A conversation with Shirin Neshat and Wafaa Bilal, on the making of OverRuled and A Call.

Moderated by Nicholas Mirzoeff.

Sunday, November 20th, 2011, 3pm

Co-curated by Ava Ansari and Molly Kleiman
Organized in collaboration with Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts, Tehran; Aaran Gallery, Tehran; and White Box, New York

In conjunction with Performa, Wafaa Bilal and Shirin Neshat will discuss their most recent works—A Call and OverRuled. These two performances engage and question the act of bearing witness. Their audiences, too, are left culpable, participants in show trials and ephemeral memorials. Bilal and Neshat’s discussion will be moderated by Nicholas Mirzoeff, author of The Right to Look: A Counter History of Visuality (2011) and professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. The event will be hosted by White Box, NYC, and Sazmanab Project, Tehran, and broadcast live online at, via Ustream.

About A Call
With eighty-seven Iranian performers, an empty swimming pool, and five cameras, Wafaa Bilal developed A Call as a memorial to the dead, the living, and the forgotten of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). As the Iranian government denied Bilal an artist’s visa, he attended the September 23rd, 2011, premiere at Aaran Gallery in Tehran remotely, from a parallel opening at White Box in New York City. A video of the Tehran installation and its visitors streamed live on White Box’s walls.
The mediated performance enacted the dislocations, delays, and ruptures that war breeds. View the performance online HERE

The performance was made in collaboration with curators of the Back Room, Ava Ansari and Molly Kleiman; curator and director of Aaran Gallery, Nazila Noebashari; performance director Hamid Pourazari; Photographers Aliyar Rasti and Sasan Abri; cinematographer Amir Mousavi; technical director Sohrab Kashani; choreographer Sara Reyhani; and lighting designer Rodin Hamidi; and many other performers and contributors.

About OverRuled
OverRuled premiered at this years’s Performa Biennial, on Friday, November 11, 2011. It begins with an address by judge in an Iranian court: “You are called here today to witness….” The audience is flanked by soldiers and facing a stage overflowing with legal archives and dutiful clerks. When four individuals called under one name, Siavash, take the stand accused of heresy, “the audience, imagination, and life, are on trial. The theocratic law seeks vengeance, while engulfed in absurdity of its own making, relying on the ensemble of military men who are vessels of its might.”

The performance was made in collaboration with writers Shoja Azari and Behrang Azari; musician and vocalist Mohsen Namjoo; actor Mohammed B.Ghaffary; actor and satirist Kambiz Hosseini; singer Shadi Yousefian; actor Lanna Joffery; set designer and artist Shahram Karimi; and many other performers and contributors.

About The Back Room
The Back Room is a pedagogical and curatorial project, developed in collaboration with artists, curators, and writers in Iran and the United States. We organize workshops, public programs, and exhibitions between the two countries. The Back Room is co-directed by Ava Ansari and Molly Kleiman.