In the midst of mounting pressure to join an anti-regime uprising, Badaskhan discovers coded messages from their ancestors through a mysterious plant growing in their safe house.
Inciting Realities & Storyworld:
Ensouled is an intergenerational narrative that weaves magical realism and speculative fiction with histories of resistance movements and SWANA (Southwest Asia, North Africa) culture. The idea evolved out of a collaboration through Kalik Arts with lee williams boudakian called World of Q, featuring distinct iterations that revolve around a central storyworld. Hackers, healers, and cultural workers have formed an underground movement to resist totalitarian erasure of ancestral practices and memory. As part of this storyworld, Ensouled foregrounds the survival of communities that are most often underrepresented in mainstream media and visions into the futures of those who have survived and thrived since time immemorial.
In a near future where state-sanctioned violence has nearly wiped out an entire generation of resistors, elders, and keepers-of-ancestral knowledge, Ensouled follows a solitary botanist and coder (Badaskhan) who translates frequencies from the plant-life growing in their greenhouse and lab. As pressure mounts to join an ongoing underground resistance movement, Badaskhan buries further into their work as they become obsessed with recording and decoding unusual frequencies from a newly sprouted plant. The frequencies slowly reveal themselves to be secret correspondences between Badaskhan’s ancestors, a group of resistors and practitioners of magic who survived on their own terms in Ottoman Turkey at the turn of the 20th century. Badaskhan, who has long turned away from their family history and Armenian ancestry, is now forced to contend with a resurfacing of painful childhood memories. Weaved throughout this intergenerational narrative are glimpses of an ethereal, simulated dimension in which a mysterious narrator (Araxi) discovers their own existence whilst transcribing chronicles of the lives of Badaskhan’s ancestors.
Ensouled is an interdisciplinary, iterative storytelling project that blends magical realism, visionary fiction, and ancestral reclamation. It takes shape through an illustrated book (in collaboration with artist Lorik Khodaverdian), an immersive installation, a multi-phase film project, and a transmedia platform.
Special thanks to the Canada Arts Council & Ontario Arts Council for supporting this project.