Shirin Mozaffari (born in Tehran, lives in the US), Someone Else’s Project, 2012. 4:39
As we contemplate the origins of images, seeing them through someone else’s eyes becomes inextricable characteristic of the “original” image. Images of the elsewhere are appropriated into the imaginary. As artists in the diaspora reach out to their origins, they negotiate their own positions. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, distant or prohibited places can be virtually within reach. US-based artist Shirin Mozaffari negotiates this virtual distance in her film Someone Else’s Project (2012). Her intention was to have a videographer shoot some footage of everyday life in her hometown, Tehran, for a project. Instead, the project turned into an obfuscated collaboration with a young woman in Tehran who chose to remain anonymous. In this exchange, Mozaffari extends her authorship to Anonymous, who assumes multiple roles as character, videographer, and, to a degree, alternate author. Working together, they highlight the censorship that prohibits them access to, and ownership of, the public space of the city, and, by extension, their own agency. Together, they overcome restrictions of access and establish a live link between “here” and “elsewhere,” “you” and “me,” “author” and “spectator.” Each collaborator is spectator as much as author of another’s project. This extended author-spectatorship encompasses others—ourselves, providing us with access to the site of practice. Both distancing and proximity are realized.