A Requiem for Libricide

A requiem for libricide is a multimedia event held last year in Niavaran culturalcenter in Iran. This event benefits from different mediums like theater, performance art, video installation, live music and audio installation. As it is obvious by the name it is a piece about lost knowledge. The knowledge that mankind lost during history due to so many arsons in the libraries. The books -our knowledge, our history- have been burned and so, many names and many things have been erased like they have never existed. The language and words play a certain role in this piece. The language used in a requiem for libricide does not belong to a certain period of time, it changes and evolves. At the first part of the event a man in a black robe meets the audience; he is quite as if he is performing a ritual; sometimes he whispers in the ears of some audience; as if he reveals a secret: you will be burned; you will be vanished from the face of the earth with a blink of an eye…Then he leads audience to another floor. Everything is dark and the only light we see is coming from candles. In the first floor which is actually beneath the entrance room; the video-installation is being played. A man and a woman are narrating a story of a library in an archaic language. The man is standing in a TV set at the left and the woman at the right while a third video is being played at the center representing some images of a vast sea and different cities and a man -a walker- in black who passes all those castles and realms and seas and even times. When the video stops the first performer in the black robe appears again; this time he speaks loudly. He quotes some parts of the video as if he is a fortune teller and telling the audience their inevitable destiny. Then he leads them to another floor; where the live part begins. This floor is above the entrance hall. Here the first performer (named as no.0) disappears for a minute and then comes back in a different role. He plays a spring drum and sings some parts of Gatha (which is the holly poems of Avesta, in Zoroastrian language). There is a table at the center of the room and there are four performers wearing black outfits that belong to no specific period of time but remind of customs of circles of brotherhood; sitting at the tables, heads down, eyes closed and not moving until no.0 finishes singing. After no.0 left they start to move and search in the heals of papers on the table. With a sound of the strike of a singing bow by one of the performers; they all bring out their matches and light the candles in front of them. Every time the performer no.4 makes a sound out of the singing bow the performers light up or put out the candle’s fire periodically. And each time the darkness realms before their next act. Their movements and language evolves slowly. There are two women (no.1 and no.2) and two men (no.3 and no.4) at the table. It seems as though the women and the men can not see each other. The women are only capable of sensing each other and so are the men. Like they are present at a same place in different diversions of time. Some times they can sense the presence of each other like an echo of a distant time but can not completely comprehend what is going on. The two women are like one soul divided in two corpses and they are not earthly. They are like sisters of the fate; they write and read and then burn what they wrote. Sometimes they do believe in themselves and sometimes they doubt; their characters changes little by little; like they are fallen angles who can slowly feel what it is like to be human. The men but are like lost souls. They only read the papers and each time they turn into what they read. They become blind, become lovers, become light and become darkness, they speak in different languages, some that do not even exist; they are like mankind during history; but slowly they take control of the fate; they gain the quality to rule the fate; they anonymously control the women characters. And the third part of the event is live music; as if music is the only form of art that could survive that dark realm of oblivion.

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As the name suggests, Requiem for Libricide uses the ‘excuse’ of book burning to explore important issues such as omissions, censorship, and amnesia. It is an interactive performance that utilises various media. In the darkness, audiences enter a space three stories high.