Iranian Artist Ali Moini’s “My Paradoxical Knives” at EMPAC Cancelled Due to Visa Processing Delays

Troy, NY — Due to visa processing delays stemming from current federal immigration policy, Iranian artist Ali Moini will be unable to travel to the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for his scheduled November 9 performance of My Paradoxical Knives. To honor Moini’s work in his absence, EMPAC will be hosting a reception on November 9, featuring the set of My Paradoxical Knives and a conversation with Moini (via Skype), collaborator Fred Rodriguez, and curator Ashley Ferro-Murray.

Since spring of 2017, EMPAC has sought travel visas for Ali Moini and Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, both Iranian nationals (living in Paris and Berlin respectively) and highly respected artists within the international community. Both applications are currently tied up by processing delays at the US Department of State.

November 9 would have marked the US premiere of Moini’s solo dance My Paradoxical Knives. Drawing on Persian cultural tradition, the performance includes poetry by the 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi and movements reminiscent of the Sufi whirling dervish. Diverging from this tradition, Moini performs in a costume made of straps that connect metal knives to his body like appendages or prostheses. As Moini spins and sings, the knives ascend and point toward the audience as if to ask: What happens when poems are cut loose and become dangerous? What is a safe distance between the audience and the performer? How close can you get to someone who comes from a different culture?


Moini has a background in lyrical singing and music composition and studied theater in Tehran at Soureh High Educational University and as a member of Mehr Theater Group. He also studied at Forum Dança Lisbon and has a masters degree from the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine. He has shown his work internationally in Tehran, Lisbon, Paris, and New York City, at theaters including Theatre National de Chaillot and New York Live Arts.

To honor Moini’s work, EMPAC will be installing the set of My Paradoxical Knives in the 7th floor lobby and will be hosting a dialogue regarding Moini’s work and the current political situation. Moini will also join over video conference. There will be a reception at the event. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, please visit

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities and technologies, and by breathing the same air. EMPAC hosts artists and researchers to produce and present new work in a building designed with sophisticated architectural and technical infrastructure. Four exceptional venues and studios enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between ourselves, technology, and the worlds we create around us. EMPAC is an icon of the New Polytechnic, a new paradigm for cross-disciplinary research and learning at Rensselaer, the nation’s oldest technological research university.

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