"It’s not one trait or womanhood or freedom— I am not every woman; every woman is me"
In actuality, International Women’s Day is the day of the phoenix. A symbol in nearly all cultures and mythologies, the phoenix is a majestic bird the Egyptians revered as the sun god Ra. Said to live in 500-year cycles, each cycle began with the bird rising from the ashes of its flamed nest. And so, the connection between the phoenix and women across the globe is evident.
Unsaid sat down with actress, theatremaker, musician, and curator Sachli Gholamalizad for a genuine conversation and an enlightening lunch. Born in Iran and raised in Belgium from age six, Sachli’s story is the classic tale of women, identity, and migration. A story not singular but representative of the world at large, she has managed to dedicate her work and expression to these shared experiences that are often erased. And in doing so, Sachli Gholamalizad keeps her roots close and shares her branches to lift everyone around her.
“I had to reinvent myself repeatedly and own my story to create space for myself and people like me doing similar things. It’s the only way to prevent yourself from being erased”
“Music and theatre have always been in my life, and I realise I need multiple mediums to express myself. So between acting, filmmaking, singing, even advocating, it all comes together to form one all-encompassing voice,” shared Sachli.
Through Unsaid’s conversation with the multihyphenate, we quickly learned that expression and identity, no matter how often one must recreate themselves, are paramount in this life.
“I don't always feel that my city is international. So I had to reinvent myself repeatedly and own my story to create space for myself and people like me doing similar things. It’s the only way to prevent yourself from being erased.”
Whether through artistic practice or daily habit, Sachli is constantly searching for how to make sense of all moving parts— art, identity, current events, and the distance between her and her native country. Through thoughtful action, raising awareness is a common theme in her day to day.
“The world is always happening, so many people fighting something; now, in my world, the biggest thing is the women-led uprising in Iran. I blamed my mother for so long for ripping me from my roots when I was a child, but now I realise how powerful her decision was and that she was a phoenix for her family so long ago. Her actions show me my trauma is like this [pinches fingers] compared to those who stayed. Today, Iranian women and people, as a whole, are willing to give up individual freedom for the freedom of their country, and that’s where the phoenix comes in. We call it Simorgh, meaning 30 birds.
The story of Simorgh is that 1,000 birds flew together, each representing a different human trait from good to bad. The 30 that stayed, in the end, realised they were all Simorgh and that Simorgh was not one bird. So it’s not one trait or one womanhood or freedom, but representative of everyone. I think of Simorgh as all the women in the world. So this conversation is appreciated, but I am not every woman; every woman is me. This is why I invited some peers to join the conversation during our lunch— to share our different stories and see the common thread connecting us all.”
Before this collaboration began, Sachli, in her way, wanted to share her spotlight with others that she shares a connection, either in a reflection or life bonds. So one Friday afternoon, Sachli invited others to have lunch with Unsaid, provided by Noshi Jon, in honour of International Women’s Day. Unsaid, in the company of Sachli, broke bread with painter Maryam Najd, producer Natalia Tjurina, fellow actress and theatre maker Malique Fye, and food artist Sadaf Malyar of Noshi Jon. Discussing their chosen vehicles of expression, diaspora stories, and the obstacles they’ve countlessly risen from. Like bon appetit, ‘noshi jon’ is Farsi for ‘may it nourish your soul’. And this particular afternoon, with all the guests and their stories, did exactly that for International Women’s Day.
Jewellery from the Phoenix collection | Follow Sachli at @sachli_gholamalizad
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