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Maryam Nazari

MA Performance Design and Practice
Central Saint Martins
Person Type
Maryam  Nazari


How did you first hear about Central Saint Martins?

I remember I was looking for a Performance/Performance Art course in the UK, I knew Central Saint Martins as one of the best Art schools in the world but didn't realise they offered a Performance Design course until I found it through google.

What appealed to you about the MA Performance Design and Practise course?

One of the fascinating things about MA PDP is the variety of people from different backgrounds, disciplines and nationalities on the course. When your classmates come from diverse backgrounds: dancer, musician, costume designer, director, makeup designer, light designer, architecture, actors/actresses, etc. - among different nationalities, this variety can be a source of inspiration itself. There is a belief which says; each immigrant is an artist because they bring their culture with them to a new country. Ceremonies are a significant element in performance art and each culture has its wonderful ceremonies. Imagine, as a performance artist/designer, having a chance to spend two years with nine people from nine different countries and cultures.

How would you describe MA Performance Design and Practice?

MA Performance Design and Practice is a course that won't give you a fish, but it will teach you how to fish. That's why you might feel you’re not getting anything at first, but it’s not true. I remember on my first day Jeremy Till, the head of college, gave a speech saying that ‘Central Saint Martins is a place of collaboration and asking questions’ and indeed MA PDP was a collaborative and questioning place. We had a workshop every week, with different artists, different practices, from site-specific performance to composition and choreography.

What would you tell your first-year self now?

I would tell myself to use the CSM facilities as much as I can, we had sessions every week as a part of the course. Alongside this, Michael Spencer, our course leader, used to give us a list of the exhibits, performances and shows each term so we’d know what was happening in London.

What did you love most about Central Saint Martins?

I always emphasise one point about Central Saint Martins, the building itself. Coming into the building every day, the atmosphere was the most exciting and inspiring thing about CSM for me. You could feel a healthy competition between creative minds. All the students are very active and creative all the time, and you don't feel any passivity.

What words of advice would you give to a student studying on MA Performance Design and Practise?

Being a good listener and receiver is significant to being a better artist. When you’re working as a group, the result is a matter, not a person. As a group member listening to the other's ideas is a very important skill. So, open your ears to feed your imagination.

Did studying the course help you decide this was the route you wanted to take?

For sure, the course helped me regarding my future path. My background’s in music, I graduated with a BA in music but I didn't want to work as a musician. This course helped me to find my way between sound and performance design. During the two years I realised sound has a crucial role for me as a performance designer. I’m a multidisciplinary artist and I’m working with different mediums like video art, performance art, experimental theatre, film, etc. This course helped me discover my primary material when creating artwork, that material for me is sound.

What are your favourite memories of studying at Central Saint Martins?

The end of each semester, the time near the deadlines, was my favourite time at CSM. Everyone in the building was working nonstop, from the library to the workshops. And of course you can see the results of this hard work at the degree show each year.

What are you doing now?

I am doing my PhD in Performance Art, Acoustic Scenography in multidisciplinary art, at Brunel University. I’ve just finished my residency at Yinka Shonibare’s Studio in East London, which ended with my performance, This Body Is All Bodies. I’m also working as the core member of Tse Tse Fly Middle East curatorial team. Tse Tse Fly Middle East is a registered Community Interest Company (based in London), a non-profit arts organisation and curatorial platform that draws attention to human rights, censorship and social issues via live events, workshops and interventions. Moreover, I work as an artistic consultant and my recent project with this position was a collaboration with Jerwood Composer, Amir Konjani and London Symphony Orchestra.

What are you currently working on?

I'm doing a practice-based PhD. So, it means I’m an artist-researcher. I started a new project called "The Art of Slaughter", which is part of my PhD as well. It’s a series of videos and photos that I have recorded at cow and chicken Slaughterhouse in Iran. I will also be contributing tracks to the forthcoming 'These Are Our Friends Too' album in a collaboration between Tse Tse Fly Middle East and FORWARD UK, a leading UK-based African diaspora women's campaign and support organization, set to release a unique album to highlight the work it does to eradicate FGM (female genital mutilation).