Farkhondeh Shahroudi | OU

Farkhondeh Shahroudi, OU, 2008. Sound, 04:06

In her concrete video poem, Farkhondeh Shahroudi visualizes speech. This figure is indeterminate and non-gendered, such as ou — the third singular person in Persian, which is neuter. In the Indo-European languages, the neuter has been absorbed into the masculine. The reasons may be morphological, but, as Roland Barthes points out, “form comes with dreams, with images of contents, form (here, language) shapes latent ideology, the imaginal of the language.” On the one hand, “massive shift of the neuters to the masculine form contributes to a certain indifferentiation, a blurring of the sexual markers; the Neuter used to work as repoussoir, allowing gender to be marked in relation to nongender — indifferentiated empire under the mold of the masculine — the feminine becomes marked.” On the other hand, the masculine retains dominance — as words are always noted under their masculine form — “that will always depend on the ideology of the moment, since gender is an “idea”!”   The extent of the Neuter is beyond Grammar (gender, neither masculine nor feminine; and verbs, neither active nor passive); as it applies to politics (those who don’t take sides); Botany (neuter flower); Zoology (the drones that have no sexual organs and cannot mate); Physics (neutral bodies with no electrical charge, conductors that aren’t the seat of any current); and Chemistry (neutral salts, neither acidic nor basic). The category of Neutral is defined in crossover of language, gesture, action, and body. It is the discourse of the non-choice — the other of choice, the other of conflict. Barthes’s reflections on the Neutral epitomize an artwork engaged in its own time in “a free manner — to be looking for my own style of being present to the struggles of my time.”

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