Over the course of five years, with the help of 2 lawyers, 33 letters of recommendation, and 54 project agreements, I sent over 800 pages to the US Immigration Services to continuously prove my legal alien status. My israeli citizenship has a profound effect on my efforts to become a US citizen. It is a chosen battle, not born of fear or political retaliation but a desire to be away from the forces who indoctrinate my mind and body into believing my life is worth more than Palestinians. I am not in danger if I go back, I am not banned by the United States and I am not banned by israel for my support of the BDS movement. Living under the possibility of deportation, I often dwell on the amounts of financial support, military endorsement and allyship the United States offers (my) country in their continuous totalitarian occupation of Palestine. I am israeli, I am queer, I am woman, I have dedicated my life to undoing the brainwashing (my) country instilled in me.
As a practitioner of voice and movement, I was constantly learning repertoire during my studies. I used repetition until the parts were part of me to produce the original form as genuinely and as exactly as my body would allow. Narratives were subsumed by my body. Expressions of performance were buried deep within myself. A dutiful student, I listened, learned, rehearsed, and inadvertently internalized the “truths” society offered. My everyday life became an unconscious reperformance of heterosexuality, while my queerness was denied the space to be seen.
In this piece, I will open up to you my entire visa applications, which have sanitized and glorified my artistic practice and character in order to appeal to the bureaucratic institutions of the US government. I am reflecting and enduring the cage of my own making in all of its humiliating details. I am exposing what it feels like to present myself for the approval of American officials, while acknowledging the preferential treatment that comes with my israeli passport. It is vulnerable, it is torturous, it is heavy, it is embedded with undeniable privilege.
This improvisational performance will be a process of unraveling all that I have covered and left hidden. I will seek to dismantle the myriad systems forced on my body in my continuous search for a self as our governments vilify difference. In a quest to shed layers, I will use muscle memory as a tool that informs a rephrasing of my body. All the while reflecting on my experience as a first generation American, with Iranian and English heritage, and marital ties to israel. I will sing the melodies of songs without any words and I will create movement pieces to explore the challenging process of disengaging from violent narratives assigned to genders and sexualities. I will attempt to discover a place where my body is listening to a language of its own making, and where I can quietly and thoughtfully move my body in silence.
We invite you to witness the transformation, and lend a hand in the breaking.