In Iran, there is a longstanding tradition associated with funerals. During this time, close friends or relatives gather at the home of the deceased to participate in meaningful customs. One of these customs involves the preparation of stuffed dates filled with walnuts while whispering Sureh-ye-Hamd, the opening chapter of the Quran, as a gesture believed to bring blessings to the soul of the deceased. These actions hold cultural significance and are carried out as a way to honor the departed individual. Finally, the stuffed dates are shared with the wider community, symbolizing a sense of togetherness and encouraging others to partake in the recitation of Sureh-ye-Hamd for the purpose of bestowing blessings upon the departed soul.
In Mozafari's adaptation of this tradition, instead of reciting Sureh-ye-Hamd, she will whisper the names of victims who have suffered due to the authorities' brutality in Iran. Mozafari will personally stuff the dates with walnuts, symbolizing the connection between the victims and their stories. Afterward, she will serve these symbolic treats to the public and invite them to whisper the names of the victims as a way to honour and raise awareness for the Iranian victims.
Reliving Thousands of Suppressed Collective Memories employs the moqarnas pattern (a form of the ornamented vaulting system primarily used in Islamic architecture) as a metaphor representing the spatial memories of her homeland. The work serves as a vessel through which the artist, in a series of performances, will establish a connection between the thousands of geometrical shapes extracted from the moqarnas of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and the thousands of individuals who have been persecuted by the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past forty-four years. Tragically, many of these murdered individuals were clandestinely buried in unknown graves, depriving their families of the opportunity to properly mourn their loss. Honouring these lives lost and amplifying their silent voices, Reliving Thousands of Suppressed Collective Memories engages in an act of belated mourning and illuminates the ongoing violations suffered by the people of Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, striving to raise awareness of these profound injustices.
Merging the visual impact of the moqarnas pattern with the intense duration and emotional weight of writing about thousands of names and linking it with the Woman-Life-Freedom Revolution, Mozafari's work urges for an end to the ongoing execution of individuals and advocates for the preservation of lives.
Sara Mozafari was born in the summer of 1981 in Tehran, Iran, two years after the1978 Islamic Revolution, one year after the beginning of eight years of war between Iran and Iraq, and seven years before the mass execution of Iranian political prisoners ordered by Ayatollah Khomeini. Sara was born as a woman-to-be, eventually leaving the country when she was twenty-five. After immigrating to Canada, her factual perceptions of her home country narrowed to her own memories and the news received through news outlets, daily. Currently, the primary focus of Mozafari's practice is to recognize space, displacement, and memory, in diverse aspects of human identity and social relations. She received an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Toronto with distinction in 2017, and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts, Media, and Design from OCAD University in 2021, for which she received the Dean's Medal. In September 2023, she will embark on her doctoral studies in Visual Arts at York University, where her research will focus on how urban spaces that were once utilized by authoritarians as tools of suppression and control have transformed into battlegrounds and spaces of resistance, embodying the demands of society since Woman-Life-Freedom revolution.