JE SUIS UNE SCULPTURE VIVANTE (I AM A LIVING SCULPTURE)
OMID HASHEMI (SEYED HABIB)
I am a living sculpture.
I stand, barefoot, on a block of ice (100 x 50 x 25 cm).
I stay there (immobile) as long as I feel pain.
The performance is over when I no longer feel pain.
The experience of performing in a society like Iran, if not unique, is special enough for me to remember all my life. This experience took place without authorization from the Iranian government in HaftHoz Square, September 6, 2012; it was not worth trying to obtain authorization since the government would clearly not give it. I made arrangements to meet with four friends at 3:30 p.m. in a street just next to the square. We tried to find a path for the block of ice (which weighed more than 150 kilograms) onto the square, without attracting too much attention before starting the performance. In a country where the slightest public gathering is forbidden, assembling people around an action is in itself a socio-political act, an act of subversion.
The reactions of spectators were varied. Contrary to what one might have expected, people really listened (not everyone, obviously) and generally, people tried to keep quiet and make sense of what they were seeing; to try to discuss this “thing” in the middle of their daily path, without remaining indifferent to it.
After the performance, some people came to speak to me and to see if I was all right. But many people went directly to look at the ice. There were people who tried to see how long they could last, or even overcome the pain. If the individual body manages to surpass these mental and physical limits, the social body (composed of the individual bodies), can surpass these limits as well.
[Description translated by Luke Arnason]