My friend, the curator Negin Sharifzadeh, asked me to specifically highlight Negar Behbahani’s work Lifestrand, deemed to be a crowning aspect of her exhibition Are We Already Gone?. The showcase was on view from September 21-October 1 on Crosby Street, and specifically highlighted the performance of Lifestrand. Let me tell you more about it.
Negar Behbahani recently graduated from NYU’s Tisch ITP program, and Lifestrand was her thesis project. In the performance, she uses a violin bow to string a long mane of hair. The mane is connected to an upside-down face projection, and spaced using a Persian rug. The viewer is at once invited by the cozy rug layout and withdrawn by the fantastical elements.
Behbahani and I had a chance to talk (she is lovely) and she told me that the piece is rooted in specific personal experiences she’s had, and pressures she’s worked through. She played the violin in childhood, and always envied long hair. The fact that the hair is gray is symbolic of her own gray streak, which she’s had since the age of 15. Ridiculed as a young girl in Tehran, the performance gave her a chance to work through the childhood memories.
The hair in the art installation was sourced from India, so it never exactly belonged to anyone she knew, but the artist retained a personal tie to the concept of the long and luscious strands. Perhaps the title, Lifestrand, relates to this metaphor–strands of hair as the strands of life.
I hesitated to feature this in the full review of Are We Already Gone specifically because it is such an individualized process. The fact that it was such a highlight set it apart from the rest of the curation. However, upon reflection, Lifestrand negates isolated and meaningful reflection.