Same costumes, different bodies: dressing yourself confirms an identity

Dressing yourself is often a solitary act, yet the gaze of the other is always in the back of one’s mind. How do you want to show up in this world? It’s a question that puzzles visual and performative artist Darius Dolatyari-Dolatdoust in his new performance for the third edition of INDISCIPLINE. This yearly one-day festival, set at the Grand Casino in the Belgian seaside resort of Knokke-Heist, is the perfect place for Darius to find answers.

Before diving into your performance, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Yes, sure! I live in Marseille however, most of my work is in Belgium due to my studies. I just finished ISAC (Institut Supérieur des Arts et des Chorégraphies) in Brussels. Today I’m working both in visual and performative art, they complement each other very well. As a visual and performative artist, I work with textiles, patchwork, scenography and costumes. I start all of my work with drawings, which can then evolve into many different other forms. 

The festival INDISCIPLINE encourages new forms of perception, experience and corporeality. How do you do that with your performance? 

WIELS asked me to create a new piece related to the space, the Grand Casino. The casino is divided into two spaces: one is surrounded by the work of tapestry artist Jean Lurçat and the other by the surrealist painter René Magritte. Their work inspired me to experiment with details, shapes and patterns.

Can you elaborate? 

For example, in the Magritte room, the pattern of the sky changes from the background to a shape, which becomes a woman. There is a certain flow in the details that changes the perception. I also try to play with perception in my new performance by looking at the experience of corporeality within costumes. The first 30 minutes of the performance is about dressing up, in which I experiment with the space, the audience and the bodies on stage.

How we dress ourselves confirms an identity, a body, a humanity

What do you want to tell with your performance? 

The performance brings the solitary act of dressing and the gaze of the other together in one space. It shows how we can build up an identity with clothes, fashion, makeup and accessories. How we dress ourselves confirms an identity, a body, a humanity: precisely this tension between human and non-human interests me. When animals see a reflection of themselves in the water, they are not aware of their own gaze. We as humans see a reflection of ourselves through the spectator. We need the gaze of the other to interact and react. 

Can you tell a bit more about this line between non-humans and humans? 

The large statement of my performance is to question the hierarchies between animals and humans. What is to be less human? Throughout the performance, the performers react to their own sensations and produce sounds, not words. Precisely to emphasize that we not only ‘have’ a body, but ‘are’ a body. 

Why should people come to this festival? 

This festival offers multidisciplinary propositions and emerging artists in just one night: dance, performances, music, video and visual arts. Plus, it takes place in the rare and surprising context of a casino, which already should interest people to come. If you want to take a break, you can even walk to the beach!

For me it’s important to work with different bodies – women, men, non-binary people, different skin colours – and to see this diversity as an enrichment

Do you have a final message you’d like to add? 

It intrigues me how costumes, clothes in general, highlight different bodies. The same costume can be different on another body. For me, it’s important to work with different bodies – women, men, non-binary people and different skin colours – and to see this diversity as an enrichment. As a man born to a German-Polish mother and an Iranian father in France, my identity can be perceived as complex. Through the use of our bodies, you can fight for your identity and own your place in space.


01/04/2023 – Crand Casino Knokke-Heist

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@dariusdolatyari /  @cultuurknokkeheist /  @wiels_brussels /  @sachaverhij /  @paulrousteau / @jesuisbleudetoi

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