Poetry Reading

Public Event

Protagonists and Agents (Talk)
The Others and the Orphaned Gaps (Poetry Reading German/Farsi)

Maryam Palizban

Launch of the platform, December 10, 2021, Freifläche, Berlin: Talk Protagonists and Agents, and poetry reading The Others and the Orphaned Gaps (German/Farsi), Maryam Palizban, theatre scholar, author/poet, actress, and director. (In German and Farsi)

Protagonists and Agents

A few nights ago I dreamt of my own execution. I was standing there, next to other people, with my eyes open and my hands closed. I was ready and knew that it was there: my death. The first bullet was fired and hit me right in the face, in my left cheek.
It was not the shock I had imagined! No trembling all over my body! but a slight sense of being penetrated by a burning sensation that intensified and took hold of everything.
Slowly and coldly, my face fell into shreds and I dropped to the floor on the exact spot where the bullet hit me in the face.
I didn’t know what exactly gave me away! I never do know! But the firing squad realised that I wasn’t dead yet. One of them approached. I didn’t see a face!

Just his boots, advancing slowly but determined to finish off the job. He shot me in my left breast. Then I was finally dead and I woke up.
I still noticed a spot on my cheek that was painful and the emptiness that ripped me to pieces. I was only briefly dead and afterwards I wanted to understand why. I simply wanted to know why I had been sentenced to death. Did this dream state arise because of my worries about friends and colleagues in Iran who were arrested and my absolute and ever increasing bewilderment about the reasons or what was conveyed to them as the reason? Is it always the same fear of an unpredictable power structure? Is this part of my ever-refreshed memory of the mass executions during the post-revolutionary era? Processing trauma and grief? Or does some other reason lie behind this nightmare and the reason for my death sentence?

No, this is not a prelude to a long poem. The poetry reading will be held later. This would be an attempt as not “just an artist” and not “just an academic” to get to grips with a topic set between these opposing poles and fronts. The problem, however, is precisely these two poles that have also defined themselves here as INSIDE and OUTSIDE. Actually, this “INSIDE” and “OUTSIDE” should fit together like a single body, yet that is not the case…
INSIDE: East, OUTSIDE: West! INSIDE: South, OUTSIDE: North! So often, too often, they remain as opposing poles. The cooperations, the reunions, all the rage-laden looks directed from just one side towards the “others”. But who are these others?

Here, in the space of this short text, these others are the players, the protagonists of culture. The protagonists are individuals in a collective that tries to play its role between the power structures. They remain “protagonists” until they move within the interstices. As soon as protagonists move closer to a position of power, they run the risk that one side will consider them as an AGENT.
Inside – outside – in-between: these three positions.
This unbearable urge to belong! You are one of us! You are one of them! Through power, protagonists become agents involuntarily or even of their own free will.
Protagonists and agents: these two figures are one or perhaps they are not. They are both complicated; connected to the crises and to war.
And what about us? Who are we?

We fall between two stools, sitting on the fence. Facing the risk of always being misunderstood, coincidentally or not, tumbling down due to a bullet.

It’s all our fault after all! We don’t express ourselves clearly! But that is the price of remaining a protagonist and not becoming an agent.
How is that supposed to work? How can we be sure? Resolute and clear?

I can’t tell.
I’ll never find out even if I try…
I don’t work for a firing squad.

Launch — ©
Launch of the platform, December 10, 2021, Freifläche, Berlin: Maryam Palizban.

Translated from German by Helen Ferguson.