If you inherited only your father’s family name how would it change the way you self-identify, interact with others and perceive the world if you had inherited your mother’s family name instead?
In Letter to My Father, Franz Kafka uses parricide (the killing of the father) as a concept to reflect on how actions by authoritarian governments manifest in the family unit. To confront this concept an attendant will offer a provocation in the women’s restroom while washing your hands.
With the participant’s permission this experience will be documented, so traces of the dialogue will be handwritten on the walls and the audio recording exhibited in the men’s restrooms (if the restrooms are not gender inclusive) as a sound installation.
Parricida encourages values of gender equality through practices of care in order to counter patriarchal behavior that is replicated in familial and social life. It also seeks to dismantle conventional gender roles that continue to oppress people who identify as female, non-binary, and transgender through a re-naming of family lineage.
The act of renaming oneself according to a maternal family line shifts a certain level of consciousness and breaks one’s relation to dominant norms. By inviting people to narrate their mother’s family’s side, histories that are under-recognized and misrepresented are amplified.
The dialogues are documented through writing and photography. Participants are invited to write their first name and both parents’ family names on the public bathroom walls and mirrors. They are invited to photograph their reflection in the new name and to share the photographs with family members.
This performance was first shared in Florence, Italy for the Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation Conference. Later it was installed at The Grand in Los Angeles and commissioned for artistic programming at Mare Culturale Urbano in Milan, Italy