Born in Tehran, Iran, Reza Abdoh had, by age 14, moved to England and begun directing. After working with the National Youth Theater he moved to the United States, to attend the University of Southern California. Between 1986 and 1991 he worked extensively in video, and in 1992 he made an experimental film called The Blind Owl, which featured his partner, Brendan Doyle. By 1990 he had begun directing large-scale theater productions, and in 1991 he formed the New York and Los Angeles-based theater ensemble, Dar a Luz. Abdoh pulled together elements from multiple mediums, constructing experimental theater productions, which were often staged in unusual spaces like warehouses and abandoned buildings. One of his first major pieces, Father Was a Peculiar Man (1990), involved more than 50 performers and was staged across four blocks of New York's Meatpacking District. Other theatrical pieces included The Law of Remains (1992), Tight Right White (1993) and Quotations From a Ruined City (1994). Throughout his artistic career he confronted issues of race, class and AIDS. He died at the age of 32 in New York City.

I am an artist living with AIDS. I am a homosexual who was born in Iran. In my life I have had to work through problems of stigmatization and prejudice. When I discovered the power of the arts to express my pains and joys, it became clear to me that there would be no other way to work through the demons, except to fully embrace the process of creation. The work was not personal therapy but had a connection to other peoples’ realities. As I grow older and more mature, it becomes clearer to me that personal struggles and conflicts are connected with universal struggles and conflicts. It is this knowledge, ironically, that gives me the freedom to experiment in my work. — Reza Abdoh
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