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Curated Art: Between Heaven and Earth

Heaven on Earth - June 2014 / Italy, Treviso, Fabrica

“Mirrors are the objects that reflect light in a way that is most proportionate to the original object.” This is the simplest definition of a mirror. To us, mirrors are purely used for science experiments or beautification and vanity. This is true, but when you take a straightforward object or medium into the perspective of an artist, many rules are broken. Shirin Abedinirad, proved to me that mirrors have deeper stories to tell, and that they can reflect and symbolise the beauty of nature and elements.

Narcissus - May 2013 / Iran, Isfahan, Central Desert

I discovered Shirin and her works online, specifically on Tumblr. The works that had driven me to write this article were of her mirror installations, which she had placed in certain locations. The clarity of the mirrors’ reflections aided with the symbolism of the installations. I was immediately stunned with the power of the simple idea, with the beautiful result of a powerful message for each of her works. Her works reminds us of the elements of our planet (earth, air, fire, water). Mirrors — although people may agree that they are industrial and commercial — are made earth, and yet here, they seem as fluid as water or as ethereal as the sky. They do not create, but recreate perfect impersonations of the world around them. In her works, we see a product or products of nature and industrialism, in it’s ‘original and/or natural atmosphere’.

Mirrored Ziggurat - August 2015 / Australia, Sydney, Underbelly Arts Festival
(A ziggurat is a rectangular stepped tower, sometimes surmounted by a temple. Ziggurats are first attested in the late 3rd millennium BC and probably inspired the biblical story of the Tower of Babel)

What she shares with us — which she mentions in my short interview with her — is that the mirrors and nature commence a “silent dialogue,” where the mirror reflects the light of nature’s radiance, and the nature “sees itself” or “looks into” the mirror.

Evocation - May 2013 / Iran, Isfahan, Central Desert

Here below, is my short interview with the artist herself!

When did you start to find your artistic nature?
When I was child, like a lot of children, I loved to paint. My parents encouraged me to become an artist and I just continued onto the path that they showed to me.

How did you come up with the idea and concept of your mirror installations?
I needed an interaction with an environment that reflects a rhythm of repetition and continuity. In my recent projects, I am trying to change the face of the nature. Mirror, water, metal, stone or any kind of elements that have reflective capability, is interesting for me. But with mirrors, increasing the light gives a much clearer reflection. It seems like it is a combination of two vital elements: light and water.

Mirrored Ziggurat - August 2015 / Australia, Sydney, Underbelly Arts Festival

Did the locations inspire your works (Evocation, Mirrored Ziggurat, Heaven on Earth, Narcissus), or did you seek the locations, to suit your works?
The mirror installations that were in desert (Evocation (2013) and Narcissus (2013)), were my first eyeball to eyeball acquaintance with nature. Being in a pure and nude desert, and in a place — in which there is nothing except sky, sand and me — became a doss (sic ) for my intimacy with nature. From this time on, I was not at a place of subject anymore, and nature was not an object that I would recreate. I was involved in a silent dialogue with nature: a dialogue with a mighty presence that was beholding me. 

My installations were made just for a place that I wanted to install them in. The building of Fabrica (Research centre of Benetton), made by famous architect Tadao Ando, was one of these locations. The structure of that place really inspired me for Heaven on Earth because it reminded me of Persepolis and Tachar hall. You can read the statement of this work in my website.

For Mirrored Ziggurat, I was also inspired by the photos of the location, which were sent to me by curator of Underbelly Arts Festival. They asked me to present my installation Heaven on Earth, but when I saw photos of the location, I couldn't find a staircase which would fit for my installation so I came up with an idea of making a ziggurat. 

Does the message that you want to convey come first, or does a location or idea come first, and then the meaning follows?
For me, the message, idea, and locations are all connected to each other. 

(Left to Right)
Heaven on Earth / Mirrored Ziggurat

You have filmed some art projects and created art installations. Do you have a preferable form of media of your art?
In the conceptual art field, I started with performance art and then I made video art. Then I became more captivated by nature and installation. Now, I prefer to make installations and video art. I wanted to watch nature from different aspects, as from the audience's point of view. As a performer, I could not do this.

Is there a place or are there places that your have travelled before that you wish to visit again?
I travelled to Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat in Khuzenstan, Iran, a place which I would like to visit again. Four years ago, I went to Uzbekistan and I wish I could visit Bukhara again. I've been in India twice in 2011 and 2012, and I hope I can travel there as soon as I can.

Do you have any specific art inspirations or influences?
Nature itself is inspiring to me. History, especially the history of my land is inspiring to me.

Narcissus - May 2013 / Iran, Isfahan, Central Desert

If I am not mistaken, you also have an interest for/ are working under fashion design. If so, is it something you want to pursue?
Nowadays, fashion and art are more close than anything to each other. As an artist I will always keep my eyes on fashion and I am thinking about making a few projects in this field. I am interested in fashion as an art. I just wrote an original book about Fashion and Conceptual art that is going to be published (in Persian) next month.

Do you have specific fashion influences?
I admire Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubu, and Kenzo for his patterns.

Heaven on Earth - June 2014 / Italy, Treviso, Fabrica

I have a keen interest in art, but I find it difficult to find work out of art. This is with the barriers of starting an art projecting and worrying that the ideas I create would not be worth the time and effort I put into creating a project. How did you find a way to get work and become noticed?
More than anything, I believed in myself and I did what I wanted to do. I didn't work to become noticed, I just kept working and trying. I didn't limit myself in the field. I started with painting, then I studied graphic design, then to fashion, performance art, video art, writing, photography, installations, and now digital art. You should not put limitations on yourself, and more importantly, you should not allow people to limit your thoughts, beliefs and ways.

Do you have any advice to art students or art enthusiasts, who have the same problem as I do?
I will say to your students to break the rules, and do what you want to do. Nobody can know you way better than you. Just trust yourself and keep trying and working hard.

Evocation - May 2013 / Iran, Isfahan, Central Desert

For more of information about Shirin and her works, visit her website at:

Photographs are courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad.

Evocation - May 2013 / Iran, Isfahan, Central Desert

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