‘A Night at Virginian Club’ by the Ebony Horse

Golrokh Nafisi
Performance Installation
Tehran May 2018
Darbast Platform

Assistants: Ahmadali Kadivar, Haleh Ghasemi Fard, Ehsan Abdifar

First: In the three hundred and fifty-seventh night of Shahrazad’s One Thousand and One Nights of storytelling, appears Ebony, the flying horse. At the beginning of the epic  the prince decides to ride Ebony, but the horse disappears into the sky. In the following nights, the flying horse returns to Earth into the familiar cities of 1001 nights: Sana’a, Baghdad, and Cairo- where the collective writers of these stories had once lived.  These cities have imaginary bazaars, kings, princes and princesses, tailors and dressmakers, physicians, and citizens,  living inside the fairy tales of One Thousand and One Nights. Nowadays, what makes these cities imaginary to us is not their talking, flying, or spellbound animals; rather, it is the fact that it is impossible for us to travel to them for various geopolitical reasons.Thus, Shahrazad’s narration of these cities and her fantasy of flying over them with the Ebony horse might be far more probable than our physical landing in their reality.

Second: Decay is part of life. It is not characterised by developing and evolving, but by a movement  towards disappearance and destruction. Decaying is a form of living, deeply ingrained in the fabric of these cities through  multilayered and grand historical events. They undergo political changes and turn from one thing to another. The remains of earlier worlds still exist under their present skin: in abandoned houses, empty shops, and transformed cabarets…The new layers, however, are themselves  changing, at an unbelievable pace, to something newer and more acceptable. That is why when we look at them from high viewpoints we see cities that are simultaneously dying and being born: new cities are being born in Beirut, Tehran, and Cairo while cities from the past are dying out without being moved away. Life carries on its existence and turns  old underneath layers of dust. “Virginian Club” is the story of one of these lives.

Third: A moment does not repeat itself, for it is unique. For instance, the moment in which an older waiter from the Virginian Club’s glorious days asked us to take a memorial picture in the empty, dusty These stories, timelessly transport us back into the realm of the past. The scene of the restaurant, can never be repeated. But stories are different: they do not depend on time. If their fictitious essence is strong enough, these stories carry on without being thoroughly faithful to boundaries, borders and impossible.

Golrokh Nafisi
May, 2018