Nazanin Hedayat Munroe
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My work has always drawn from my Persian heritage, but with the intent of posing questions and expressing emotions that transcend culture. In “100 Destinies” I am drawing from the ancient tradition of divination through poetry [biblophancy] using the works of 14th century Hafez. His collection of over 1000 mystical poems has been compiled into several different collections, used by seekers Persian society to obtain answers and advice when perplexed or in need of guidance. After whispering a prayer for the poet and opening to a random page, the diviner receives an answer to the question on which they are focused. Hafez’s poems are coded in Sufi metaphors, such as the Winehouse and the Winebringer (Saqi), the Friend and the Beloved, which represent seeking and finding union and enlightenment.
Fascinated with the concept of destiny and the potential reasons that steer a person’s life one way or another, I have explored divination rituals in my work for many years. In preparing for this installation I consulted Hafez on a daily basis for 100 days, and displayed the poems as a constellation on the wall behind the figure. Representing my relationship to a homeland where I never lived but whose cultural practices are a part of my daily life, the figure is cloaked in a garment patterned with the phrase “destiny” (sar-nevesht) in Farsi. The use of gray scale is inspired by the dilution of culture and language that happens with time and distance; and yet, bloodlines tether me to the ancient practice. Destinies that have yet to unfold are attached to the garment in the front in English.
The viewer is invited to ask and answer their questions by leaving an anonymous question and taking a poem at random. The poetry is provided in the original Farsi with English translations and interpretation.
M.A. - Department of Art and Art History, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, 2007
M.F.A. - Department of Fiber, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, 1996
B.F.A. (Magna Cum Laude) – Fiber Art & Textile Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, 1994