from original score recipients:
Kali Z Fasteau (NYC, NY), Kelly Jayne Jones (London, UK), Heather Leigh (Glasgow, Scotland), Jenny Gräf (Copenhagen, Denmark), Zaïmph (Brooklyn, NY), Chiara Giovando (Los Angeles, CA), Shana Palmer (Baltimore, MD), Purple Pilgrims (North Island, NZ), Rachael Melanson (London, UK), Christina Carter (Austin, Texas), Gabie Strong (Los Angeles, CA), Ashley Paul (London, UK), Angeline Chirnside (Auckland, NZ), Matana Roberts (NYC, NY), Rachel Shearer with Beth Ducklingmonster (Auckland, NZ), and Kathleen Kim (Los Angeles, CA).
AND
additional participating artists:
Suki Dewey (Califon, NJ), Fariba Safai (San Francisco, CA), Nazanin Daneshvar (NYC, NY), Yasi Alipour (NYC, NY), Laura Sofia (NYC, NY), Julia Santoli (NYC, NY), Stainer Black-Five (Christchurch, NZ), Mela (Christchurch, NZ), Misfit Mod (Christchurch, NZ), French Concession (Christchurch, NZ), Instant Fantasy (Christchurch, NZ), Hermione Johnson & Zahra Killeen Chance (Auckland, NZ), Liz Maw (Auckland, NZ), and Piece War (Auckland, NZ).

More about Khal

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Khal at the Audio Foundation gallery – November 5 – 28, 2015

November 3rd, 2015

KHAL_AF_web
K H A L

5 November – 28 November 2015

Opening – 5 November, 5:30pm
Performances – 5 November, 7pm

The Audio Foundation Gallery
4 Poynton Terrace Auckland, NZ

An iteration of Khal, an ongoing project begun by Helga Fassonaki in Tabriz,
Iran in September 2014 will be exhibited at the Audio Foundation Gallery
from 5 November – 28. Fassonaki sent sixteen sculptural scores abroad for
sixteen female artists to interpret and perform publicly in response to a ban on
female solo performances in Iran. The original scores and recorded interpretations
by the participating artists will be exhibited.

Four of the original score recipients will be performing Fassonaki’s scores live
on 5 November:

Kathleen Kim – performing ‘Punk Standards’

Angeline Chirnside – performing ‘Hypocrisy’

Purple Pilgrims – performing ‘Hum, Hum, Hum, Hum, Hum’

Rachel Shearer with Beth Ducklingmonster – performing ‘8 Pillars’

ARTIST TALK – SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER, 2PM @ AUDIO FOUNDATION 

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CELESTIAL at the Audacious Festival of Sonic Arts, 24 – 26 October

October 21st, 2015

celestial_web

Celestial presented at the Audacious Festival stems from my project Khal, exhibited at The Auricle Gallery of Sonic Arts till October 31, 2015.

When asked to present a sound piece for the Audacious Festival, which began as a way consider the vacant lots in Christchurch’s central city as fading gaps in the collective memory of those who know the city, the idea of vacancy as something empty but open came to mind.  Thinking about a time when Iran was apparently encouraging its pop singers and female vocalists to perform in concert halls, clubs, and cabarets – all of which were forced to shut down following the 1979 revolution, I began to consider the relationship between physical and cultural vacancy.  Vacant is the culture’s soul that once occupied those spaces like a building swept away – both leaving only traces and echoes of stories remembered.  But while a space physical or cultural is still vacant, there is an open gap of imagined possibilities.  Past stories and new dreams.

I’ve reinterpreted the score ‘Celestial’ – one of the 16 Khal scores originally sent from Iran to artists (outside Iran) to perform publicly, into a sound installation which will occupy the corner of Manchester and Armagh street – a vacant lot since Christchurch’s 2011 earthquake.

The sound is comprised of twelve solo vocal recordings from female artists in Iran singing the well known Iranian song, Morq-e sahar (translated as Dawn Bird) sung by many renown singers including the iconic Qamar-al-Moluk Vaziri, who was the first Persian female vocalist to sing without the obligatory veil in 1924. Her performance of ‘Dawn Bird’ left a lasting impression on future generations of female vocalists. Most people in Iran know the song by heart. The first stanza is lyrical, and the second refers to more social and political issues.

The collected solo recordings (each recorded privately in Iran) have been layered one on top of each, forming an orchestra or group vocals (to be broadcast publicly). The physical vacancy of one city will be filled by remnants of the cultural vacancy of another.

The ‘Celestial’ score was made out of what was once a plastic table cloth found in Tabriz.  The tablecloth was cut into squares following the floral design.  The stack of squares is fluid, unbound, and unattached allowing for open interpretation.  On October 24th, starting at 10am at the vacant lot on 281 Manchester Street, the square pieces were sewn back together reforming its past sequence as the sound of ghostly non-choir, out-of-sync voices vibrated out of a single mono speaker mixing into the vast sounds of nearby construction projects.

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Khal in Book of Scores at Disjecta

September 26th, 2015

September 26 – November 1, 2015
Book of Scores, curated by Chiara Giovando  
Disjecta
Portland, Oregon

8 Pillars – A Free Score (live)
composed by Helga Fassonaki
performed by Julia Santoli & Helga Fassonaki for the Book of Scores opening – September 26, 2015

8 Pillars - A Free Score (live), photo by Sam Hamilton

8 Pillars - A Free Score (live), photo by Sam Hamilton
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Watch video on Vimeo

8 Pillars – A Free Score (film projection stills)
film features Suki Dewey, Nazanin Daneshvar, Yasi Alipour, Julia Santoli, Gabie Strong, Laura Sofia, and Helga Fassonaki


Watch video on Vimeo

Khal Open Book

ABOUT KHAL PROJECT

KHAL AT GLASSHOUSE, March 11, 2015

KHAL AT LACA, March 20 – April 9, 2015

KHAL AT THE AURICLE, October 8 – 30, 2015

KHAL PUBLIC PERFORMANCES AROUND THE GLOBE, 2015 

KHAL AT THE AUDIO FOUNDATION GALLERY, November 5 – 28, 2015 

KHAL AT VIEWFINDER, November 11 – 24, 2015 

KHAL AT NGA TAONGA SOUND AND VISION, November 17 – December 11, 2015

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Unpublished Interview with Jennifer Lucy Allen of the Wire

August 25th, 2015

Jennifer Lucy Allen of the Wire asked me the following questions about my project Khal on March 30, 2015.  As far as I know it was never published.  I thought I would share the Q&A as my responses offer insight  into the project’s early landscape.


Jennifer Lucy Allen:  Can you tell me a bit about the residency – who runs it, and how/why you applied?

Helga Fassonaki: It was not a residency.  I resided in an artist’s studio for a month, but maybe I confused people by saying that cause many folks have asked me how I got a residency in Iran.   My uncle is an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor from Tabriz, Iran who now lives and works out of a studio in Shomal, which is along the Caspian Sea.  Because of him I was able to have access to this studio in Tabriz, a city in Northern Iran, part of the East Azerbaijan region. 

JLA: Can you describe the location? (Paint a picture, if possible?)

HF: To me the studio felt like a shrine located in an older part the city, close to an ancient mosque, bazaar, bathhouse, and the museum of Azerbaijan.  The studio is three floors – the main floor where I worked was more of a creative thinking hub – a kitchen, lounge area with couch and a single bed for guests, and a rectangle dining table where we’d gather for long lunch exchanges.  I worked in one of the side rooms on this floor.   The middle floor was covered in paints and stacks upon stacks of paintings and books.  The bottom floor was the sculpting studio that was covered in plaster, cement, pottery and had a giant firing kiln. Half the space was filled with huge sculptures and both finished and unfinished projects.    There was a tower air shaft that connected the floors and filled with plants.  One of my studio mates who I really bonded with would work downstairs and sing while working.  With the air shaft windows open, her raw uninhibited voice would resonate upstairs to where I worked.   Listening to her voice while I made the scores greatly influenced my process and brought incredible attention to the lone female voice, more so because its banned from public exposure in Iran. 


JLA: How extensive was your knowledge of the restrictions on performing before you started the residency?

HF: I was very aware of the laws before going to Iran.  The laws were created post 1978, after the revolution, making it difficult for both men and women to perform music other than classical and traditional, especially anything coined ‘western’.  And most specifically the law that bans women from singing solo for mixed men/women audiences.

 

Before I left I knew I wouldn’t be able to perform in Iran publicly, though curious about the ability to do so secretly. But still assuming I wouldn’t, I had an idea for this project to not only draw attention to the issue but also as a way to activate a global response that embraces and acknowledges the freedom of artistic expression.   I invited 16 female artists to participate before I left – all 16 accepted to receive a score in a non-standard notation that they would perform publicly in leu of my ability to do so.

 JLA: How did you present the work at the residency?

HF: I presented no work while in Iran.  I shared my process and the completion of my scores with my studio mates who were supportive and interested in the idea.

I spent my time in the studio scouting for materials (found) and creating the sculptural scores, each one was personalized for the artist I was sending it to.  My own political, emotional, and social experience while in Tabriz, seeped heavily in the making of the scores as well.  My greatest research and window into artist’s struggles came from the artists that I shared the studio with.  So I spent a lot of my time conversing with them.  One of them helped me in the process of shipping the scores from Iran to the 16 addresses outside the country.  This was a huge unexpected mission in itself.  All art must past through the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s council of art and possibly await months for approval or rejection before it can even reach customs.  To avoid this, my studio peer suggested I go through the normal international postal route and avoid saying I’m an artist.  I had to take the 16 objects to the post office unpackaged so they can examine before they approve packaging. I told them they were hand-crafted gifts I made for friends overseas.  They thought I was nuts and maybe took pity on me which helped a bit.  It was a crazy process nevertheless.


JLA: What have you taken away from it, as an individual and an artist?

HF: From my time in Tabriz, I learned about the significance and strength of an art community that really supports one another – its power in overcoming the pressures of society and unjust laws.  And that feminism is not about what women can’t do…its about supporting what women do and women supporting other women.   

So far I’ve had many exchanges with the participating artists and been learning a lot – this conversation is ongoing as the project moves forward.  One thing I noticed in working with these artists is that often its our own fear of public expression that inhibits us rather than backward laws.
 
I’ve been introducing new artists to reinterpret the scores.  One of the new added artists, Suki Dewey did a free-style spoken word interpretation of all the scores live at the Glasshouse show in Brooklyn, NY. Through our exchanges she spoke about the inhibition artists in the US have in performing publicly in the streets as activists, speaking out – being radical, political.  She asked, ‘Are we really free?’.
 
As I’ve been exploring this issue and the art climate in Iran, its also made me question my own strengths and abilities as an artist in a western landscape.  I’ve been developing an even deeper emotional and physical connection with voice and its channeling capabilities.


JLA: How does this project relate to your other work? 

HF: Most of my projects move through different phases – changing, evolving, and developing along the way. Nothing feels permanent or finished.  Often I bring in other artists/musicians to respond, collaborate, or interact creating another dimension or layer to the work.  This project is similar where I laid out the initial concept and then offered it outside myself to be interpreted, reflected, acted, performed, altered, expanded and exchanged, in effect creating an on going dialogue and a community outside myself. What happens in transit is what interests me most.   All my work tends to be an experiment where the outcome is unknown.  I don’t really see the point in doing something I know the outcome of.   On the other hand, its not always a clean finish.


JLA: Has anyone’s response surprised you?

HF: Artists sent me audio/video documentation of their public performances which is currently [WAS] showing at Los Angeles Contemporary Archives.  I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but very touched by the active and conceptual thought that went into each artist’s different interpretations.  Many who don’t normally sing, used their voice and I think it challenged and pushed some artists out of their comfort zones. 

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KHAL AT LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY ARCHIVES

June 2nd, 2015

March 20, 2015 – April 9, 2015

'8 Pillars' score at LACA

'8 Pillars' score at LACA
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Photos taken by Jens Jonason and Helga Fassonaki, 2015

ABOUT KHAL PROJECT

KHAL AT GLASSHOUSE, March 11, 2015

KHAL AT LACA, March 20, 2015

 

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Walk Through of Khal at LACA – Thursday April 9

April 9th, 2015

Khal_walk_through2LACA_4_walls_scoreLACA_zaimph

 

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Walk Through of Khal at LACA – Monday April 6

April 3rd, 2015

Khal_walk_throughLACA_khal1LACA_Khal2

Photos taken by Jens Jonason, 2015

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Khal At LACA – March 20 – April 9, 2015

March 29th, 2015

Khal_LACA2 Khal_LACA1Khal_LACA3 Khal_LACA4
KHAL
Friday, March 20, 2015 – April 9, 2015

March 20, 2015
7:30 – 10pm – opening reception

Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA)
2245 E Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90021

An iteration of Fassonaki’s project Khal will be exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary Archives (LACA) from March 20 to April 9th where the original 16 scores and recorded interpretations by the participating artists will be exhibited.

Special guest artist Fariba Safai will open the event on March 20th with a vocal interpretation of one of the scores entitled ‘Celestial’

Three artists will be performing Fassonaki’s scores live:
Kathleen Kim – performing ‘Punk Standards’
Gabie Strong – performing ‘Armour’
Shana Palmer – performing ‘Reveal Closed’.

Description of Khal project 

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Khal at Glasshouse on March 11, 2015

February 23rd, 2015

glasshouse_one_two_sides_dirty
Khal – A project by Helga Fassonaki
Wednesday March 11, 2015 – 8pm

Glasshouse
246 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Glasshouse will be presenting the first iteration of Fassonaki’s project Khal on March 11th at 8pm. Sketched animation of visual scores will be accompanied by performing artist and environmental activist Suki Dewey’s spoken word interpretations.

Three artists will be performing Fassonaki’s scores live:
Zaïmph – performing ‘One Two Sides Dirty’
Kathleen Kim – performing ‘Punk Standards’
Kali Z. Fasteau – performing ‘5 Pillars’

Description of Khal project 

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Sonic Postcard – Holy Conch – Airing February 14 on AFM

January 29th, 2015

Rachael Melanson, producer of Sonic Postcards  presents sounds from my Holy Conch on AFM, the radio station at Audio Foundation (Auckland, New Zealand).  Also included is an interview where I chat about my project Khal.
Airing on 1-14-15, 4pm NZST
LISTEN HERE 

holy_conch_sp

More on Holy Conch

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Khal

October 28th, 2014

underground

In September 2014 Helga Fassonaki resided in an artist studio in Tabriz, Iran for a month. As a visual and performing artist, what she was able to share in public was restricted. Furthermore, as a female performing artist, the use of her voice in public performance was restricted.

Due to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini ‘condemned all forms of music, other than classical and traditional Persian music’ as influenced by western culture, and therefore corruptive and forbidden. Khomeini also forbade women from singing solo in public because of ‘the seductive quality of the female voice’.

Since performing as she chose was illegal in Iran, Fassonaki sent compositions in the form of sculptural scores created during her residency in Tabriz to sixteen female artists and musicians living in the US, the United Kingdom, Denmark and New Zealand. The concept being that the scores be interpreted and performed publicly by these artists in lieu of Fassonaki’s ability to do so.

Different iterations of Khal will be presented at galleries in the US and New Zealand as a traveling exhibition in 2015/2016 where the scores and their interpretations by the participating artists will be displayed, heard, and reinterpreted – pushing the idea of a ‘living score’ as an archive open to edits, renewal and dialogue. As the series unfolds from one event to another, Fassonaki seeks to create a composition of voices and actions. Like the idea of Khal, (a derogatory term in Farsi for Iranian Pop music that was sent to Iran by Iranian US immigrants in the form of homemade mixed tapes so that Iranian residents could listen to their country’s own pop stars).  Through these simple actions, the hope is that the reverberation of freedom of expression can echo back across the globe and via the clandestine channels of the world wide web find it’s way back to the country in which the scores had their origin.

The original recipients of Fassonaki’s scores include Kali Z Fasteau (NYC, NY), Kelly Jayne Jones (London, UK), Heather Leigh (Glasgow, Scotland), Jenny Gräf (Copenhagen, Denmark), Zaïmph (Brooklyn, NY), Chiara Giovando (Los Angeles, CA), Shana Palmer (Baltimore, MD), Purple Pilgrims (North Island, NZ), Rachael Melanson (London, UK), Christina Carter (Austin, Texas), Gabie Strong (Los Angeles, CA), Ashley Paul (London, UK), Angeline Chirnside (Auckland, NZ), Matana Roberts (NYC, NY), Rachel Shearer with Beth Ducklingmonster (Auckland, NZ), and Kathleen Kim (Los Angeles, CA).

Additional participating artists thus far include Suki Dewey (Califon, NJ), Fariba Safai (San Francisco, CA), Nazanin Daneshvar (NYC, NY), Yasi Alipour (NYC, NY), Laura Sofia (NYC, NY), Julia Santoli (NYC, NY), Stainer Black-Five (Christchurch, NZ), Mela (Christchurch, NZ), Misfit Mod (Christchurch, NZ), French Concession (Christchurch, NZ), Instant Fantasy (Christchurch, NZ), Hermione Johnson & Zahra Killeen Chance (Auckland, NZ), Liz Maw (Auckland, NZ), and Piece War (Auckland, NZ).


EXHIBITION & EVENT DATES: 

March 11, 2015Glasshouse in Brooklyn, New York, 8PM
live performances by Kali Z. Fastaeu (NYC), Kathleen Kim (LA), and Marcia Bassett (NYC)

March 20 – April 9, 2015LACA (Los Angeles Contemporary Archives)
live performances by Gabie Strong (LA), Kathleen Kim (LA), and Shana Palmer (MD)

September 26, 2015 (opening) – Disjecta (Book of Scores curated by Chiara Giovando) in Portland, Oregon

October 8 – 30, 2015  – The Auricle Sonic Arts Gallery in Christchurch, New Zealand
live performances by local artists on October 9:  Stainer Black-Five (Jo Burzynska), Mela (Helen Greenfield), Misfit Mod (Sarah Kelleher), French Concession (Ella), and Instant Fantasy (Gemma Syme) – 7pm.

October 23 – 27, 2015 – Audacious Festival, Christchurch, NZ – A public installation of the Score ‘Celestial’

October 25, 2015 – Artist Talk, Audacious Festival

November 5 –  28, 2015Audio Foundation Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand

November 14, 2015 – Artist Talk at Audio Foundation Gallery

November 18 – December 31, 2015 – Nga Taonga Sound & Vision in Auckland, New Zealand 

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Crystalline Morphologies sound+vision on KCHUNG TV

July 23rd, 2014

CRYSTALLINE MORPHOLOGIES
“This is an experiment in sonic feedback set against visual dissonance. Features videos and camera work by John Pearson, with sounds by Ted Byrnes, Aisling Cormack, Helga Fassonaki, Matthew Hebert, Greg Lenczycki, Jorge Martin, RJ Russell, Andrew Scott, Jared Stanley, Gabie Strong. Live video production by Jens Jonason, Luke Fischbeck and Margie Schnibbe”
Saturday July 26 2-14
12:30 – 1:30 pm PDT
UCLA Hammer MuseumAdmission to the Made in L.A. exhibition is free. Parking is $3.Live sound and video performance for KCHUNG TV
2014 Made in L.A. exhibition @ UCLA Hammer Museum
Broadcast live on http://kchung.tv 

KCHUNG TV – Episode 8 – July 26, 2014 from KCHUNG TV on Vimeo.

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Holy Conch

July 14th, 2014

HOLY CONCH
Helga Fassonaki, Oaxaca 2014

‘…one does not speak in a shell, one listens’ – (Patti Smith from poem ‘Conch’)

This project was inspired by Akio Suzuki’s ‘Listening Point’ project, Oto-Date, which I had the opportunity to experience under Suzuki and Aki Onda’s instruction during Field Studies 2014 in London.   A group of us were given maps and told to find one or more ‘listening spots’ that we later shared with the group.   No recorders, no instruments – our tools were our eyes and ears.  Our ears like shells brought us closer to an audible landscape. Holy Conch was realized with a similar intention – through the minimal act of listening allow the senses and mind to peel wide open.   Holy Conch was specifically realized while doing a residency in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Upon arrival to Mexico, I was quickly roused by the many different sights and sounds coming from every direction – It was sensory overload times 100.  I couldn’t focus on my intended project. Instead I wanted to be out of my studio and fully immersed in the cityscape.

After giving into the vibrant distractions, I decided to use churches as my listening spaces to somewhat escape the loudness – from bands to rockets to dance classes to kids shouting to drum circles to the iconic gas truck that drives with a jingle much like an ice cream truck to a man yelling ‘aqua’ every hour everyday, etc.  In contrast, I thought churches could act as spaces for inner-reflection – a solo dwelling place ideal for listening.  I located 18 churches in the Central Oaxaca area and for the remaining duration of my residency I visited a few a day.  Using each of these resonating chambers in essence as my work studio, I sat or stood underneath the dome ceilings or walked around the canals for as long as I felt like being there.  I often returned to the same church but never quite had the same experience twice.  These churches were never actually without sound.  With their doors open and much noise bleeding through, the churches were like the holy filters of society.  Sounds reflected, echoed, resonated, and transformed – yet there was silence in the form of stillness as separation from the outside world itself acted like a filter.  But with the sound of church bells came a subtle reminder of the hierarchical shape present within – a cone shaped golden spiral one can both listen through and hide within.

With a map and my notes, I invite visitors to have their own listening experience of Holy Conch, Oaxaca.

Please download PDFs and experience:
holy_conch_pamphlet_outside

holy_conch_pamphlet_inside

Holy Conch post live performance &  listening environment
June 30th, 2014
flyer

I created a listening environment in which I improvised live with segments of recordings I made in the different Churches – a byproduct to share with an intimate audience.  What fascinated me with the churches in Oaxaca was the underlying Pagan beliefs that were practiced before the Spanish arrived bringing over the Catholic religion (around 1521).  Many Catholic churches were built right over Pagan shrines or sacred places. The chosen spots revealed the Pagans’ close relationship with nature and land.

In my alter creation I included raw materials symbolic of a kind of Pagan ritual integrated with a Baroque gold backdrop, an essence of my sensory experiences during holy conch.  The creation of this new listening environment appeared to have meditative effects on the audience.

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Obracadobra – Artist in Resident

June 7th, 2014

JUNE 2014
reporting from studio in
OAXACA, MEXICO

slow_movement   3_pieces

missing_element

Studio sketches –

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FIELD STUDIES 2014

June 7th, 2014

LONDON 14 – 17 APRIL
Cours de Poetique 
fs

 

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Metal Rouge – Three for Malachi Ritscher CD exhibited at Whitney Biennial 2014

March 24th, 2014

Whitney Biennial 2014 – March 7 – May 25, 2014
Metal Rouge’s ‘Three For Malachi Ritscher’ album appears at the Whitney Biennial as part of Public Collectors’ show about Ritscher’s life, work and death.  We also contributed some words to Marc Fisher’s essay that accompanies the exhibition.


Public Collectors @ 2014 Whitney Biennial

Whitney Biennial 2014

Booklet published for the Exhibit can be read online:
http://www.publiccollectors.org/Malachi_Ritscher_Whitney.pdf

Selected Press Links:
http://badatsports.com/2014/remembering-the-dead/
http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/whitney-biennial-2014-commentary-overstuffed-shows-and-the-life-and-death-of-malachi-ritchser/
http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-30270-whitney_biennial_foc.html

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January 10th @ Human Resources

January 3rd, 2014

IMG_1076

Gabie Strong
Ted Byrnes / Jacob Wick
yek koo
Obscurer

9pm / $5
Human Resources – 410 Cottage Home Street Chinatown Los Angeles

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Metal Rouge UK/Euro Tour Targets – Oct 5 – Oct 25

December 6th, 2013

Volcanic Tongue 10/5/13
1 Target

Cafe Oto - 10/6/13
2 Targets

Kraak - 10/7/13
3 Targets

Ecuyes - 10/10/13
5 targets

Odyssée - 10/11/13
6 Targets

La Cantine de Belleville - 10/12/13
7 Targets

Velvet Club - 10/13/13
8 Targets

Spazio Targa - 10/15/13
9 Targets

Hybrida - 10/16/13
10 Targets

mo.e Thelemanngasse 4/1 - 10/18/13
12 Targets

Walpodenakademie - 10/20/13
13 Targets

The Student - 10/22/13
15 Targets

Roodkapje - 10/23/13
16 Targets

Servants Jazz Quarters - 10/24/13
17 Targets

The New Bradford Playhouse - 10/25/13
18 Targets

LIST OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS IN AMERICA

How gun control is losing, badly (in charts) by Niraj Chokshi in The Washington Post

Inside the Power of the NRA by Robert Draper

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DUETS – Performance Excerpts, 6-22-13

September 4th, 2013

DUETS took play on June 22, 2013 at The Fields in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The duos included:
yek koo + Zaimph
Tom Carter + Tom Surgal
Ashley Paul + Greg Kelley
and DJ/video unit: tren::azul

Hosted by EMM
Curated by Helga Fassonaki

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Bullets through Space

April 12th, 2013

BULLETS Through SPACE
An installation by helga fassonaki
April 9 – May 31, 2013
Window Box Gallery

lew_welch_poem_web


Window Box Gallery

436 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(map / directions)

info@rawmaterialsLA.com

 

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yek koo + Caitlin Mitchell – live @ Human Resources gallery 9-21-12

September 25th, 2012

Documentation (excerpt) of live performance collaboration between yek koo and Caitlin Mitchell. The actual performance was 15 minutes long and featured a radical symbiotic relationship between drum and guitar sounds as the drumming vibrations were picked up by the guitar and further layered and distorted, building up till the projected video showing white noise/light for 12 minutes suddenly became a fire with a burning photo of Mitt Romney.

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A Love Song for the Dead C – Exhibition Photos

June 4th, 2012

Touching Them, Touching Me – A Love Song for the Dead C
Helga Fassonaki – Solo Exhibition
March 24 to April 22, 2012 @ Human Resources Gallery, Los Angeles CA


Most photos taken by Lemuel Barbour, April 2012

To read the press release click HERE

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