The Thermal Body Signature of a Second Class Citizen, Choking on His Own Saliva

Pedram Badari

Not an Artist Statement

There are moments in life during which one experiences being out of place, exposed, extremely vulnerable and unequipped to fit into a socio-political narrative especially when it comes to homogenous nationalistic ones. In case of unfamiliarity with such situations, I can attest they are filled with fear to the point of suffocation. I have lived my entire life in such a state when it comes to citizenship. Being Kurdish in Iran is a life sentence of living a second class citizen status – stripped from fundamental rights – that the majority of Iranians with other ethnic backgrounds enjoy. This generational trauma of demonization of my people bulges out ten folds while standing in line at school yards every morning through K12 education to salute the national anthem of Iran. Such emotion intensifies even more through the compulsory military service lasting two years during which every morning I stood with the entire central air force base south of Tehran for the morning saluting ceremony. Saluting the echoing sound of an anthem that offers nothing but the manifestation of the alienating colonial history resonating in the air, choking up the airways of the same bodies that have been subjugated through systemic violence and discrimination.

Looking at the realities of my new home in the U.S. does not draw a liberating image either. The forced nationality of the country I am from folds up on top of the nationality of the country I am living in the multilayered reality of decades of tension, intervention, war and sanctions. The new home deems the country I carry its nationality as the ‘axis of evil’ and has set the most blanketing regimes of sanctions that have double/triple victimized the people of Iran in such ways that also have created a second class citizenship status for those of us living in the ‘land of the free.’ It does not matter how much one blends in, how much one conceals their accent and how well they ‘assimilate.’ The ways the sanctions work target all the population in a fashion that reminds me day in and day out of the same suffocating feeling when I used to forcefully salute the national anthem of a country that has done everything it can to erase my people from the face of history.

What stitches these two realities together is that I am still a Second Class Citizen only living under a different flag. This has allowed me to seek solidarity with many other groups globally and people of different backgrounds with similar experiences. The indigenous, the black and the Hispanic, the Asians, the queer bodies and all those who are feeling the same while facing the homogenous narratives that aim to discredit their realities. For such a reason my video here delves into a different vision. Using a thermal camera, I am investigating the thermal changes of a stressed body. The brown and the black body affected by the pandemic and the epidemic generational subjugating efforts by global and regional colonial powers. In this video, I am aiming to explore those under layered realities that are not visible to the eyes. They are flowing through the veins and circulating with our blood, passing down through generations.

Article by: