Intersections: The Joint Work
An inter-faith artistic collaboration involving three women artists - Irene Barberis, Parastou Forouhar and Jane Logeman - each from a different faith, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
NARRATOR: "Intersections" featured Irene Barberis, Parastou Forouhar, and Jane Logeman, showcasing selected works from each artist, as well as a work they created together. The process of creation of this joint work is explained by the artists themselves an artistic conversation across continents and cultures, a unique textile piece that records this monumental triumph of trust.
-I began the process of the cloth. I was in Paris, having a show at the time. I made a very fine circle in pencil, and then my first contribution was a very fine, striated triangle. I then took it to Frankfurt to give to Parastou.
-So I looked at it for a while, a couple of days. It was there, and then I started to write, to work on it. And it became more and more, and after some days, I felt maybe I have to stop before I fill everywhere and send it away.
-It was interesting. I stuck to the circle, so I did the first circle next to the triangle. I didn't want to touch anyone, and I put the word, "light," in Hebrew. Because I was trying to think where is this going to travel, in terms of concept. I took a very light blue, and I divided the color. And then I sent it out to Irene.
-I opened it in my studio, which at that point, was very pink, and I had this lovely, long, white cloth. And I remember thinking about it as a conversation. And I looked at Parastou's text that was gently traveling everywhere and Jane's circle. And I was wondering how I could begin to move into the dialogue with being careful. I did another triangle that was bigger, that was a little bit brighter.
I really lay the foundation still, because I still wasn't ready to interact, apart from this visual aesthetic that we all had at that point. And then I sent it off to Parastou. I have been thinking of what could I do to somehow bring it in a dialogue, as I understand. That is, I think, the whole process of this work was somehow, to find out what do you mean, a dialogue?
I just wanted to bring the whole area of this cloth within my work. So I just put small signs of my own writing in different parts, just to signalize, I'm also here. I'm also there.
-I was a little bit unsatisfied with the process, with myself. I couldn't get the answers that I wanted to have. It was not a harmony, but it was a coexistence, just beside each other and not with each other.
INTERVIEWER: That's good. I agree.
-So I placed another circle, which is earth water. I was interested in thinking words that had to do with people unconsciously sharing on the earth. We don't think that we're sharing with other countries when we're at the sea, or even on earth, we don't. The shadows put us together. The wind puts us together. It's rather contemplative. But I was concerned about the fabric traveling at that point.
So I was nervous, because 9/11 created a lot of fear. Everything was being investigated. And I was concerned that the fabric would get lost.
-So as I looked at Parastou's signaling of her position. And then I was looking at Jane's continuing of the original thought, I began to think I either could travel through the cloth as Parastou, or I could be contained. So I moved into a deeper thinking about the idea contained within my triangles, which were all very fuzzy on the edges. They didn't have the clear edge. They melted at the edges.
So I took up some text from the Song of Songs, which is about the love between a man and a woman, and that is often likened to a love between humankind and god. So I thought at this point, still, I couldn't change into my fluros. I couldn't actually reveal my physicality, really. I still felt quite comfortable being not invisible, but nearly invisible. And I felt that also, because of the inception of the cloth started with me.
So then I sent it to Parastou, and I was aware that the physicality was changing, especially with Parastou's work. So I was interested, but I had no idea what the next process would be.
-I started to just look at this cloth for a long period before starting to work. And after a while, I thought that the only way that I have is to be very honest with this process. I started to early act, somehow emotionally, but also, changing the whole aesthetic of the work, becoming a little bit aggressive, a little bit on point, coming very near to the areas of you both, and also, putting marks that didn't match really to the aesthetic you used to have as another, as changing the whole term of--
INTERVIEWER: Yes, dialogue?
PARASTOU FOROUHAR: Dialogue. And I thought, truly, it is a very provocative manner. I could bring you both to another way of dealing with it.
-I would stick to my original concept, because I couldn't really understand what was going on at that point. And I thought it was about time to wrap up. I finished with the circle, sun, and tree. I ended with tree, because I wanted to pull it together as a branching out, a sharing. I concluded without color, without colored wash. And I rolled it out, put it in a FedEx box, and sent it off to Irene.
-It was no longer a fragile cloth. It was an arena of gesture, and physicality, and--
-There was an element of chaos in it, the unknowns, physically. I didn't know how to feel to start off with. But as I looked at it, I realised that I was drawn to the point where I wanted to have a physical conversation. I didn't quite know how to do it, because there was a lot of black ink in the middle of the cloth, and with some red text in front of it. So the first thing I thought of was that I'd like to remove the black. I'd like to be able to just see the red.
So I began to paint the black white, and I began to change the lettering. And at that point, I realised I'd changed the nature of the text. I freaked out and thought I'd done something wrong, so I cut it out, the whole section, and decided I'd wash it. So I washed it. I remember scrubbing it and thinking, this is ridiculous. And then I was thinking of world politics, and the great mess of people trying to claim things.
And then I went back, and I stitched it. And I thought, no. So I cut it out, and I recut it. And at that point, my father was dying, and I was thinking of death. And so I began to sew what was in my heart at that point, which was death, where is your sting? And that is what I was thinking of, and that's how I finished the cloth.