out-of-office: haleh chinikar (english)

Summertime! The international house of literature Passa Porta will briefly close its doors from 20 July to 15 August. We have entrusted the contents of our - and your ? - auto reply assistant to 12 different authors, in various languages and genres. Their out-of-office messages, including their personal reading tips, will be unleashed on you in four episodes over the next few weeks. Follow the series and use your favourite message for your own out-of-office!

Born in 1986 in Rasht, Iran, the artist and poet Haleh Chinikar has been living in Brussels since 2007. The body, memory, language and textile are the pillars of her creations. She is the author of Où est ma maison? (2021, La Place eds.) This is the English translation of her auto reply.


The Sound of Danger

I don't know all the poems in the world. I have not learned all the local dances.

My arms can't carry a hundred kilos of red apples. I can't speak all the languages of the world. For example, I don’t know how to say "I'm not afraid to be alone, but being alone beside you makes me anxious." in Walloon, Maltese, a small rural language from South America or in a language from the far reaches of Asia.

I don't know what it's like to love the Ukrainian language. I also don't know how to say in Arabic, "I hate the separations caused by war." I think about how the lines drawn on the imaginary papers determine the fate of the "citizens" of each side at that moment in history.

How can someone dance beyond the temporality of their love story because they were born on the right side of the imaginary lines and another to reach the loved ones...they will not reach the loved ones but will experience the "sound of danger" and forced migrations.

I stand here. Here, somewhere in between. I feel the flow of time. Time affects the particles of my body at every moment and I experience this effect in my mother tongue.

I get on the train and the "sound of danger" disappears. I leave all borders and the unknown in the first station. Lighter than before in all the languages of the world, I live the local dances rhyming with all the written poems and all the unborn ones, and I will pick hundreds of kilos of red apples from the peace trees.

Haleh Chinikar


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Illustration: copyright Valentine Lafitte and Passa Porta, 2022