Shabah e Baad (Ghost Winds)
Audio mixing and on-site technical support: Jon Carr
Production Manager: Michael Mersereau
Shabah e Baad (Ghost Winds) is a six-channel sound installation that looks at intricate erotics and economies of reciprocity between human bodies and waterways via an ancient ceremony that weds widows to qanats—indigenous Iranian underground aqueducts—that are in danger of drying up. Asgary transcribed recordings of various bodies of water into musical notation for voice. Following this, she improvised composer Atabak Elyasi’s variations on her original compositions while working closely with master vocalist Mahsa Vahdat. This process opened up connections between various dastgāhs (Persian modal systems) that span landscapes, histories, and time.
Emitted from the fins within YBCA’s Third Street Courtyard, the resultant six water-body songs are mapped to the Ghost Creeks of San Francisco, creating a sonic landscape that casts reflections of silence, dissonance, and convergences. Paired with the sound installation is a parabolic-shaped sculpture opening upward towards the sky. Resembling both an acoustic mirror and a water clock, the object reflects waves of sound and light. Out of sight, a subwoofer engulfs the space with low sounds recorded from YBCA’s machine room, an underground distribution system that pumps air and water in and out of the building. Like the now-extinct waterways of San Francisco, Asgary draws parallels between underground distribution networks across space and time.
Exhibition: Bay Area Now 9, October 6, 2023 - May 5, 2024
Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Performance: Sholeh Asgary + David Rothenberg, November 3, Gallery Bergen