Shahrzad Nazarpour in conversation with Gianna Virginia Prein
Gianna Virginia Prein: Did the rehearsal processes continue to have an effect on you, and if so, how?
Shahrzad Nazarpour: The minimalist and slow movements remained in my body.
GVP: How has this deceleration affected you?
SN: It has made me more patient. The rehearsals have taught me to pay more attention to my surroundings. I have come to understand the sentence ‘less is more’ and I can apply it. Before that, it was too abstract for me. I wasn’t influenced only by what I learned from Ian Kaler though, but also by working with the other performers. I controlled my ego on stage as a performer and as Shahrzad to focus on collaboration and composition. We were five performers of different origins, but all I saw were the people in this collaboration, not their different nationalities. Working with the horses was also a very special and new experience for me. I’ve never had a relationship with animals, I’ve never even had any pets.
GVP: Has your practice changed since you came to Austria from Iran? Are there things you cannot do over here or back there?
SN: I had problems with the Iranian regime. My work was mostly aimed against the oppression of the mullah. Since I came to Vienna, I have focused on the issue of discrimination. In the past two years, I have received a lot of love and was given many wonderful opportunities but, unfortunately, I have also experienced a lot of discrimination. Not only because of my nationality. I’m confronted with it everywhere, every day.
GVP: How were you/are you being discriminated against?
SN: Discrimination can take many different forms. It can be a look or a word. For example, I spoke to someone in German, and even though the person could understand me, they still answered in English. But most often my name is the issue. I have worked with so many people who couldn’t pronounce my first name correctly after six months or wrote it incorrectly in emails, even though my first name is in my email address. Or when I show my works to someone, I am usually asked about my father or if I have religious parents. This question is only put to me because I’m from Iran. I can’t say exactly where I’m being discriminated against. But there are also people who are very open-minded and don’t care about origins.
GVP: You have included biographical aspects in your pieces. The private is political – is it important to you that your art is political and makes a statement?
SN: I don’t know if I could call it a statement, and I wouldn’t want to. But I see art as a space that has the potential to make resistance to injustice visible.
GVP: What does resistance look like in your case?
SN: I use humour because it’s a powerful tool. Because it can have a profound effect.
GVP: To what extent is performance a useful medium for you to convey and/or negotiate political views?
SN: Performance is the only instrument I know. It has always worked well for me as a medium. It has allowed me to invite other people to sit down together and reflect.
Shahrzad Nazarpour grew up and studied theatre and art in Iran. Since 2020 she has been studying Transmedia Art at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Her solo performance Hijab offline, was part of the first edition of Skin – performance festival for young adults at Dschungel Wien.