Delbar Shahbaz’s video installation Two-of-Us is a brief but all-consuming descent into a woman’s amputation – amputation from herself (“She asked me to jump”), amputation from her assigned gender role of motherhood (“Doctor said I have to eat instead for two people. Two people?”), amputation from her country, Iran (“We were in Armenia….then I went to Turkey”).
The video is unnerving. Scenes fade to black rhythmically, and dialogue cuts in and overlaps with yelps and manic laughter. The subject stares with no expression at the camera at times and paces nervously too, rubbing her belly.
She speaks to herself and asks: “Do I have to play? She tells me to play with her”. The baby inside her becomes a dependent thing instead, a veritable parasite telling her how to manage her own body. The woman gives in and starts to jump, but the “play” and the jumping quickly amplifies until her stomach literally tumbles out into a pile. She never gave in at all – she resisted. Here, the notion of jumping – at first in the realm of innocent playing – reveals the grotesque, connoting suicide and death.
But she survives. The video ends with her jumping away and gleefully laughing into the sunlight, a stark contrast from the dark and blurry casts of shadow the video was mostly shot in.
Plaster sculpture, 1 Channel HD video
Room dimension: 13x11x 8 Feet