Haji Firuz

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Haji Firuz, 2007, HD video, 07:58 min, color sound

In Iran Haji Firuz is a clownesque character in blackface, traditionally heralding the Persian New Year: Noruz. With song and dance he spreads good cheer and inaugurates the festive season. Set within a busy shopping street in West-Berlin, Entekhabi enacts his own version of Haji Firuz. However, his continuous efforts and increasingly exaggerated gestures to attract attention and become included within a commodified urban setting, are widely ignored by the busy Christmas shoppers. Their own preoccupation with performing the festive season themselves, by means of consumption, disallows them to see, let alone consume, an element which seems out-of-place and disrupts the regular flow of goods and people. Entekhabi’s Haji Firuz challenges normative behavioral patterns by pushing social and racial boundaries; it becomes clear within these parameters, that participation in a particular system, is based on exclusivity and conformity.

Haji Firouz is a figure from Persian pre-Islamic times, that's original meaning is forgotten. But the new Islamic society continued to make use of this figure - as a kind of empty shell that they kept alive because of nostalgical reasons and the integrational function of the figure as such.They never changed Haji Firouz's meaning. Haji Firouz as such reminds us of e.g. medieval practices when the simple people invented parodies of the aristocratic ceremonies. The most fascinating thing to me are the words that Haji Firouz uses.:

Flip flip flip,
When I flip here, someone's to complain here
When I flip there, there's also someone to complain.
A black slave like me has to be very patient.
Master, Master, take up your head
Master, Master, look at me
Master, Master, you are as sweet as sugar
My Master, why don't you laugh?

The hyperbolism and exaggeration within these figures, have quite a potential of humour in it, with all there muscles and masculinity, there are anyway some kind of sad clowns. This leads us to the work I made for the Visual correspondent project that introduces a particular clown figure from the Middle East, the Haji Firouz. In Iran,

A Coproduction: Visual Foreign Correspondents, Amsterdam 2007
and Amsterdamse Fonds voor de Kunsten, VSB, De Balie en het Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst .

Performance: Shahram Entekhabi, Camera: Steffen Koehn, Costumes & Make up: Martina Schöne-Radunski