ABSENCE is created from a poem by Norwan. Norwan is the pseudonym for an Afghan woman poet, a refugee who has come to safety through International Cities Of Refuge Network (ICORN). Norwan’s true name and identity must remain a secret—her name uttered in our context (in our town) could put her relatives’ lives in danger.
The poem, “I am blame my name is woman,” was first published in a local newspaper blog on March 7, 2011. Norwan’s poem is a desperate cry from the voiceless, raped, beaten and tortured Afghan woman. It is addressed to the women of the western world, who celebrate their own success.
I embroider the 27 verses in the fabric of old curtains and sometimes sing the poem aloud. Each letter is sewn in Hardanger, stiching like my French grandmother used to do.
The length of the poem becomes more visible each time I perform this piece. The performance will continue until the whole poem is embroidered.
“It takes time to free oneself from the trauma of abuse, to fetch resources from within oneself so to become a respectable person again and learn to stand against and keep away from any abuse, from the other as well as from one’s own.” — ABTffn