The Zoleikha series refers to the Biblical story of Yousef and Zoleikha (or Joseph and the Potiphar’s wife). This narrative is a moralizing tale about a married woman who tries to seduce her slave and is damned for her attempts. These videos deal with the expression of gender in Iranian society by relating the biblical parable to the suppression of sexuality and gender expression in present day Iran. Footage from pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema is overdubbed with recordings of ululating women (a long, wavering, high-pitched sound commonly heard both at weddings and funerals) as well as a young child and her mother imitating an interrogation by the Iranian modesty police. In both parts the age of the Zoleikha character is unclear first appearing as a young child with the voices of many older women, and then as an adult speaking with the voice of a child. This conflation relates to the government’s attempts to arrest sexual development and force the populace, particularly women, into denying their own nature. Both the myth and Iran’s modesty laws represent the celebration of sex and violence to instill notions of appropriate behavior and gender expression by punishing those who attempt to transgress societal norms.

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