Enrolled at the mdw since: 2017
Programme of study: IGP – Classical Piano (MA)
Favourite place at the mdw and why: The Campus is my favourite place, especially during the summer when the inner courtyard with its green trees provides a shady, pleasant atmosphere. Even though the Campus is a lively place that’s frequented by lots of people, you can still spend a calm moment and refresh your body and soul . And it’s great that the hmdw Office is right nearby so that I can get a good cup of coffee to boost my energy during the day.
Favourite place in Vienna: I’ve got various favourite places where I’ll go depending on my mood, but the Donauinsel is a place where I always feel like staying a bit longer. The island provides a beautiful and peaceful setting for lots of different outdoor activities like jogging, cycling, and swimming. It’s also an ideal place to take a walk or have a picnic, and it offers an escape from Vienna’s urban hustle and bustle.
What I wish I’d known back when I started studying here: I would’ve liked to have had it impressed upon me that I could really believe in the opportunities offered by the mdw and hmdw, and that I should make active use of them in realising my projects and ideas. With commitment and creativity, we students can often achieve incredible things and gather valuable experiences that will benefit us in our studies and future careers—as I saw quite clearly in our work to organise the hmdw’s International Women’s Day concert.
When I make music, I let myself get swept away and immerse myself in it, and I know that nothing in the world is impossible because I’m applying the principles of creation—even if it’s just for a couple hours or minutes in a little University practice room. It lets me feel how I’ve taken a further step toward self-awareness and self-determination.
A question or theme with which I’m preoccupied currently or generally is the question as to the role of music, art, and culture at large in politics. It’s important that we be aware of how music and art usually aren’t neutral and to keep in mind how they’re always products of their times and societies and can’t be viewed in isolation. Artists and musicians are often strongly influenced by the political and social circumstances under which they live, and their works express this. But even so, it’s not always easy to say where the fine line is between political manipulation (in both positive and negative senses) and artistic freedom. A piece of music can shine a light on the political situation, but it shouldn’t live exclusively from doing so; it should also possess artistic and aesthetic qualities that make it a unique and interesting work of art. Conversely, a musical work’s significance and message can certainly be amplified by making concrete reference to the political situation, but there’s no absolute rule that this need be the case. Ultimately, it depends on the creative decisions of the composer and on the listeners’ interpretation.
What significance do you see protest as having in art? Over the course of history, artists have quite often used their art to demand political and social change and call attention to injustices. For us Iranians, who’ve been living subject to an oppressive dictatorial regime, music and art don’t just represent an intellectual, abstract, and philosophical platform but have also been used for decades as ways of signalling our resistance to and combatting dictatorships as well as conveying our message of freedom. It’s for this reason that musicians and artists are under constant threat from the regime. Art doesn’t necessarily have to be political, but it does have the power to support and initiate processes of political and social change. Under dictatorial oppression, the arts are like oxygen for the people’s fire.
To what extent is protest significant in the context of your activities as an artist, and why? When I think of how numerous musicians—particularly in Iran—have been prevented from doing what they do by being arrested or getting slapped with various restrictions on account of their political views, it moves me to contemplate how I can fulfil my social responsibility to express solidarity with them and raise my own voice for change. So that we can make music in a free Iran with a plurality of political views, and so that no event has to be cancelled due to our political opinions. In this spirit, protest is an very important element of my artistic activities—so that we might demonstrate the sounds of our solidarity and the voices of our resistance.