The Quietus | News | Laibach announces collaboration with Iranian composers

Laibach announced a major new work to be produced in collaboration with a number of Iranian composers.

Called Alamoutit is inspired by a story of 11th century Persia, told by the Slovenian writer Vladimir Bartol in a novel published in 1938. The original story was that of the Persian struggle against the Christian Crusader invasions of the medieval period , and was rewritten in the context of resistance to fascism in pre-World War II Europe.

The music for Alamout was written by Iranian composers Idin Samimi Mofakham and Nima A. Rowshan, who worked alongside Laibach and Slovenian composer Luka Jamnik. Laibach made three trips to Tehran to work on the piece, involving lengthy discussions about peace and art with Iran’s culture ministry. “It’s a very difficult project because a lot of it relies on diplomacy,” Laibach’s Ivan Novak said at the London launch of Alamout this morning (July 12). “We said that art is diplomacy that requires fanaticism, and that’s exactly what we do. Diplomacy is becoming an important part of our projects these days, we live in very complex times.”

Alamout will make its debut in a former crusader castle in Ljubljana on September 5-6, 2022. For performances, the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra will be joined by the vocal group Human-Voice Ensemble from Tehran, the Gallina Women’s Choir and AccordiOna, a female accordion orchestra which will be supported by other accordionists. No fewer than 200 musicians will be conducted by Iranian conductor Navid Gohari, and if permission is granted, then a performance is expected to take place in Tehran with a local orchestra in 2023.

Give context to the Alamout story, Laibach and their a/politics organization partners released a statement saying, “The central figure is Hassan-i Sabbah, the charismatic religious and political leader of the Nizari Ismailis and the founder of a mysterious military formation known as the name of Assassins, whose name is still feared and respected today.Hassan-i Sabbāh is a self-proclaimed prophet who waged a holy war against the Seljuk Empire from his abode – Alamut Castle. Alamout looked at the mechanics of propaganda around the time Bartol, a Slovenian author, witnessed the rise of fascism in Trieste, Italy, where he lived.”

The group’s Ivan Novak added that in Slovenia the story has become a metaphor for the fight against fascism. “He wrote this book about events in 11th century Persia, and it’s an incredibly strong connection, and something we just need to do in Tehran and also in Slovenia,” he said. “Hassan-i Sabbah is more alive than ever; he’s more relevant than ever. We’re usually not just interested in touring, we’re interested in projects like this, so-called ‘impossible projects'”.

Alamout will also be the subject of a documentary by Sašo Podgoršek, who directed the Laibach tour film in 2006 Divided States of America.

In Jennifer Lucy Allan’s recent article about Laibach’s performance at a/political’s Foundry art space in the south of France, Novak talked about Alamout. Of that exchange, Allen wrote that Novak “says the people they explained the project to asked — as they did with North Korea — why Laibach is playing. Do they support the regime? No, they don’t support the regime,” says Novak, but “support the people who have decided to stay in Iran, despite everything”.

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