Nazgol Ansarinia frequently responds to systems and their associated physical forms, examining their relationships to wider social contexts. Research concerns include Iran's water crisis, pollution, international politics, media, and Iranian architecture. Responding to ongoing changes in her built and natural environments, Ansarinia frequently revisits subjects in her practice, reimagining new iterations in different mediums as they complement her concepts.Read More
For the video Living Room (2005), Ansarinia responded to the air pollution in Tehran, which was noticeably worse upon her return from studying abroad. Comprised of images of Ansarinia's parents' former home, the video slowly reveals an apparently blank wall to be covered in dust and marks from pollution, leaving gaps where furnishings had been removed. Highlighting environmental issues while quietly contemplating the passage of time and the inhabiting of space, Living Room exemplifies the artist's ability to index entwined environmental and social histories.
Ansarinia has stated: 'My work is always focused on the environment that I live in, portraying very ordinary, everyday life and my position within that context ... I'm a deconstructionist who reconstructs the torn apart elements that show something new about something so banal that has gone unnoticed.'
Ansarinia's interest in architecture and the built environment is reflected in works such as Membrane (2014), a 16-foot suspended paper impression of the wall of a two-storey Tehran house that had been demolished. Like a shedded skin, Membrane stands as an ephemeral, minimal relic of Tehran's accelerating urbanisation.
Similarly, 'Pillars' (2014—ongoing), a series of cast resin columns partially sliced open to reveal inscriptions of text from the Iranian constitution, testifies to the evolving socioeconomic climate of Iran while inhabiting a symbolic architectural form. Myrna Ayad writes for Artforum: '[Ansarinia] elegantly pokes fun at today's Iranian nouveau riche, who celebrate their heritage in a contemporary and kitschy manner by building homes with pillars as exterior details in an attempt to enrich their surroundings.'
Iran's exponential rate of growth and urban development is further explored in Demolishing buildings, buying waste (2017), a collection of ceramic bricks based on demolition detritus. As gentrification rises, Ansarinia contemplates the aesthetic and social implications of construction, as well as the rewriting of an historic cityscape. Dilpreet Bhullar has written in STIRworld: 'The debris to which these miniature-sized "demolished buildings" refer to, is an erasure of Ansarinia's memory of the city.'
Ansarinia is recognised for her ongoing visual enquiry in relation to swimming pools, stemming from research into a suite of private pools commissioned in Tehran in the late 1960s.
Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the pools fell into disrepair, with many remaining empty and inoperative today. Ansarinia's responses have ranged from casts in concrete, plaster, and resin—seen in The Inverted Pool (2019), Private Waters (2020), or Connected Pools (2020)—to observational video, seen in Dissolving Substances (2020).
On the exhibition Lakes Drying, Tides Rising at Green Art Gallery (2022), which brought together multiple works resulting from Ansarinia's research into pools, Elaine YJ Zheng wrote for Ocula Magazine: '[the exhibition] references Iran's water crisis to exemplify the collective desire of a particular time, while marking resulting shifts in the proximal landscape.'