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Camille Zaerpour | Research Trip

Kenya | Literature

August - September 2023 — Literature

Camille Zaerpour

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Swiss artist and researcher Camille Zaerpour will undertake a research trip in Nairobi, Kenya from 16 August to 23 September 2023 to explore the interrelation between Swahili and Persian oral poetries. The intention of the trip is to deepen the research initiated during her Master’s degree at HEAD-Geneva in 2022 which explored the role of orality in the survival of Persian poetry, and to collaborate with Kenyan artists and authors on the theme of oral transmission and different ways of gathering and sharing knowledge.

During a previous self-organised trip to Kenya, Camille began researching Swahili poetry and oral traditions and how poetry can serve as a powerful medium of cultural expression and social commentary. “My project has given me a unique perspective on rich poetic traditions and has motivated me to continue exploring the connections between different cultures through poetry,” Camille explains. “Given these connections, I have decided to return to Kenya to continue explore the relationships and influence between Iranian and Swahili poetry. By discovering and valuing the different ways poetry is created, shared, and appreciated, I want to study how these two poetic traditions have intersected and influenced each other over time, and extract the cultural and historical contexts in which they have evolved.”

This research trip will provide Camille the opportunity to meet and exchange with different artists and researchers in order to share perspectives and create a community to challenge pervasive understandings of what poetry is. She plans to collect the outcomes from the research in a booklet and video, as a continuation of her first book “The past is still moving”.


Camille Zaerpour lives and works between Lausanne and Zurich. She has collaborated with various independent art spaces as an artist, curator and through appearances with her collective “public display of emotions”.  Her work is polymorphous and decompartmentalised, taking the form of experimental sound and visual installations, performances, texts and videos. She also writes, mainly memory fiction, which she began developing as part of her research at HEAD-Geneva. Her approach is rooted in the tension between History and the mundane. She bases her language on the anecdotes of everyday life and the (non-)meaning we give to these (non-)events. Through her artistic practice, she attempts to bring this vision or feeling to a more conceptual and corporeal level. With her collective “public display of emotions”, created jointly with Clara Chavan in 2021, she experiments with possible deployments of the sensitive and their political dimensions.