Multi-faceted artist Saba Alizadeh has created a piece that combines his unique visual aesthetic with sound and theater, and the result is a stunning, politically charged work with heart-wrenching subtlety.
I am a half-Arab who looks American. Saba is an Iranian who looks Arab. And in this experience, I am struck by the powerful marriage of visuals and experimental sound to arrive at the piece’s central theme. He sits in full protective gear, complete with surgical mask and safety goggles, and gets to work. As the piece progresses, the lights turn off and a wonderful dance of light and sound commences. We watched him build the thing ourselves, but still the context is inescapable. He hugs a lamp to his chest, using light sensors in his circuit to tune it to the drone, and makes it sing.
Don’t think here about modes, harmony, pitch, or meter. Do think about structure. Think about an Iranian holding a bright light to his heart, and what it means when we realize that the context of that performance, simply because he is an Iranian on U.S. soil, is… different. And art exists to point out differences in a way that makes them not.
The piece ends with darkness and the familiar Morse code plea for help. Some people might hear a bunch of squeaks and bleeps and might even scoff at calling this music. But, as for this reviewer, I nearly cried.
Saba will be performing at Seyhoun Gallery in West Hollywood on Wednesday, October 30th at 8 p.m.