Fragment of Behjat Sadr’s notes
c. 1985Extract from the publication Behjat Sadr. Traces, Paris, Zamân Books, 2014.

When I pour the colour black onto large white or shimmering surfaces
When I cover the wide spatulas, razors and trowels in colours and draw forcefully in horizontal and vertical movements
And when I hear the sound of labour
When my hands and body become warm and tired from creating these forms
When the smell of paint in my small damp room makes me nauseous
When, recently, fearful of absorbing paint, I wear gloves and feel suffocated
When slowly, slowly, the forms I have created start to dry
I become calm. Is my calmness from tiredness or futility?
The composite surfaces I have created surround me
White gates or some barren land in front of the gate
I move the cardboard boxes and take up the sharp cutter
Further along there are the photographs
Hundreds of photographs that I took over thousands of days
They will be cut and connected
A city faraway and a river nearby
Borders disappear from all sides
Trees, water, air – everything meets the sharp edge of my razor
What a thrill, I am like a surgeon
And then, they will be joined together with my beloved roll of cellotape
Once again my sharp cutter opens and closes the constructed surfaces
Punches holes in the walls and moves columns
These assemblages, these connections, these interweavings sit within my imagined gates, doors and windows
Sometimes I paint the open space in front of the doors and gates
Pencil, pastel, a range of colours
I’m not playing artist
I want to play with the material, play with the techniques
It reminds me of children who get tired of their toys
And in their frustration want to throw them all out or break them
And I don’t dare. They fill every space in my life.