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[Virtual] Scholars@Hallwalls: Millie Chen, “Silk Road Songbook: Notes on Making Art Under Censorship and Globalization”

February 5 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Where there is limited freedom of expression, how can one creatively and collectively mourn, remember, persist, and declare? Songs have the capacity to turn sorrow and outrage into fortitude and optimism. Silk Road Songbook, made in collaboration with Arzu Ozkal, is a socially driven, multidisciplinary art project that weaves song into landscape, challenging censorship and Orientalist exoticism. Grass roots songs channeling local voices concerning land, sovereignty, and cultural identity are created in collaboration with artists in communities along an ancient trade route spanning Eurasia between Xi’an and Istanbul. For each place, voices are the dynamic driving force; land is the anchor.

Millie will present her talk live on Zoom with a Q+A session following.

Millie has shared a recipe from her travels working on Silk Road Songbook.

I first tasted this delicious Persian dish in Isfahan, Iran during an SRS research trip. The recipe below is quoted from a family recipe book, “Taste of My Land: an Introduction to Persian Cuisine” by Nezhat Yaghoubi, which I picked up at a museum near Isfahan. (I don’t expect anyone to make this dish to coincide with the talk – enjoy it at any time!)

Khoresh-e-Ghormeh Sabzi (Herb Stew)


250 grams Stewing meat (mutton)

½ cup Kidney/pinto bean

700 grams Fresh herbs (parsley, leek, fenugreek, spinach)

3 Dried limes

Cooking and frying oil (as needed)

Salt, turmeric (as needed)

1 tablespoon Tomato paste (optional)


  1. Clean and cut the mutton into 3 cm cubes and wash them.
  2. Clean and dice the onion.
  3. Wash the kidney beans and soak in a bowl of water for 1-2 hours.
  4. Clean, wash and mince the herbs.
  5. It is usual to fry the herbs in very little oil (but this part is optional).
  6. Wash the dried limes and soak them for half an hour.


Put the meat pieces in a medium pot, sauté them and after 3 minutes, add chopped onion and brown the meat for 5 minutes. Add turmeric and tomato paste (for a better color) and mix them. Now, add the minced herbs and let them fry for 2-3 minutes over a low heat. Add water and kidney beans at the same time. Now, boil the mixture on a high temperature, then lower the temperature and simmer with the lid on. This stew takes about 3-4 hours to cook completely. Half an hour before serving, make some holes on dried limes with a fork, then add them and salt to the pot. Serve the stew with rice (Polow) and garnish with Saffron.

About Millie Chen, Professor, Art

Millie’s visual, audio and performative works are intended to interrupt habits of viewing. Materials and methodologies are contingent on the needs of the moment, but at the core of her projects are social inquiry and the use of sensory modes of perception in the generation of knowledge. Millie’s artwork has been shown across North and South America, East Asia and Europe. Her work is present in numerous public collections, and she has produced a number of permanent public art commissions. Her writing has appeared in publications in the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and China.

Silk Road Songbook is funded, in part, by:



February 5
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Humanities Institute