Steven Appleby, Halla Einarsdóttir & Afrang Nordlöf Malekian
Organised by Pascale de Graff
BELLY TALK brings together Steven Appleby (UK, b. 1956), Halla Einarsdóttir (Iceland, b. 1991) and Afrang Nordlöf Malekian (Sweden/Iran, b.1995).
‘Belly Talk’ stems from the practice of ventriloquism: a method of throwing one’s voice by expanding the diaphragm and speaking via another, most commonly a puppet, without moving one’s lips. Einarsdóttir performs Borborygmus in which she speaks through crochet panels which otherwise act as room dividers. By throwing her voice, she summons characters and methods of ventriloquism to fabricate a fragmented history of re-voicing. Einarsdóttir predominantly speaks through Miss Krarer, an imposter-lecturer famous during the turn of the 20th century.
Appleby shares Mutants, early works which recall the head-in-hole boards from British seaside destinations. These interactive alter-egos allow one to escape their body by substituting it with another. For him, these faceless figures are “personal pieces from back when I saw myself as a freak and had climbed into the closet and very firmly shut the closet door behind me”. Alongside Mutants are self-portraits which celebrate the happiness he now feels within his body. In the looped film Walking Around My Block, Appleby walks the streets surrounding his studio at night in latex lingerie, colliding with his neighbour in a joyful exchange.
Nordlöf Malekian presents work on how the repression of Iranian music since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 has become a signifier of secret collectivity and freedom. Listening to Images is a collection of album covers of vinyls released before music was banned by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini shortly after the revolution, equating it to opium. As a consequence, many artists relocated to Los Angeles to pursue their artistry, activating the dāmbuli dimbol a genre of joy and dance. Through illegal sound distribution, this Los Angeles-produced music was sold in secret music stores and streamed on Persian Music Channel, illicitly resurfacing in the domestic sphere as mainstream culture in Iran. The performance Keeping Up with the Iranians departs from this history of music, reconstructing a mehmooni (a social gathering in the home) starring Afrang Nordlöf Malekian, Mia Herman, Sepideh Khodarahmi and Jafar The Superstar.