In 2018, a time where political and social marginalization has brought people together in a way originally intended to divide them, Iranian Dutch singer-songwriter Sevdaliza and her “Shahmaran” video is a timely, artfully and righteously provocative.
Collaborating with Ghanaian director Emmanuel Adjei for the visual behind the song of her Ison debut album, Sevdaliza interpolates a cosmically parallel universe of governmental oppression, materialism, despair and renewal through the Black lens, as told by a silent seven-minute narrative, soundtracked by nothing other than her soulful croons and formidable instrumentals.
Stretching across a strikingly vivid desert and earthy springs, “Shahmaran” opens up with a troop of enslaved Black men grudgingly hauling a gargantuan yacht by a tangle of battered ropes knotted and snarled around their sweat-drenched bodies. They are trudging through the desert ruins, which once was housed an ocean, in search of water. One man breaks free of the forced labor, and embarks on a solo adventure through the barren society.
After encountering macabre signs of death, destitution, and uninhabitable conditions, he enters a chasm where he faces ultimate temptations set before him: chromed whips, weapons and Sevdaliza, who is decked in royal, crystallized jewels. The man is weary before approaching her, and ends up dunking his head into a pool that lapses him into otherworldliness, of sorts.
A liberating testament to the deliberate maintenance of oppression over people of color, the visual of “Shahmaran” is a riveting tale that moves the immovable, and taps into a cognitive space that’s uncomfortable, but necessary.
"Carrying the burden of their ancestors most African American men today are still born into an environment that limits their freedom,” Adjei said of the visual, according to Paper magazine. “Drawn to the dream of having power and success they hold on to the image of a false like idea of autonomy and with it success."
Watch “Shahmaran” in the video below.