“Interview: Nasser 10/23/02”
Maryam Kashani

“Interview: Nasser 10/23/02” is an oral history interview conducted for a feature length documentary, Best in the West (2006). The installation reflects on the interview, which given enough time and perhaps direction, can traverse great emotional and gestured terrain. In the telling of one’s own life, whether it be a joyous moment of discovery or a tragic account of death or regret, one’s body will either open itself up to memory or bolt down the doors. Whether it is the presence of a camera, a captivated audience, or the time and space to explore one’s story in detail, or a combination of the above, something happens in an oral interview. And with filming, it is not only audible, but visible. It becomes a record, not necessarily of a particular event in or span of history, but the telling of a history, filtered through perspective, memory, and performance. This translation of events in the storytelling mode is further subject to another mode of translation, when edited into a film, typically by someone other than the original storyteller. In recounting an event from his life, my uncle Nasser seems to carry the burden of these events and then finds a way--often physical--to release that memory and its weight. Because these movements were best understood over a long period of time, editing between them became difficult and at times traumatic. This installation therefore revisits the original interview, which lasting two hours was the longest conversation my uncle and I had ever had.


Maryam Kashani is currently a graduate student in Social Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin, where she is examining issues of politics, identity, transnationalism, and Islam. She holds an MFA in Film/Video from the California Institute of the Arts. She began her filmmaking practice as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. Her film and video work has been screened in festivals and museums internationally.