Maria Lloyd is from Oslo, Norway and trained at the ÉCOLE INTERNATIONALE DE THÉÂTRE JACQUES LECOQ in Paris. Maria has also lived in Brighton in the UK, where for 13 years she made dance films and was an integral part of setting up The Nightingale Theatre .
Maria is an interdisciplinary artist but when asked to choose her favourite medium to express herself with Maria claims being a film director in Norway is where her heart is.
We chose Maria’s submission as it is not just the story of Maria’s art she has put forward. This piece is a collaboration between Mahsa Vahdat, Tord Gustavsen and Maria Lloyd as well as photographer Tahmineh Monzavi.
This work explores a larger issue in its making. The issue of equal rights for women and in Iran this is a serious topic which needs to be highlighted to the world to better understand the lack of rights women have around the world.
“Criticism by conservative clerics over women’s participation in musical performances both as instrumentalists and as vocalists has been intensifying over the last year. In 13 provinces across Iran women were banned from live performances, and over the past few months, several concerts with female participants have been cancelled or forced to eliminate their female members in order to perform. Such cancellations did not take place even under the previous conservative administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and reflect hard-liners’ increased assertiveness, especially regarding women’s participation in the public sphere, since the election of the centrist Hassan Rouhani in June 2013.” (Row over Solo Singing of Women Grows in Iran, FEBRUARY 13, 2015 from International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)
Maria tells us how she got involved with this amazing project and collaboration:
“I wanted to travel the silk road and film calligraphy in different languages and find poems along the road. Trying to connect with people and drawing a line through different cultures and religions. Interfaith is a central part of my life and I got a grant to go to Iran one year ago. My aim was to film the old poetry masters being written, but meeting the contemporary artists living and working in Iran became more important to me.. Mahsa Vedat the Iranian singer sings poems by the classical Persian poets Hafez and Rumi and the text gets interpreted in a symbolic and political way. Art becomes a vital way to share metaphors.”
Maria has not been able to screen the music video in Iran for the Iranian people but was allowed to give a special viewing at the Norwegian embassy in Iran for an intimate invited audience. The video has not been screened in Europe yet, but we are hoping that interest will spark with a growing interest in this inspiring collaboration.
“I love the film medium because it can travel and be distributed easily without me, I love when my work is also screened on TV as my aim is to communicate with the masses.
The video is now on You Tube and it is the singers (Mahsa Vedat) wish that as many people around the world get to see it.”
A life ring is my longing for you, drowning, as I am, in wine
Advise the barrel to keep the air locked, for the tavern is in ruins
The beloved is gone and in my tearful eyes
Her image can only be drawn in vanishing lines
Wake up my eyes for there is great peril
In this onslaught of sleep of mine
The mountains and plains are full and verdant
This world is but a passing current, let us waste no time
The music is recorded by Martin Abrahamsen
Produced by Erik Hillestad
The process of creating the music video and documenting their experience was very difficult. Maria explains:
“This process was quite hard, as planning a shoot in Iran from Norway was not easy. Firstly singing in the public is not allowed for woman but in the end we met the most amazing photographer Tahmineh”
Tahmineh Monzavi is an Iranian photographer. Monzavi got her bachelor degree from Azad art & architecture university Of Tehran. In 2005 , as a documentary photographer , she began her artistic life. She also started making documentary films in 2009. Her main topics of interest are social conflicts and the young generation of Iran.
Monzavi’s vision was changed after a month of being imprisoned; she started looking at her society differently. after a year of not working she began to work on a project called “All about me; nicknamed Queen maker”. in which she points out the deep feelings of womanhood and womanly dreams.
Maria tells us about Tahmineh Monzavi:
“She has taken pictures of prostitutes and drug addicts in Tehran, and has spent one month in prison because of her art and pictures when she was 23 years old. We ended up filming on the roof top terrace and in the mountains far away from people.”
Maria explains that in her video of Mahsa the visual aspect was to convey and express the content of the poem as well as the feeling of how the music can travel across countries. Mahsa produces her music in Norway and travels to many countries with her music. This song is from her first solo album and due to the need for cross country involvement to get the music produced and composed Maria thought it important to show Mahsa’s connection to the Norwegian piano player Tord Gustavsen who met through music across borders.
“I like mixing live action and stills in my films. I was lucky to work with such top artists on this project who gave their time for free.”
Maria is influenced by Bjørk and is inspired by her music videos and finds them playful and sincere.
“I love the fact she can reach a huge audience and be experimenting within her art form. I love travelling and meeting new people and working with people in completely different situations than me. Each time I get on a plane or a train I find a love for the world and I always meet interesting people.”
As this campaign is in aid of women and the issues they face around the world we wanted to ask Maria her thoughts on Feminism and women’s rights in general.
“I was brought up in a very feminist time in the seventies in Oslo, so in fact I reacted and rebelled by getting married very early and taking my husbands name Lloyd which is quite rare in Norway at least.
But after being in Iran and seeing the systems put in place there and how they are implementing new rules that will make it even worse for woman. I can call myself a feminist , I get inspired by Facebook pages like My Stealthy Freedom . I think small steps done with great love is the way foreword.”
We asked what made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“I want as many people as possible to see the music video we have made and it is an on-line project so your non-profit seems to fit and ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL‘s mission uses the internet for spreading the word and feeling. We are one.”
Maria uses her talent and art to unite people and brings people together on a simple human level. This is why ASLI chose Maria’s project as it was a wonderful submission as it incorporated many artists coming together for a greater cause and for the love of art and expression. Using art to engage, educate and express our world. With important messages art can truly change and save lives and Maria, Mahsa and Tahmineh Monzavi are three female artists changing our world for the better. Celebrating them and their work is a pleasure and an inspiration. Maria sums up her feelings about her role as an artist.
“When I think of travelling the silk road and all the religions that are along the way, it makes me heavy. When I think of finding a poem along the road and meeting artists in each place, it makes me excited.
Art is my way of connecting to people in the most human and beautiful way.
It is vital and makes me feel alive. It is important to share it so we can all unite.”
Maria is working on a new project for TV focusing on visiting children and listening to their imagination and stories, from different parts of the world. Hoping to show a unity through these imaginings of children and showing a common language in creative thinking. The project is called «Inside my head» and Maria explains why it is such an amazing project.
“I believe art gives children ways of expressing themselves that often are overseen by the facts and figures in our society.”
Maria is also working on two new film projects to do with interfaith and the love between a blind dancer who dances with a blind librarian.
Maria would like you all to share the music video and this story and also would like you to spare a few minutes and visit Amnesty International UK and support the campaign Iran: Demand the release of Atena, jailed for speaking out for a 28-year-old Atena Farghadani who is an artist. She is also a prisoner – detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison for producing art work critical of the government.
Maria’s last statement:
“Iran is a place that needs a lot of attention and work for human rights for woman. Please take a small step by clicking on the amnesty link . Small actions helps.”
Here is Maria’s WEBSITE