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Mother River is an online portal featuring a series of one-minute videos, each presenting a meditative journey dedicated to a river. Focusing on rivers that hold spiritual and cultural significance from across the world, Behbahani maps a transnational story of drastically changing ecologies marked by exploitation and displacement. The video series features Behbahani’s performative drawing acts with text performed by theater artist Tara Ahmadinejad and compositions by drummer/composer Maciek Schejbal performed by the Afro-Polka Ensemble, opening sites for reflection. The text is inspired by the poetry of Etel Adnan, Dionne Brand, Anne Carson, Joy Harjo, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Anne Waldman.

Created by Bahar Behbahani
Music composed by Maciek Schejbal
Music performed by the Afro-Polka Ensemble featuring Maciek Schejbal (drums), Jerome Harris (bass), Anders Nilsson (guitar), and Kenny Wessel (guitar)
Text performed by Tara Ahmadinejad
Commissioned by Asia Society New York

Click on thumbnails to access the videos

Olifants River

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone

— from A Litany for Survival, Audre Lorde

Ohangaron River

I perceive in passing
a crack in the
texture of the day

there are fewer and fewer
sailors, the sea waits
for the end of the living

— from Time, Etel Adnan

Ohio River

By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather...Just weather.

— from Beloved, Toni Morrison

Yellow River

If you wake up too early listen for it.

— from Town of the Dragon Vein, Plainwater, Anne Carson

Mahakam River

Awake in a giant night
is where I am
          There is a river where my soul,
hungry as a horse drinks beside me

— from Giant Night, Anne Waldman

Odra River

I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:

Imagine what would it be like to dance close together
In this land of water and knowledge. . .

— from Speaking Tree, Joy Harjo

Rancheria River

the sea in the night, that part which
the lights outside the Dome make clear,
is warm
warmer than the air, and the water
becomes something other than water.

— from Chronicles of the Hostile Sun, Military Occupations, Dionne Brand

Indus River

We forget about the spaciousness
above the clouds

but it's up there. The sun's up there too.

— from Over the Weather, Naomi Shihab Nye