A Father’s Lullaby is the name of an expansive ongoing research and storytelling project established by the new media artist Rashin Fahandej. Working with the formerly incarcerated, as well as her undergraduate students, the project highlights the role of fathers in raising children, and creates a space for paradigm shifting and social equity through a process of community co-creation.
This season we’ve partnered with the New Media Caucus, an international non-profit formed to promote the development and understanding of new media art. We’re interviewing five new media artists working today, both individually and at a live in-person event we held in February. This season of the podcast is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts grants for arts projects.
In an early podcast episode we struggled with a question of whether artists can make a social impact with their work, or whether their practices serves primarily in a role as a poetic or powerful symbolic action. More bluntly, can artists working with contemporary technology dismantle tools of oppression and injustice?
What is so powerful about Rashin’s work as an artist is that she’s addressing both of these areas at once. Her work is symbolic, but it’s also itself a form of social justice action. One way this happens is by bringing together communities of people, and specifically in A Father’s Lullaby, she’s bringing together incarcerated fathers, children, and others, not just to raise awareness of over-incarceration but also in a support process for the fathers she works with.
Rashin says her community co-creation process is inherent, essential to the work. And her choice of tools is intentional, both age-old processes of storytelling and singing as well as using latest-generation technology. She discusses using 360 video recording, volumetric video, and recordings of fathers singing lullabies to their childen – these recordings allow the fathers to see themselves reflected back, to exercise their own creativity, and to develop or deepen new forms of intimacy with their own children.
Rashin brings her own undergraduate students into the process, who work with the particpants of A Father’s Lullaby. She is presenting a model and process for social justice work through new media art and technology. They’ll be able to build off this work in transformative narrative storytelling, bringing their own vision and approaches in the years ahead.
image description: Rashin standing with crossed arms in dappled light in front of a wall of portraits of fathers.
Rashin Fahandej is an Iranian-American futurist, immersive storyteller, and cultural activist. Fahandej’s artistic initiatives are multiyear experimental laboratories for collective radical reimaginations of social systems, using counter-narratives of care and community co-creation to design equitable futures. Her projects center on marginalized voices and the role of media, technology, and public collaboration in generating emotional connections to drive social change.
This season of the podcast is produced with the New Media Caucus for New Rules: Conversations with New Media Artists. You can find out more by visiting www.newmediacaucus.org. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
Listen and read the full podcast here: https://www.artistsandhackers.org/rashin-fahandej