The Iranian singer co-directs & stars in the latest video from her debut album ISON.
A red, silk dress, an elegant ballroom, and a French porn star. That’s all it took for Sevdaliza to create one of the most hauntingly beautiful music videos we’ve seen all year. The Iranian-born singer just dropped the video for “Bluecid,” the newest single from her debut album ISON, and it’s as gorgeous as she is.
For “Bluecid,” the songstress teamed up with Zahra Reijs to co-direct the stunning video set in an empty ballroom in the Netherlands. Sevdaliza drips in jewels and enough dew to make Glossier blush as she sings and dances with the French adult film actor François Sagat.
It’s an unexpected twist for such a somber track, but that’s exactly what she was going for. After all, nothing lives up to the lyric, “I could only have you in my dreams, so it seems,” quite like dancing with a gay porn star. As if that weren’t enough, she also found inspiration in a passage from Dante’s Inferno that reads:
„My sage cried out to him: ‚You think, perhaps, this is the Duke of Athens, who in the world put you to death. Get away, you beast, for this man does not come tutored by your sister; he comes to view your punishments.'“
Daydream about what gay porn star you want to tango with and watch “Bluecid,“ below.
“Bluecid,” the fusion of the words “blue acid,” unearths Sevdaliza’s uncontrollable love and desire for a man she will never be able to love. The lyrics see Sevdaliza putting the blame on the man and painting him as the bad guy before angrily accepting the painful truth at the end of the song.
The enchanting music video, released exactly two months after the song, features Sevdaliza dancing in a ballroom with French porn-star François Sagat. Sagat, who is gay in real life, plays the role of the untouchable man who Sevdaliza has fallen for. Due to his uncontrollable sexuality, the two will never be able to live the fantasy that Sevdaliza has concocted in her head.
I think this is one of the most amazing songs I have heard this year. My soul flew away.
It’s sensually dark like her single Human by her. I love her vocals and the catchiness of the chorus even though it’s slow.
Karen Barad and Sevdaliza — Feminist (?) Music Videos part 1.
For the past few years I have taught an undergraduate course about cultural forms of expression. Each year I do a lecture about music videos and feminism, since I love playing around with analyzing content my students would encounter in their everyday life.
When I started out using music videos in class, we mostly stuck to huge names, like Kanye and Beyoncé. It was easier to find academic work that could support our analysis when choosing videos that were widely discussed. This year, however, I pushed myself a bit further and we started analyzing music videos that had not undergone the same level of academic treatment or public scrutiny. So for the video today I have chosen one by an artist I have really enjoyed following lately.
Sevdaliza is an Iranian-dutch multitalented singer, record producer and artist. Musically, the melancholic avant-garde-pop references the golden days of trip-hop, bringing to mind Portisheads Dummy, meanwhile referencing grime and punk artists as well heavy beats and rhythms perhaps influenced by the artist’s early interest in hip hop and rap. Most of the music is in English, but Sevdaliza did come out with a song in 2017 in Farsi protesting the political climate and racism.
Human, a music video which premiered in 2016, shows Sevdaliza, cloaked, walking to an indoor show-ring, surrounded by expecting spectators. When watching this video, one might ask: What would a 4th wave (or posthumanist) feminist music video look like? Can a music video ask of us that we question the boundaries of categorization, gender, sexualization, racialization and exotification without reproducing them?
The video is probably a reference to Debra Paget’s scene, where she dances for a cobra, in the 1959 film by Fritz Lang The Indian Tomb.
As such, it might also be easy to write it off as a reproduction of the sexualized, exotifying and problematic representations of race and gender in that film — but that would be a shame. Even though the resemblance is jarring, Sevdaliza has made some pretty significant changes, which, to me, suggest that the choice of something so iconically (s)exotifying was deliberate.
Take for instance the gaze. In Fritz Langs film, Debra Paget was dancing for the snake (no phallic pun intended — see the picture below) — but the scene was also a classic example of what Laura Mulvey described as the male gaze in her groundbreaking essay Visual pleasure and narrative cinema. Mulveys male gaze, is all about how films are made through a male patriarchal point of view and perspective — not just literally (men are overrepresented behind the cameras in Hollywood and beyond) but also in terms of plot, characters and the perspective of the stories. The Indian Tomb was made by men, for men, and with a clear idea of what men liked — allowing for women to only perform their gender in very particular ways.
In Sevdalizas video, however, the perverse spectator is brought to the center. Rather than scapegoating the act of oppressive sexualization onto animals (and “others” — note the background men in Langs film), Sevdaliza brings them forth and allows us to rest for a long time on their nervous, sweaty, uncomfortable and guilty spectatorship. Furthermore, the male gaze is stretched out through other hungry characters, as if to tell us that we are all guilty of oppressive consumptions (or what bell hooks might call “eating the other”) — or that we may all have internalized the male gaze. Just like that, Sevdaliza turns it around, and the humans are the animals consuming and sexualizing her — the animal insisting it is human.
And what is that about? Why is Sevdaliza half horse? At first, I thought of it quite literally — the animalism was a play on Sevdaliza striving to be seen as human (literally the lyric of the song) — a simple play on the dehumanization of women (maybe particularly women of colour). But I recently attended a seminar and lecture with Quantum Physicist Karen Barad. My sister introduced me to Barads work years ago, but while attending the lecture a coin dropped — and finally I began to understand some of the links between posthumanist feminist philosophy, queer-theory and Sevdalizas horse legs.
It sounds way out — but it makes me think of Karen Barads text Transmaterialities from GLQ: a journal of lesbian and gay studies — particularly the following quote: “Monstrosity, like electrical jolts, cuts both ways. It can serve to demonize, dehumanize, and demoralize. It can also be a source of political agency. It can empower and radicalize.” Was Sevdaliza radically performing monstrosity?
Applying Barads uses of “both/and” — in which we are asked to consider the materiality of something that is “both” (two separate things) “and” (one whole/the same) at the same time — begs us to consider that the fixedness with which we define bodies (ie. what is Human) might not be the most useful way to think of materiality. One could ask — is Sevdaliza distinctly human and nonhuman but also simultaneously both? If so, Sevdalizas Human video offers a quite literal critique through a use of the posthuman/nonhuman altered body — in other words, her use of the nonhuman and exotified character only briefly dehumanizes and demonizes Sevdaliza, in order to ultimately dehumanize, demoralize and critique the audience, ultimately giving Sevdaliza the empowering radical agency to reflect humanity onto itself through her own (non/)human state.
Barad, Karen. “Transmaterialities: Trans*/matter/realities and queer political imaginings.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21.2–3 (2015): 387–422.
hooks, bell. Black looks: Race and representation. South East Press, Bosta, MM, 1992.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual pleasure and narrative cinema.” Visual and other pleasures. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 1989. 14–26.
Francis Gay (Musikchef): Andrea Laszlo De Simone – „Immensità“
Unermesslichkeit heißt auf Italienisch „Immensità“. Und in diesem schlimmen Corona-Jahr habe ich die Unermesslichkeit dank Andrea Laszlo De Simone entdeckt. Dieser Song des Cantautore aus Turin hat mich verhext. Was für eine wunderbare Anomalie: ein antiquierter Sound, eine unschuldig-lässig-schwebende Stimme, die sich über das Unermessliche, über Leid und Freude auslässt. Andrea Laszlo De Simone würde ich gern mal treffen und interviewen. Sein Lied wie ein Traum. Wie kein anderes Leid gibt es mir, was ich täglich in diesen Corona-Zeiten vermisse: Geborgenheit und Vertrautes.
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Cosmo Chill am 30.12.2020 mit Francis Gay
COSMO Soundcheck. 30.12.2020. 60:00 Min.. Verfügbar bis 30.12.2021. COSMO.
Euch steigen jetzt schon all die Erwartungen für das neue Jahr und Silvester zu Kopf? Nehmt den Druck raus und lasst alles los in einer Stunde COSMO Chill. Francis Gay nimmt euch an der Hand und leitet euch auf musikalischen Pfaden durch Tracks von Cesária Évora, Thiago Franca, Edith Piaf, Sevdaliza und Yaeji. Augen zu und Musik ab!Weitere Infos zur Sendung: