Commons Forum #1
“Multiple worlds, histories, and stories—Is polyphonic art possible?”

  • Forum
© Saodat Ismailova

The number of refugees and otherwise displaced people has exceeded 100 million for the first time in human history. In these past six months, ongoing wars and conflicts have intensified in the Middle East and Europe, producing sharp divides in the art world as well. Enemy or ally. Good or evil. Victim or aggressor. Unstoppable violence fuels binary thinking that shatters channels for dialogue. There are even cases of people trying so hard to avoid the risk of falling outside this category of “good” that people’s rights and freedoms are suppressed.
How can artists approach artmaking today, in a world where it feels pointless to even ask, “Is art possible?” This forum will feature Nastaran Razawi Khorasani, who left Iran for Europe as a refugee during her childhood, and Saodat Ismailova, who films her home country of Uzbekistan, where the Silk Road, Islamic world, and former Soviet Union intersect. Listening to their voices, how might we access multiple worlds and their histories, and the voices and beings that spill out from them?

Panelists | Saodat Ismailova (Filmmaker, Artist), Nastaran Razawi Khorasani (Artist), Hikaru Fujii (Artist)
Moderator | Chiaki Soma (Director of Theater Commons Tokyo)


Saodat Ismailova
Saodat Ismailova lives and works in Tashkent and Paris. She is recognized as an important voice of the first generation of Central Asian artists who came of age in the post-Soviet era. She studied at the Tashkent State Art Institute and Le Fresnoy in France. In 2004 her documentary “Aral. Fishing in an Invisible Sea” (which she made with Carlos Casas) won Best Documentary at the Turin Film Festival. Her feature film “40 Days of Silence” (Chilla, 2014), supported by Cinefoundation, premiered at Berlinale Forum and was selected for Cannes Film Festival. In 2013 she presented her first video installation at the Venice Biennale, and in 2022 her work was selected for “The Milk of Dreams”, the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In response to her selection for documenta fifteen, she initiated research group Davra to support, develop and empower voices from Central Asia. Works by Ismailova are in the collections of museums including Centre Pompidou, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Almaty Museum of Modern Art.

© Rinat Karimov

Nastaran Razawi Khorasani
Nastaran Razawi Khorasani is a graduate of Maastricht Institute of Performative Arts. In 2014 she won the Gouden Krekel award for most impressive stage performance. In 2020 she was nominated for the award for dance for young audiences of the Nederlandse Dansdagen. Her show “Songs for no one” twice received the BNG Bank Theater award (in 2020 and 2021) and was selected for the 2022 Flemish TheaterFestival and Theater der Welt in Frankfurt-Offenbach. In 2023 she was nominated for the Gieskes-Strijbis Podium Prize.

© Julian Maiwald

Hikaru Fujii
Hikaru Fujii’s practice is based on the notion that artistic production implies a close relationship with society and history. Mainly in the form of video installation, he creates work that responds to contemporary social issues through detailed research and fieldwork on unique cultures and histories of various countries and regions. Fujii organizes a place for discussion–intersections for interdisciplinary and artistic collaboration between specialists from diverse fields. His methodology links the present with the past in multilayered ways, while structurally critiquing the domains of history and society that remain invisible. In recent years, he has participated in the 10th Asia Pacific Triennale (2021), the Mori Art Museum 20th Anniversary Exhibition “WORLD CLASSROOM” (2023), and received the “Tokyo Contemporary Art Award 2020-2022” in 2020.

© Shunta Ishinami_WORKSIGHT

Chiaki Soma
Before establishing Arts Commons Tokyo in 2014, Soma was the inaugural Program Director of Festival/Tokyo, where she served from spring 2009 to 2013. She has produced or curated global projects that transect categories of theater, contemporary art, and community-engaged art. She was the recipient of the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France’s Minister of Culture in 2015. Since 2017, she has served as the Chairperson of the Theater Commons Tokyo Executive Committee, as well as its Director. She was the Curator for the Aichi Triennale 2019. She is the recipient of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs’ 71st Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize in 2021. Since 2021, she has been the General Producer of Toyooka Theater Festival 2021, the Curator of Aichi Triennale 2022, and the Program Director of Theater der Welt 2023 in Germany.



March 3rd [Sun]/16:00-18:00

Performance times

120 min.


Goethe-Institut Tokyo
7-5-56 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052

How to participate

Free / Booking essential.

Book now


English (with Japanese interpretation)


Organized by Theater Commons Tokyo Executive Committee
Venue Support | Goethe-Institut Tokyo