Sadaf by Lyndsy Welgos

History of Heat


With her breakthrough ragga track Stillness in 2016, Sadaf, reared on violin lessons, became an in-demand producer, vocalist, DJ and performance artist. Her hypnotic music is constrained and lush, held up by the industrial noise that fed her as a young performer in Montréal, and soaked in free jazz, reggaeton and Middle Eastern music, deservedly launching her into the New York club stratosphere.

Sadaf’s durational performance is centred around her recent album, History of Heat (2019, Blueberry Records), constantly wavering between abstraction and lyricism, contemplating the disparate emotional affects inherent in noise, speech and silence. Drawing on global influences such as traditional Middle Eastern instrumentation and vocal technique, free-jazz noise violin, deconstructed Dembow and reggaeton beats, and digital hardcore tendencies, the performance aims to create a cinematic sauna of sound, images and movement. Heat, since the infinitesimal thermodynamic demons of the 19th century and the relentless thermal monsoons of megalithic server farms, has been our historiography. What then is a history of heat but an animal that breaks free from those earlier abstractions, inexorably expressing its own newfound instincts?’ (Alex Boland)

Sadaf by Lyndsy Welgos

Sadaf H Nava (Sadaf) is an Iranian-born, New York City-based composer and visual artist whose multidisciplinary interventions include sound, film, painting, performance and text. Sadaf’s layered and cinematic visuals, sonics and confrontational performative tactics oscillate between opacity and narrative. Her work upends the inward-looking affect inherent to contemporary performance, subverting the languages of auto-fiction and the artist/​muse. These original compositions comprise intuitive and clashing material inspired by contemporary global archaeologies of sound, always flirting with noise. Her painting and other visual work is similarly improvised, concentrated on self-portraiture, fragmented narratives and re-enacted memory. Exhibition and presentation venues include MoMA PS1, Performa and 9th Berlin Biennale among others. Her first full-length LP History of Heat (Blueberry Records) came out in 2019 and debut EP SHELL (Outside Insight) in 2017.


Sadaf. Photo by Lyndsy Welgos.

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