Traditionally, art and ancient literature has portrayed women in a limited set of relational roles, like mother, daughter, caretaker and wife. In The Act of Gordafarid, the Female Warrior, artist Yasmin Sinai takes us beyond these traditional roles by bringing to life Gordafarid, the only female warrior included in The Book of Kings, also known as The Epic of Kings. The poem collection was written around 1000 A.D. by Persian poet Ferdowsi.
Sinai became fascinated with Gordafarid, who is one of just a few heroines in the saga, although she’s the only female warrior. As in traditional literature, she plays a number of relational roles like mother and partner, but in addition, also a warrior. She defends her father’s castle and fights for her own rights and desires.
She fights Sohrab, an Iranian hero who leads the Turanian army. Because of Gordafarid’s bravery, the Turanian army was delayed in marching against Persia. All Iranian women can look up to her as a symbol of both bravery and wisdom.
Sinai used paper and cardboard to create the installation pieces for her exhibit, interpreting the mythical story in a way today’s generation can understand. Paper and cardboard are not only versatile, as Gordafarid herself was, fitting into the different roles she has to play, but they are also delicate but strong, smooth but structured and firm but translucent, according to the description of her exhibition on the Courtyard Gallery’s website. Sinai has favored paper and cardboard for most of her career.
Sinai wanted to bring back the ancient Persian storytelling and performance tradition and translate it for the 21st century. To do this, Sinai created three scenes for the installation with each one showing Gordafarid in a different role.
In Sinai’s collection, Gordafarid is shown first as an actress or puppet riding her horse. In the second scene, she is shown with different masks that show the various men who are in her life. In the third, we see her in her warrior role, which has again been translated into a relational role as she is depicted being not only a warrior but also a leader to a group of male warriors, demonstrating her unique relationship with them as their leader.
The Act of Gordafarid, the Female Warrior is in exhibition through April 20 at the Courtyard Gallery. This is Sinai’s third exhibit at the Courtyard. Sinai is based in Dubai.