In conjunction with Southern Exposure’s exhibition Where do you want ghosts to reside?, made up of artwork informed by forgotten Islamic myths, artists Morehshin Allahyari and Shirin Fahimi loose the bonds of the Mission District gallery to stage a one-night performance at CounterPulse. In Breaching Towards Other Futures, Allahyari and Fahimi channel a jinn from Middle Eastern mythology, Aisha Qandisha, known as the “opener,” and use Ilm al-raml (a form of geomancy, or divination with sand) to both tell the future and open doors to other futures—particularly ones not dominated by white, colonial or patriarchal concerns.
The performance is part of Allahyari’s ongoing project She Who Sees the Unknown, begun in 2016, which integrates research; storytelling; and 3D modeling, scanning and printing to revisit and honor monstrous female or queer figures of Middle Eastern origin. In this performance, she and Fahimi situate Aisha Qandisha in a new narrative, into “a new set of imagined possibilities of time and space.” The transformational possibilities extend to the audience; we may all emerge from the theater into a different future, one informed by our exposure to this work. –Sarah Hotchkiss