Saturday, 1 August 2009

Dinner With Svetlana

These Plates together make one work, 'Dinner with Svetlana,' which is my response to a situation I so often encountered when I was in Iran. (See post below for more on this.)

This is what I wrote in the catalogue for the planned exhibition:

Svetlana is another version of me. She is the Russian woman I am often thought to be when I stay in hotels on my own in Tehran and Shiraz. ‘Ruusiii?’ (Are you Russian?), asks the man before me, adjusting his shades and leather jacket, ‘Tanhaayi?’ (Are you alone?) I couldn’t escape her. I didn’t want Russian women to become my enemy so I decided to accept her. I gave her a name, Svetlana, which French people translate to Claire or Clare (English), which is my surname. It means ‘light’ as in ‘claire de la lune,’ moonlight, 'mahtaab,' - a Persian name meaning moonlight. I grew to like her. She was bolder than me, much less anxious in many situations. She plucked her eyebrows, wore nice clothes and argued with people.

At that time, a great many Russian women were being trafficked to Iran to supply the sex industry which was booming particularly in the Gulf area, in Tehran and in Shiraz - and from which, I assume, the revolutionary guard have become immensely rich.