Guillaume Pascale et Leila Zelli, Substitute, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 90 min
metal scaffolding, printed silk scarf 50 "x50"

  • First shown as part of the exhibition “Le chant des oiseaux” at the Conseil des arts de Montréal, November 25, 2019 to February 14, 2020
  • Featured on the cover of issue 272 of Spirale magazine: "Iran : poésie / image”
  • Collection on loan from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

On September 2, 2019, Sahar Khodayari, known as the ‘girl in blue’, took her own life by setting herself on fire in front of a Tehran court. This lethal and radical gesture came in protest of the possible 6-month prison sentence Sahar was facing for wanting to attend a soccer match, a distraction forbidden to Iranian women. As artists and supporters of the Montreal Impact, Guillaume Pascale and Leila Zelli decided to pay tribute to the girl in blue with “Substitute”.

Exploiting the architecture of the Conseil des Arts de Montréal, they propose an audiovisual installation to configure the space of the former library in the manner of a sports arena.

In the video presented, Leila occupies empty bleachers near Saputo stadium on the day of a match the duo won't be attending. For 90 minutes, she becomes the substitute, to pay tribute to the memory of Sahar, who died for wanting to freely attend a soccer game. On the blue scarf hanging from the balcony inside the building, a color similar to the one worn by Sahar, is printed in Farsi an extract from a poem by Hamid Mosadegh:

"If I stand, if you stand everyone will stand. If I sit, if you sit, who will stand?"

In a stadium, Mosadegh's verses could be confused with the chants of a soccer fan. This tension between popular distraction and the desire to revolt is at work in the mezzanine of the Conseil Des Arts de Montréal, which for 90 minutes became the platform for a peaceful meditation practiced amid the din of an inner uprising.

Photos : Guillaume Pascale

The cover of number 272 of Spirale magazine: "Iran: poetry / image"

Collection on loan from the Musée national des beaux-arts du

The installation as part of the exhibition Vres la liberté
curated by Mojeanne Behzadi at Porjet Casa, February 23 to March 26
Éric Clément’s article in La Presse 
Photo : Galerie Pierre-François Ouellette