Liverpool Biennial 2023 will feature Sepideh Rahaa‘s work ‘Songs to Earth, Songs to Seeds’ (2022), which portrays the often invisible and inaccessible process of rice cultivation in the paddy lands of Mazandaran, Northern Iran. The almost year-long process is an intergenerational tradition, with knowledge passed down for nearly a century through the artist’s family.
Rahaa centres the role of women’s labour, presenting the traditional songs sung by Iranian women during the cultivation and harvest seasons. These songs are passed down between generations of women and contain stories of their daily struggles in Mazani (an indigenous language from Northern Iran). The work invites us to consider the complexity and invisibility of rice cultivation in a contemporary, global context. The crop is both a container for indigenous forms of knowledge and, as a global food staple, is enmeshed within cycles of consumption, neo-colonial food politics and environmental injustice.
Sepideh Rahaa is a Helsinki-based multidisciplinary artist, researcher and educator. Her work explores and questions power structures, social norms and conventions, focusing on womanhood, storytelling and everyday resistances.
She is interested in histories, decolonisation, feminist politics and post-migration matters. Rahaa’s artistic practice is a mix of different disciplines including film and video installation, performance art, painting, poetry and photography. Currently she is doing her PhD in Contemporary Art at Aalto University, Helsinki.
Rahaa’s work has been exhibited and screened in Europe, East Asia and Southwest Asia. For example she exhibited at Rauma Art Museum for the Rauma Triennale 2022, Artsi Art Museum 2021, and Pori Art Museum 2019. Rahaa is an active member and co-founder of Third Space collective in Helsinki (2015-) and holds a BA in Painting and Visual Arts, an MA in Art and Research from Shahed University of Tehran, and a second MA in Fine Arts at Aalto University.
Her work has been supported by Finnish Cultural Foundation (Suomen Kulttuurirahasto), Taike (Arts Promotion Center Finland), Frame Contemporary Art Finland, AVEK (The Finnish Promotion Center for Audiovisual Culture), Nylands Svenska Kulturfonds and Visek Kuvasto (copyright society for visual artists).
Liverpool Biennial from 10 June to 17 September. Sepideh Rahaa’s work ‘Songs to Earth, Songs to Seeds’ shown at Cotton Exchange (Edmund St, Liverpool L3 9TT), Wed-Sun from 10am to 6pm. Please find more info on Liverpool Biennial’s website.
Photo: Sepideh Rahaa, Songs to Earth, Songs to Seeds, 2022, Rice cultivation process, Courtesy of artist.