Amitis Motevalli – “I Speak of Shards and Pebbles”

On Sunday, April 13th, 2014, Manresa Gallery hosted the first in a series of performances curated by Taraneh Hemami for her installation Reverberations of Stone. Los Angeles-based Iranian artist Amitis Motevalli performed “I Speak of Shards and Pebbles” giving voice and story to victims of police brutality.

Reverberations of Stone
Reverberations of Stone is a depiction of a Mehrab, which is a devotional niche marking the direction of prayer in a Mosque. The installation is an experiment that collapses spaces and overlapping systems of belief, creating a temporary coexistence. The inside of the alcove serves as a reorientation of perspective.

Amitis Motevalli – “I Speak of Shards and Pebbles”

Recreating the soundscape of a mehrab, Motevalli fills the installation with a cacophonous chorus of religious folk songs depicting oppression, war and martyrdom. Engaging with the invocation of an Islamic space, Motevalli overlays rituals from multiple religions and traditions with the aim of offering consolation and bringing solace to the mourning families.

Motevalli’s family history involves preserving a public Islamic shrine and monument- this public monument like so many, is a place for the public to come together and to share cultural happenings and rituals. Responding to the religious space of St Ignatius as a place to show and share compassion for humanity, Motevalli will focus on a recurring theme in her work of state violence – police brutality and violence toward civilians.

“I Speak of Shards and Pebbles” uses documented accounts of recent incidents of officer involved shootings in and around San Francisco. The artist investigates how victims become dehumanized in their media portrayal. In the tradition of Iranian folklore, Motevalli finds stories by community members and the deceased’s family to create a more human depiction so the state driven narrative is not the only one accessible.