Stained

In Iranian culture the use of henna has been documented as far back as the Ghaznavid Empire which existed from 975 to 1187. Henna is generally applied to the skin in intricate patterns that reference the artists own style as well as regional and cultural heritage, along with personal taste and social class. It is said the more intricate and darker the stain the more wealth and privilege is implied.  It wasn't until European travelers chronicled their disdain for the practice, describing the stained hands and feet as dirty or  filthy, that the art form fell from trend in common Iranian practices.

Henna is predominantly a feminine practice of ornamenting the skin in order to make it more sexually appealing.  It is very difficult to apply henna to ones self, therefore the stain is often applied to the body by another person, in harems or women╩╝s hammams (baths).  Many Persian poets and painters have admired the beauty of hennaed hands and bodies. Traditionally meant for young women, at times, highly valued horses and dogs of high pedigree where stained red with henna paste and on the odd occasion older men.

Hanna not only has medicinal purposes as a pain killer, anti-inflammatory and natural sunscreen but is also used to ward off the evil eye when painted on before being betrothed, giving birth and even as part of preparatory ceremonies for war and rebellion.

My performance includes the preparation of the henna paste and the application of it to my body. The green mud covers all the areas of my body that I can reach. I stain my skin, then wash the mud off and reapply for a darker stain.  This gesture is performed at a at a distance from my audience.  In my own private space, I embody this ritual as an act of reclamation.