Choreography: Jodie Randolph in collaboration with the dancers
Direction: Parisa Ghaderi and Jodie Randolph
“The impossible Room” is a performance project inspired by a photo showing a man and his wife on one side, and his parents on the other side of a worn black line. The location is Haskell Free Library and Opera House, in Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont. The Haskell family purposefully built the building along the border in 1904, to promote cross-border interaction and friendship. The thick black line runs beneath the seats of the opera house and diagonally across the center of the library's reading room to mark the Canada–US border. This venue has become a meeting point for people who can’t cross borders due to multiple reasons.
Borders are not static places. They change with the mood on one, or both, sides of the line. It is been more challenging for Iranian families to get a US visa because of Iran-US political relationship over the past 40 years which has gotten worse by the new administration’s travel ban. This has affected the visa regulation for not only students but also their parents who wish to visit their children while they are studying in the US. The Iranian students are often granted a single entry visa, meaning every time they leave the US, they have to re-apply for a return visa which may or may not be granted. Many families try to be with their loved ones for their graduation, wedding, newborn baby, or life emergencies, but it is not the case for Iranians. Therefore, they are seeking other ways to see each other even if it is only for a short period and under surveillance. The Haskell Library may be the only place where the family members get to see each other in person if neither is permitted entry into Canada and the US, respectively.
In this age of geopolitical tension and talk of walls, this performance is a reminder that borders are fictions created by humans that are precisely as real, and as menacing, as we choose to make them.