Category Archives: Talks and Events

Masterclass with Mania Akbari at BFI Future Film Festival

16th February 2017 

Relation ship between woman body and my works,

-First documentary Crystal :
In my first documentary “Crystal”. I have consciously got attracted to the story of a Kurd girl, which is producing crystals in her body, from her vagina , eyes, through, her palm and breasts. It’s true that this is a medical issue but I thought this could symbolise an internal beauty that has the tendency to externalise itself. It has been very metaphoric for me about women in geographical On borders of Iran.
-20fingers :
In my film called 20 fingers the talking statues are using closed spaces and various simple moving devices to fight with simple concepts which are basic human struggles.Here the limitations imposed by space and body movements created a new figure. It’s like that their hands and feet are tied but they want to move and improve or go further. It’s like they are inviting themselves to an internal fight or challenge.
– 10+4 :
The film 10+4 is portraying the deformation and sufferings of a body from loosing a feminine part. The female character appears in front of the camera in a masculine way and challenges the gender borders. It portrays the contrast of death and life. The body is posing new questions when it’s having a death like experience.
– 30 min to 6:
In the Documentary called 30 mins to six, people with figures and covered bodies try to express their views about the execution of “Behnam Shojaee”. He has murdered his friend in a fight at the age of fourteen. In this film I try to explore the issue of aggression and fights between bodies in cinema. How cinema can influence society and generate thinking or create the sense of aggression or revenge.
– One-Two-One
the physical deformation of a woman has created beauty and defect simultaneously. A concept that beholds decay and construction in the same time.The statues that are talking regardless of all the atmospheric limitations. They are trying to tell their nonsense stories. There is a deep relationship between the body deformation or destruction and the female beauty. And the effort to reach a new static regarding survival .
– From Tehran to London,
There is a child that is dismembered. the relationship between the body and space in that geographical border takes him to the borders of madness and self- destructiveness. That geography of the film changes with that dis-memberdness and the unfinished film.
-In my country men have a breast
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and eventually lost my breasts, it was during President Khatami’s when women were slowly getting back on their feet and the talk of gender equality had gained a new momentum. There were new women on the scene, strong and intellectual.But when women seemed more optimistic than before, my illness took me back to the darker days of war. In a sense, I never recovered from the war and the loss. As if the nourishment of my body had stopped in that time or couldn’t continue without the sound of war, chanting, and mourning.I started documenting my body, trying to know her better. But then Ahmadinejad was elected and the space for women again became tight and airless. I was in London when I realized I couldn’t go back to Iran. The hardline media had started a campaign against e and my artworks by calling me a lesbian who is HIV positive, as if the two are the same thing. Again and again, for rejecting a woman and her world, they had used gender and sexuality, and blocking my way back home with the argument that I was slipped from Islamic tradition regarding how a woman should be, act, and live. Reading this text reminded me of Judith Butler’s idea of sexuality as a frame which is defined by each society differently by attributing different roles to its men. When outside Iran, I put together these photographs and films, to be accompanied by the voice of Ahangaran, a religious singer, singing summons and revolutionary songs about martyrdom. And named it IN MY COUNTRY MEN HAVE BREASTS. I was looking for an unsettling effect, to create confusion in my audience regarding gender stereotypes.For me, leaving my geographical borders didn’t result in mental relief. There is an urge in my psyche to save the past . even through the memories are the reason for human sufferings, but it feels like by remembering and preserving those memories , your body and soul feels less that it’s been lost. Therefor in the video art called in “ In my country men have breast” the memories have attacked me in various cruel ways.
-Life may be
In the Film” Mark” I have explored the history of religion, society, history in my country through my body. In fact it’s my body that is writing letter to mark. They are the memories that have been carried by my body. However the pain and sufferings of soul and body of human is not limited to a country or geographical border but it’s a universal subject. And finally I found deep internal relationship with octopus and the way that the squid ink creates a beautiful graphic. It brought me with the realizatdion of how art can create beauty and power out of a horrifying deathlike thing.
My body has served as a metaphor. My body is my canvas.

https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/futurefilmfestival/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=masterclassmaniaakbari&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::context_id=

Douglas White and Mania Akbari talk about new project at SLADE School of Fine Art part of the the UCL university

8th December 2016

“A Moon for my Father” is a collaboration between Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari and British sculptor Douglas White. It is a meeting of artists and languages, of cinema and sculpture. It is a portrait of artistic process, a looking beneath the surface at the things we create and the things that create us.

Talk at Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford University

27th November 2016

Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University with Douglas White on Thursday 24th Nov to talk about our new project as part of the Visiting Speaker Series.”Since meeting in 2014 White and Akbari have been working on a collaborative project entitled ‘A Moon for my Father’. The project is
structured as an exchange of film letters, focussing on objects and
memory and the points at which they intersect. It is a meeting of artists and languages, of cinema and sculpture. It is a portrait of artistic process, a looking beneath the surface at the things we create and the things that create us.”

‘A Body’s Memory’ Talk artist Mania Akbari at Ashkal Alwan- Beirut

JUNE 23d 2016

Memory is not the preserve of words and images. There is a physicality to memory. We feel it in objects and it is written into our bodies. This is too easily seen as damage, when it is in fact the telling of a story. For the last two years, Mania Akbari has been looking at the triangular relationship between body, object and memory – the secrets that each may hold about the other, and how these might be unlocked. How might a landscape of memory suddenly appear, uninvited, in an object? And how might the object transformed tell the story of a body?

https://www.beirut.com/l/47710

Poeticising the everyday – Seminar with Mania Akbari at Ashkal Alwan- Beirut

20 June 2016

“Everything Else is Ordinary” is a line that caps almost every entry in a found diary kept by an industrial worker in Delhi. Raqs Media Collective weave this thought into Strikes at Time, their video exegesis on the reclaiming of lost time from the working day. In their workshop, Raqs will coax the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘extraordinary’ to play with each other by mobilizing readings of art works, film, literary texts, philosophical and scientific works, diverse cultural materials and investigative procedures in order to unravel how the mundane and the miraculous differ from, shadow and mimic each other. In doing this, they hope to offer new and exciting ways of relating art practices, thought, emotion, life and curiosity.

With guest speakers Mania Akbari, Salima Hashmi, Yasmina Jraissati, Sami Khatib, and Cuauhtémoc Medina.

http://ashkalalwan.org/events/everything-else-is-ordinary-on-the-mimetic-and-discordant-relations-between-the-miraculous-and-the-mundane/

Talk at Cambridge University

25 April 2016

One could guess there was a time in the history, when men and women had no idea about the meaning of equality or inequality, in gender or beyond. That must have been a better times.
 In the history of civilization, when gender inequality was sensed, felt and recognized by some people, the groups, fronts and movements began to take hold. They tried to go back to the point when thing went wrong, and upon the wrong notions written or unwritten laws were imposed. The Movement wanted to re-think, and if possible, re-write those laws regarding gender inequality.
 In the history of ancient Iran, one single period in which women gained almost equal rights in participating in socio-political activities of their time was during the Achaemenid Empire. The artefacts remained from this period prove such argument.
 One example, among many others, is a petroglyph in Persepolis, depicting a woman riding a chariot, standing in a position above the wheel, hence being represented as the wheel of life.
 If, in a historical context, that was one of the heights of a society progressively acknowledging the role of the women, the lowest could be in the Iran of the 80s, after the Revolution and the start of the war with Iraq. During this time, women’s activities for gaining the rights entered a hiatus. That slowing down of the movement, due to the pressure from the regime, was justified by the need for unity during a bloody war. There was no time for “petty matters” and the nation’s future was at stake.
 It happened that I became aware of my body and her changes during the same years as the war was on, when foreign or pop music was banned, there was no Internet or virtual world to escape to or a Facebook to seek a temporary refuge in. The soundtrack of my life was the traditional shiia mourning songs (no-heh) and revolutionary songs played around clock on radio and TV. These propaganda sounds were meant to make the youth emotional and boost their sense of Islamic nationalism. In another word, to prepare them for the war and encourage them to go to front and be ready for martyrdom. In this atmosphere, the meaning of sexuality, wrapped in concepts of Islamic modesty, were taught to us in the classroom and in the society.My body, as it was growing and taking shape, was filled with memories of the war, chanting and the vision of dead bodies of the martyrs. A surrealist space, filled with darkness, which brought fear and terror.The changes in my hormones and body form was intertwined with bodies of the martyrs whose pictures were hanged from the walls, accompanied with a soundtrack of war, loss of family and friends and the nightly bombings of Tehran.When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and eventually lost my breasts, it was during President Khatami’s when women were slowly getting back on their feet and the talk of gender equality had gained a new momentum. There were new women on the scene, strong and intellectual.But when women seemed more optimistic than before, my illness took me back to the darker days of war. In a sense, I never recovered from the war and the loss. As if the nourishment of my body had stopped in that time or couldn’t continue without the sound of war, chanting, and mourning. I started documenting my body, trying to know her better. But then Ahmadinejad was elected and the space for women again became tight and airless. I was in London when I realized I couldn’t go back to Iran. The hardline media had started a campaign against e and my artworks by calling me a lesbian who is HIV positive, as if the two are the same thing. Again and again, for rejecting a woman and her world, they had used gender and sexuality, and blocking my way back home with the argument that I was slipped from Islamic tradition regarding how a woman should be, act, and live. Reading this text reminded me of Judith Butler’s  idea of sexuality as a frame which is defined by each society differently by attributing different roles to its men When outside Iran, I put together these photographs and films, to be accompanied by the voice of Ahangaran, a religious singer, singing summons and revolutionary songs about martyrdom. And named it IN MY COUNTRY MEN HAVE BREASTS. I was looking for an unsettling effect, to create confusion in my audience regarding gender stereotypes. My body has served as a metaphor. The issues I’ve faced because of my body, in that particular geographical place I was born in, were mainly because there was THE definition of the body given by the religion. That contradicted my personal feelings and they way I understood my own body. That definition had nothing to do with the realities of my body, of a human being. And then came a time when women who had religious thoughts, tried to achieve a feminist reading of Islam, believing that the religion has given equal rights to men and women. These Islamic feminists have proved to be effective to a certain extent – they have even entered the parliament. But However, I’m not sure if the gender equality can be proven or achieved through religion, not only in Iran but anywhere in this world.
 

Political Animals: 21st Century Feminist Cinema At Whitechapel Gallery

5th March 2016

Marking International Women’s Day, and launching her major new study, writer and activist Sophie Mayer curates a global survey of feminist film-makers who link personal and political revolution, with screenings, readings, discussion and special guests.

Inspired by philosopher and activist Judith Butler’s work on bodies in alliance, bodies in public, and bodies that differ, Sophie Mayer’s new book Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema proposes a fresh framework for thinking through gender, sexuality and embodiment on screen.

Focusing on a transnational, politicised cinema that addresses questions of biopolitics, ecology and revolution within a feminist perspective, Political Animals offers a way to re-view and re-vision both established auteurs such as Lucrecia Martel and Mania Akbari, and to encounter emerging and artist film-makers who share preoccupations and political passions.

Political Animals: 21st Century Feminist Cinema

The symposium by the artist academics and architects who are involved in EVOLUTION

23d of April 2015

A multi-disciplinary exhibition showcasing key aspects of Iranian art, architecture and culture across different time periods that could inspire and influence architects across the globe has opened at Asia House. Evolution, which is free to the public, is on display in the Asia House Gallery until 30 April as a part of the British Council Iran’s UK-Iran Season of Culture. The aim of Evolution is to raise awareness of the role that vernacular Iranian architecture could play in the design of contemporary buildings today. Mania Akbari, Douglas White, Dr. Babaie and Amin Sadeghy will be speakingMehran Ghrleghi will be chairing the event and Khosorow Hassanzadeh will answer any question you my have.

Iranian buildings – an inspiration for modern-day architects?

Global Thinkers Forum Roundtable: 
“Gender equality priorities in the MENA region “


October 16th, 2014

Internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, actress, artist and writer Mania Akbari 
Egyptian journalist, Shahira Amin, former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and Souad Talsi MBE founder of Al-Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre UK


A Global Thinkers Forum Roundtable dialogue that will discuss crucial gender equality priorities in the MENA region. The conversation will highlight priorities for implementation and a call for action to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the region. Furthermore: human stories as shared by the women who know the region the most! Social, political, security, health challenges:
how do they deal with them? How have these exceptional  survived against the odds? Meet them on October 16, 2014!

body and soul want to raise awareness in people and human beings. I see the action of a beautiful young Kurdish woman toady, who by attaching a hand grenade to herself and committing suicide with a gun, is fighting to stop the IS from capturing her. This is a pained female voice. I know that by sacrificing her life, she wants to raise awareness in the world, wanting to raise questions in the minds of people and generations, like the very strange action of the first person in the Arab world who by burning her body succeeded in creating a shock wave that hundreds of weapons could not stop its waves and movements

For me, each conscious human being is a tortured being who has an act to play in this world, and her very incentive is to survive in order to grow and create thoughts. Geographical limits are meaningless today. It is as if we are all citizens of a virtual country and in a strange way influence each other. We are tired human beings, the outcome of wars, violence, and dictatorships springing from religions, beliefs, traditions and lust for power. My feeling is that the soul of the world and the soul of the people are worn out. We are in need of another voice not rising from violence, dictatorships and hunger for power. An innocent and loving soul, which might have the power to shape the world into love seeking poetics that might feel safe in this innocent soul.

Women in MENA