Like many expats that have lived all over the world, 35-year-old university lecturer Dr. Nady Mirian can relate to feeling like a citizen of the world. “I have Persian roots, and German wings” she says.

Career-wise, Nady’s time is spent teaching at the Nanterre University in Paris, working as a behavioural psychotherapist with children and young adults. However, the art and photography buff also spends her days dreaming about picking up the camera in a professional capacity. “I like the idea of starting a new career one day, and capturing people’s life as a documentary photographer, then getting it all published.” For now, she’s settled on the art form being a passion and hobby, while relishing in the works of others. As she reels off her favourite photographers, her eyes start to gleam. “I love the work of people like Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Capa, Sebastião Salgado and James Nachtwey – they have a way of bringing reality to their pictures.” With such a strong adoration in the way she speaks about photography, you would naturally assume Nady’s love affair for photography began at a young age – and you’d be right.


Growing up in Cologne, Germany, Nady’s discovery of Magnum Photos at age 14 ignited the beginning of her journey in film photography. “The slower process of film allows me to feel and think about the composition. Film captures details beautifully that way” she expresses artlessly. Staying in the depths of creativity, Nady’s also currently in the process of writing two books. “One is co-written with my philosophical friend Dr. Lucia Sehnbruch about the ‘cyberbullying dispositive’ and the other, is written solely by myself, titled The Phenomenology of Pain and Resilience”. The latter, doesn’t come as a surprise, as she cited Louise Bourgeois earlier in our conversation, specifically his famous quote “I have been to hell and back – and let me tell you, it was wonderful.” She goes on to explain, “I love this quote because it describes the balance of resilience very well.”


Reflecting on the reason that brought her to Paris, Nady jolts the conversation back to her formative years as a teenager. “I was actually never good at school but I was reading a lot of books on philosophy, such as Sartre, Camus, Deleuze. French philosophy, in particular, has always inspired me. Through Michel Foucault’s work, I have learned to be critical with power institutions and with societies’ way of dealing with inequality.” Foucault, a famous French philosopher and historian, who addresses the relationship between power and knowledge, and the way societal institutions utilise this as a way of exerting control, wrote a book covering the history of psychiatry. Nady credits this specific book to becoming the biggest influencing factor to her pursuing a career in psychotherapy. “Foucault’s way of writing inspired me, so I did a lot of research about his private life in Paris. Through his biography, way of living and mind-set, I started to feel emotionally close to Paris. So at 17 year old, I travelled to Paris for three weeks”. Instantly, Nady felt at home.


“My biggest dream was to write books in Paris – and here I am. Anything is possible, if you just love what you do and work hard for it” she says, in a tranquil tone.


Prior to Paris, Nady did stints in Los Angeles and Berlin. When asked about the biggest differences between France and Germany, Nady does not take to the trivial matters of who reigns supreme in the pastry game. Instead, she depicts the differences of how she perceives herself. “I have a good balance in resilience and vulnerability here. I feel like a woman, who can be strong and also soft. I’m more chill here, more easy-going.”


Nady also acknowledges COCO Community being a testament to her art de vivre à la française. “Since the first day, I felt super comfortable. COCO were super honest and professional. Within weeks of arriving, I already felt home. Everyday, I’ll go to the co-working space, hang out, have lunch with Frederic [COCO’s founder] and the rest of the team. This familiar atmosphere makes me very productive in working and writing my books.” But COCO isn’t just there for the good times, as Nady found out. In her first two weeks of arrival, she came down with a case of COVID and the team were there to support her needs, from getting groceries delivered to replenishing her medicine. “It really felt like everyone was constantly taking care of me!” she reflects.


Nady also credits COCO for broadening her existing network in the city. “Through COCO, I’ve been able to meet someone new, every single day. COCO is my second home, a place where you are welcomed and can interact with many people. You will never feel alone in this community. I am not much of a party person, but I absolutely love the COCO parties, along with the organised talks, coaching and political lectures.” It’s evident Nady has loved engaging with the community – so much so that, she’ll be hosting her own talk, in early December.


The topic she’ll be covering? It comes to no surprise it’ll be about the balance of resilience and pain.


“Hemmingway was right when he said that there are only two places in the world – where we can be happy… at home, and in Paris!” she says matter-of-factly. “The wine and food culture, endless art and history, live music everywhere, the elegance and beauty of the women and the Opéra Garnier… Paris reminds me of Josef Albers’ quote – “If one says red, and there are 50 people listening, it can be expected that there are 50 different reds in their minds.” Every day, you see a new shade of red – I love that!”


You can learn more about the work Nady does here.