Student Work

  • Fine Arts (BFA)

    Sahar Sepahdari-Dalai

    Pepper House

    Over the past year, I have developed a family of characters called the Pepper Johnsons. I play both the roles of Pepper, the matriarch, and her boyfriend, Danny. Their child is a wind up Frankenstein toy named Sammy. I developed the Johnsons out of a desire to understand my invisibility as a Middle-Eastern American and being pushed into a white capitalist identity. In this installation, I furthered my exploration by pushing the concept of family as a fluid gender-neutral unit. The liberty of the roles played on fantasy, and participants were given the choice to play baby, mom, or dad. The scripts included, for example, talking in tongues to a Mitt Romney speech, giving birth, and being inspired by George Bush to go off and build war machines.The Pepper Johnsons world originally lived in video form, but I was interested in moving it outside of the screen. In the tradition of Brecht’s theatre, I didn’t want the audience to stand idly by. On the night of my thesis, Pepper directed the public in short scripted videos in the installation, which was a domestic space I had built for the family and filled with surreal sculptures that were part of the set. The Pepper Johnson home was at once a video installation, a video set, and a place for live performance art. I allowed three people from the public in at a time, and, after looking over the scripts, they acted under Pepper’s direction. The entirety of the space was green and blue screened. Those parts of the videos are currently being filled with YouTube and Google search images. This is a work in progress. Installation Videos:,