Stills from Incurable Experiences, 2012


She has never been easy to discuss.
She has never been easy to speak about. She was always distancing herself. She was always leaving. Even when she began to settle somewhere, her mind began to prepare for somewhere else. She did not want to be known in a way. She never wanted to be accepted as something you could describe easily. The life was meant to happen and then disappear. For her it was not possible to exist past one’s existence.

In the afterlife of a person they no longer would be who they were but a new incarnation of an idea of that person or being. No longer a reality but a projection. This to her was not necessarily a bad thing but its result led her to live a certain kind of life. One that had no interest in linearity, continuity, reflection, or collection. She moved forward and made every effort to avoid leaving footprints. But this is impossible. And so she could not be defined. But she could be described. But with each description lie layers of fiction.

Each teller and re-teller of her life and her stories imbues their own character, their own presence, their desires and their projections onto to the life of another. No one can exist as they are—only as a combination of a past memory fading and a present one.

She began her life here, she began her life there. There were many beginnings and many endings. But connected they become a portrait of someone we all knew. To know someone is to see one part them, one part yourself and the two never can be separated.

I work with photographs, costume, sculpture, video, and text as material for engagement, storytelling, and exchange. I construct a stage on which to perform a history and to ask questions about how we exist, how we look and how information is assembled.

By deconstructing the stories of various lives into its constituent elements, I can then consider the various possibilities for its reconstruction. A new image is set on a stage where private imagination is combined with public and political history. The mystery results from the invisible gaps of a context that we no longer perceive, inviting projection and participation. As the story commences to unfold it is characterized by pieces that frame it and pieces that lie deeply buried within it.

This documentary is the constructed portrait of a woman. The stories told are mostly factual and yet their composite creates something between fact and fiction.


Leila Hekmat (born in Los Angeles) graduated from Parsons with B.A. in photography, graduated from Bard College with an MFA in photography. She lives and works in Berlin and New York.