In my Neither Here, Nor There solo show, I explored the notion of simultaneity in relation to hybrid identity, overlaid places and translocation. My aim was to visualize the process of changing and shifting in layers of one’s identity because of migration and displacement, particularly, when a person is in the midst of severe identity construction, being neither of the things and both at the same time (Daskalaki et al., 2015). I wanted to represent this notion of living in-between identities, a state which leads one to experience the feelings of ambiguity and uncertainty by inhabiting utterly different cultures at the same time. There are many versions of me occupying inside me in unique layers of a shattered identity. They are overlaid and transparent. Different layers are added to my identity constantly, and these layers inherit a significant part of their existence from the places I reside. Neither Here, Nor There was the result of questioning these facets of my identity that are existing altogether. I found that by being in a place, I gain new dimensions of identity, but this does not mean I erase or abolish my past self. On the contrary, I have the opportunity to explore my possibilities and accumulate different facets of identity constantly. In the exhibition, I revealed that I am becoming the spaces between selves. My analogy has roots in the concept of being divided between inside and out, public and private, and you and me. In this body of work, one more time, I realized I was continuously going back and forth between places and moments, and this gave me the feeling of being suspended between two utterly different worlds. The simultaneity I was feeling before going back home was mostly engaged with places, moments, and memories which I encountered every day. The prints are two overlaid self-portraits of me in two different expressions, and in two different colours. One self-portrait represents a veiled woman, in black and white, and the other one depicts an unveiled woman with her playful braids in red. The overlaid images of these two styles reflect the different layers of my identity, as if two completely different personalities are living in one body. This puts forward the notion of discovering distinct facets of identity during immigration or other major changes that happen in one’s life. My attempt was to depict these layers concurrently so as to stress their contradictions and similarities, and to represent how these layers challenge one’s identity by their very existence. By making different imagery and examining distinct compositions that I could create out of the repetition of only two plates, I attempted to study various “hybrid identities” which are shifting and shaping constantly inside of me because of the place I am living in and my travels. My endeavour is to show that one’s being can consist of complex dimensions of character, none of which are thoroughly erasable. I am the same person, adjusting myself to the environment—or perhaps the environment is giving me the chance to be two different people.
Location: Gallery 621, Department of Art, University of Calgary
Photo credit: Marzieh Mosavarzadeh