Maria de Los Angeles

Shoja Azari   |   2003   |   3 min   |   Excerpt

The film is a behind-the-scenes look at the video installation Tooba (2002), by Shirin Neshat. For months, the artist, the director and their collaborators wandered around Mexico, passing through villages around Oaxaca, searching for the “tree of paradise” and the work’s female protagonist. But no tree met expectations, and casting for the right actress proved arduous. After many discussions, long road trips and an endless series of failed attempts, the lone tree finally appeared and the troupe discovered Maria De Los Angeles. In a light, poetic manner, Shoja Azari tells the story of how the film was made, of the work done with the local population and the encounter with the extraordinary figure who incarnates the symbolic woman in Neshat’s video.

Shoja Azari was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1958. As a teenager, Azari experimented with short films, and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution involved himself in underground culture – literature, theater, and politics. After moving to New York in 1983, he received a Master’s degree in Psychology from New York University. He met artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat in 1997, and they have developed a body of collaborative work, which includes video installations, short films and a multimedia theater piece.

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