Shirin Neshat: “You can’t demystify a myth”
Ms. Neshat, what role does memory play in your art?
As a visual artist, there are things that stick with me that are somewhat illogical but that are very emotional and nostalgic. For example, the garden of the house that I grew up in Qazvin, Iran — which has since been demolished — was perfectly symmetrical and beautifully designed. Even now, I could draw it from memory. It felt like heaven inside of it! This for me is the ultimate blissful memory of my past.
After leaving your home to study in the US, you were unable to return once the Iranian Revolution broke out in 1979. How did your relationship to those memories shift when you were living in exile?
I think for people who live in exile and people who have immigrated, there are certain things that they bring with them and there’s a lot that they let go of. It depends on who they are… I do not remember many of my friends’ names, for example, but there are certain moments that I remember extremely vividly and I have no idea why. I think that’s just human mystery. The memory of the garden, though, has been like a dream that always reappears.
Kristin Scott Thomas: “You forget how much it hurts”
Ms. Scott Thomas, is generosity perhaps the most important quality an actor can have?
I think you’ve got to be brave, you've got to be courageous… You’ve got to think outside the box. In a lot of scripts that are written, there's a very obvious way in and there's a less obvious way in. And I think what I like is when people have a new way of finding the music of a piece, that's always really exciting to me.
The producer Robert Fox once said you had the gift of generosity on stage and that made the audience go wild for you.
That's one of the best things anyone's ever said about me, I can't quite get over it. Yes. I do think generosity as a performer is very important, but it's also a very, very thin line between being generous and being ingratiating, to want the audience to like you too much. I think that's dangerous — that's really, really dangerous. It’s giving them too easy a ride.