residency period july – october 2023
Interview by Freek Wolter
Siba Sahabi (1979) came to Meudon to research dance and music. But when she arrived, new projects quickly arose. I came to see her on a Saturday, for lunch. In the atelier, we talk about her work and experiences at the Van Doesburg house where she resides until end of October.
Can you tell me a bit about your work as a designer?My work focusses on the design of objects, installations and décors for theatre and film. Because I have a German-Iranian background, the relation between the Middle East and Europe plays an important role in my work. I use stories from the past to show that more exchanges took place than people often think. The line perspective, which was of great importance in the Italian Renaissance, for example, was developed on the basis of scientific knowledge from the Middle East. And geometric patterns, which play an important role in Eastern art history, can also be found in ancient Greece. As with Theo van Doesburg, you can also find this geometry in my work: he liked squares, I like triangles.
With what idea did you come to the Van Doesburg house.Recently, I am increasingly involved in dance. I came to the Van Doesburghuis to develop notation for dance, as is common in music. Notating music is already quite complex, because you have to deal with the length, height and intensity of tones. In dance, it’s about space, time and intensity of movements. I want to capture this ‘composition’ in a three-dimensional notation where objects enable the conversation between dancer and designer. I’ll have my theory tested by several performers, to see if it works.
What role did Theo van Doesburg play during your residence?Interdisciplinarity was evident to Nelly and Theo. They made no distinction between artists’ backgrounds and the discipline they practised. As a designer myself, I work a lot with different disciplines and makers from different fields. I met Els Reuver at a get-together of the Atelier Néerlandais, she is a choreographer and within ten minutes we said ‘OK, let’s develop something together’. Els used her network and involved two of her students, the young dancers performing in the show: Emma Picard and Lorenzo Finocchi, they trained at the Conservatoire Marcel Dupré in Meudon. Everyone who contributed to the performance, including photographer Jean-Michel Bale and composer Jennifer Hutt, is from Meudon. The performance is based on a quote by Theo van Doesburg in which he praises a mountain landscape three thousand metres high as the ideal environment for creative thinking. The dancers interact with three sculptures I designed during my residence; they represent abstract mountains.
Do you have a favourite room in the house?The atelier. I sit a lot at the table designed by Theo, where you can really experience the light in this space. Usually studios only have northern light, but here the light comes from all sides. In summer around eight in the morning, it was best seen with the shadow of the trees on the floor and walls.
Siba’s residency was made possible by the
Creative Industries Fund NL.
Photo’s: Jean-Michel Bale ©