Saeed, you have trained as a dancer. Since 2016 you have been working on your own projects as artistic director and choreographer. What was the decisive point that moved you to create choreographies?
The choreography was always my refuge as a kid, which allowed me to change situations and images full of people, sounds and colours, and recreate them my way, the way that made me feel safe, hopeful, and strong. I always wanted to choreograph but my vision and thoughts about the moral, political, human body, or even social issues were not accepted and respected by the society in which I was raised. When I moved to Europe in 2016, I experienced freedom where artists have a loud voice without locks in their mouths. Here I felt safe, curious, and free like a bird that came out of its cage for the first time.
For your latest dance performance KHAOS, you are inspired by the Greek goddess of the same name. The impulse for other past projects also came from deities or quotations from writers from antiquity. How do you connect concepts and texts that originated long before our era with the present day?
History repeats itself all the time, just in different forms. For me, legends and myths are timeless and rich in details. Legends inspired many artists, philosophers, and psychologists throughout history. My last piece called The Blind Narcissist was inspired by the Greek myth of Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. How many narcissists have we met in our lives? Some of us even experienced a tribal relationship with one. Legends were told in a different era, that’s correct, but they still have a life here with us, it is our human history and condition. In your choreographies you use nudity as a form of representation.
Based on the understanding of nudity from antiquity as a link between both physical and moral values: how do you see people’s relationship to nudity in today’s society?
Unfortunately, our body is still sexualized in different ways depending on society’s several different concepts of “nudity”. People feel that nudity is inherently sexual because that’s often the only context they’ve experienced it. And it is often the only context their culture and religion find acceptance for it. Religion teaches us that the uncovered body is something shameful and the society taught us to be shocked by nudity. Sadly in the Middle East – where I was born – Asia or America, the naked body is a symbol of impurity and moral decadence. In my work I express emotions and feelings through the art of nudity that the audience can connect with, viewing the nakedness differently. My work is a rebellion against outdated customs and traditions, a look to a future full of tolerance and acceptance of the other, and a healthy relationship free of impurities with our body and our human nature.
In KHAOS you combine contemporary dance and physical theatre with visual art, especially sculptural art, and installation art. How can someone imagine that?
I use contemporary dance, physical theatre, and visual art as elements to create moving images on stage. This targets the audience’s imagination and touches their emotions and feelings, allowing them to relate and be part of the scene. With art installations, I create an atmosphere, a space, that allows me to build a relationship between the body and its surroundings presenting an even tighter view of the moving body, evoking a strong sense of claustrophobia in the viewer.
Interview: Pit Ewen, Mierscher Kulturhaus.