‘You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul’, wrote George Bernard Shaw in his set of plays Back to Methuselah in 1918. Created one hundred years after, Shirin Abedinirad’s monumental assemblage of mirrored retro television sets in the shape of a Ziggurat interrogates similar themes of reflection, revelation, illusion and truth. Situated on the grassy isthmus at the mouth of the Erskine River, Revision is a site-speciﬁc land art project that mirrors all that is around it. When the space is empty, the mirrored TV screens reflect nature as it transforms itself from night to day. The ocean, sky and birdlife of the area become the only subject on the screens. When the isthmus is populated, it reflects the movements of people – joggers, walkers, children, dogs, lovers and loners who visit the site each day. Writing from her home in Tehran, Shirin comments, ‘this project invites audiences to watch a nature in a new frame. Instead of watching TV news, which we do not know if it is true or not, we could break the waves that televisions create and watch reality and nature instead. This installation creates a live movie through the simple reﬂection of everyone and everything around it. When there is no one in the beach the ocean itself plays a major role and it is watching its’s beauty’.
Born in Tabriz, Iran in 1986, Abedinirad is a conceptual performance artist. Revision is an example of her recent practice working with mirrors and the psychological power of their reflective properties. She writes, ‘In my recent projects I am trying to change the face of the nature. Mirror, water, metal, stone or any kind of element that has reflective capability is interesting for me. But mirror, with increasing the light gives much more clear reflection. It seems like it is a combination of two vital elements: Light and water, sometimes beside each other and sometimes in conflict with each other’. In 2015 she exhibited Mirrored Ziggurat on Cockatoo Island, Sydney for the Underbelly Arts Festival.
Abedinirad commenced as a painter, studying graphic design and later fashion design at the Dr. Shariaty University in Tehran. Here she began to examine conceptual art and the way in which it overlaps with fashion design. In 2010, she was invited to work at Benetton’s research centre, Fabrica, in Treviso, Italy and in 2014 she returned there to undertake a one-year scholarship. Her performance practice in Iran confronts issues of identity, gender, sexuality, and human compassion. Studying under the critically acclaimed Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami, she makes video art, exploring the notion of self and identity, repetition and reflection with moving images. Kiarostami influenced her to engage with nature in this dialogue.
Revision has been created from a global collaboration with the retro televisions being supplied by Geelong-based emperor of reclaimed global junk, Ian Ballis of The Powerhouse and a Geelong fabricator has prepared the frame and mirrored the screens.
2018 / Lorne / Landfall Lorne Sculpture Biennale
Project supported by Kerry Gardner and Andrew Myer
One of the first uses of mirrors in architecture was in Persepolis, Persia at the Tachara Palace. Glossy black stones were polished till their surface was reflective, expanding the palace’s size and beauty. 2,000 years later, I return to the concept of doubling space and light with Heaven on Earth, an installation project that was showcased in Italy in 2014.
The basic geometric shapes and symmetrical composition of the mirrors angling up the cement stairs are borrowed from Islamic art, where symmetry is considered the highest form of beauty. For me, the use of mirrors is integral to creating a paradise; mirrors give light, an important mystical concept in Persian culture.
Standing in front of the staircase, the audience is facing a transformative view of themselves, and their notion of how the world is structured. When the audience stands at the top of the stairs and looks down, they come face to face with an optical illusion that increases their light, and therefore their spirituality of the space. The very physics of nature are turned on their head- the sky is now the ground- and the light of the sun is magnified around the viewer. The blue sky spills onto the ground, mimicking a pool, and the audience is momentarily overcome with the desire to jump into the light.
CASA VOGUE O cenário espelhado da artista iraniana by Luisa Cella
COLOSSALMirror Installations by Shirin Abedinirad Reflect the Sky in Stairs and Desert Dunes by by Christopher Jobson
MY MODERN METIranian Artist’s Mirror Installations Symbolize the Relationship Between Humans and Nature by Anna Gragert
Vanilla MagazineA Treviso la Scala a Specchio di Shirin Abedinirad riflette il Cielo come uno Specchio d'Aqua by Annalisa Lo Monaco
MNNStroll across the sky in these dreamy mirror installations by Catie Leary
In this installation I have been inspired by the pyramidal structure of Ziggurat, a common form of temple in ancient Mesopotamia, attempting to connect earth and sky, so humans could be nearer to god.
The Mirrored Ziggurat acts as a staircase, which seeks to connect nature with human beings and to create union of ancient history and today’s world. This installation offers a transformative view of the self.
The Mirrored Ziggurat has seven levels that represent seven heavens. For me, mirrors amplify this paradise, giving light; an important mystical concept in Persian Culture, and a medium creating an optical illusion.
COLOSSALA Ziggurat of Mirrors by Shirin Abedinirad Connects the Sky and Ground in Sydney by Christopher Jobson
FubizMirrored Ziggurat to Connect The Earth and Sky
WIDE OPEN COUNTRYThis Amazing Mirrored Pyramid Brings the Sky Down to Earth by Lorie Leibig
ABC NEWSEmerging artists converge on Sydney's Underbelly
The story of the tower of Babel happened in a time when humankind had just one language and just one place to live freely without boundaries; a united humanity of the generations. The Lord concerned that humankind could have too much power and freedom, punished them for their pride by multiplying their languages so that they could not be able to understand one another.
Babel Tower is an interactive installation that recontextualizes the spiritual architecture of the Babel Tower with modern materials, creating a union between ancient history and our present world; it is combining the past, present and offering a union for future.
The top view of installation by reflecting the sky is connecting it to the earth, symbolizing the aim of Babel tower to reach for the heaven; The structural use of mirrors, serve as a reflective vessel for light, an integral feature of paradise.
When installed in a city location it reacts with different animation patterns to the audience interaction, when placed in a natural environment its movement are changing depending on the weather conditions. This interactive installation is giving a transformative image of the world by decomposing it into parts and recomposing it into a new union.
In this installation human is having a dialogue with city and nature to become one. This installation simply within a movement of human is changing the image of the nature and is gathering the view of the entire world in one piece.
Conceptual Artist: Shirin Abedinirad
Interaction Designer: Guglielmo Torelli
2016 / Iran / TADAEX2015
WIRED8 Remote Works of Art We Insist You Track Down by Liz Stinson
WIREDWatch a Pyramid of Mirrors Morph Based on Desert Weather by Margaret Rhodes
In Evocation, I tackle one of the formidable problems with desert dwelling: the lack of water. Exhibited in Iran Central Desert in 2013, this land art installation utilizes the reflective power of mirrors to bring quenching blue pools of “water” to the sand.
It is the ultimate mirage in the desert. At first glance, the mirrored circles, partially covered in the golden sand, appear to be small ponds. Only after a moment do we realize that it is actually the sky, reflected across the dunes. By altering our perception of nature and offering us a false narrative, I challenge the relationship between the human mind and the fundamental elements of nature.
May 2013 / Iran / Isfahan / Central desert
One Belt One Road Visual Arts Exhibition , organized by The Hong Kong Federation of Women in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery.
The ancient Silk Road has left a precious legacy of arts and culture. Curated by Pansy Ho, this exhibition unites the voices of today’s women who trace their own heritage to this region and reconnect to its history through contemporary art practice. Embracing the spirit of the Belt and Road Initiative, the exhibition reawakens the diversity of culture, language and art through the eyes of women throughout history, today and for our future.
Is nature aware of its own beauty? The question came to me after reading the mythological story of Narcissus and spending time in the desert, which to me, represents purity. Humans are able to see the exquisiteness of nature with their own eyes; I wanted to alter the perspective so that the desert could witness its own beauty.
In Narcissus, I used round mirrors and basic geometric shapes to create reflections of nature across the desert. The use of simple shapes was intentional; these mimic the forms commonly found in nature. For the viewer, the beauty of nature is ultimately doubled; we are, as always, the lucky recipients. This land art installation was exhibited in Iran Central Desert, 2013.
May 2013 / Iran / Isfahan / Central desert
Between 1980-1988, the Iran-Iraq war killed half a million soldiers and nearly as many civilians. This war, like all others, created divisions along the fault lines of religion and politics. I was most interested in transcending these divides by focusing on the individuals who succumbed to death. Exhibited in the city of Ahwaz in Iran, 2013, Eight Paradise is a living, metamorphosing memory of the lives lost.
The installation included eight metal stands, representing each year of the war. Each stand held a personal object of a martyr, such as a rosary, a book, or an ascot, encased in an ice cube. The objects were intentionally chosen as a material representation of the person’s soul. Under the hot southern sun, the ice slowly melted, the drops collecting in a bowl at the bottom of the stand. It made the sound of rain.
In death, the soul leaves the body and we become a spirit; we are transformed from one element to another. Water, in its solid form, is ice; as it melts it returns to its liquid nature. To me, the death of these individual martyrs did not represent the loss of a physical body, but rather the transition into spirit. In Eight Paradise, I was able to manipulate the audience’s remembrance of death by focusing on the transformative nature of life.
October 2013 / Iran / Ahwaz / Museum of Contemporary Art
A video installation between Shirin Abedinirad and Dionne Lee
In 1687, Isaac Newton proposed his First Law of Motion, the law of inertia: A body at rest tends to remain at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Bodies will continue in their current state, whether at rest or in motion, unless acted on by a greater outside force. As political tension between Iran and the United States increases, ongoing struggles for world power and resources directly impact everyday lives. The laws of inertia and resistance apply to both places despite the time difference (Eleven and a Half Hours, UTC-7 hours, time zone PDT).
Eleven and a Half Hours is an exhibition focused on how Iranian and American residents carry on living despite varying levels of political turmoil that maintain a state of unrest. A collaboration between two female artists in parallel political and geographical locations showcases an attempt to resist the law of inertia by entering into a conversation and sharing experiences of discomfort in a sanctioned world. This exhibition is curated by Shaghayegh Cyrous as the culminating project of Aggregate Space Gallery’s annual intensive gallery internship.
The Sky is Mine is a land art project by Shirin Abedinirad, which is now the part of The Absence of Pathscurated by Lina Lazzar for Tunisian Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia. The Absence of Paths is an integral component to the physical pavilion in Venice, the online platform is a democratic space to showcase contributors’ thoughts and perspectives on migration.
"Where I am, let is be so
The Sky is mine."
Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980)
The land on which I realise my dreams, is replete with hopes and despair for me, even though it destroys my mountains to build high-rise apartments in the heart of the mountains. They cut trees to build roads for the vehicles whose lives are becoming shorter with the passage of time. Every morning on this very land, there is news about the death of dozens of children, animals and humans and each death news howls with hope. On this land, among stony paths and vast deserts, I am seeking a place that would be a window of life full of hope and delight. On the gloomy paths before me, I am looking for skies. Throughout the dark clouds, I am searching for a comforting blue which is the liberation from my bitter moments on the land that I love. I know that some people sieve dreams and impose the realities on me. However, I will bring my dreams from the sky to the land.
March 2017 / Semnan / Iran
taeAbsence of Paths: “The Sky is Mine” – New Work from Shirin Abedinirad by Chantelle Lamoreaux
This was an interactive happening performance, which asked audience to pour boiled water on me. It was a psychological test for resistance, which showed the people's reactions who faced with it.
March 2013 / Spain / Murcia / IBAFF Festival
1s White 1s Black
A video-installation for the memorial of the two atomic attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Sara was a girl from a village in Azerbaijan, Iran. She was such a beauty that nobody could take their eyes of her. Sara fell in love with a man called Shepherd Khan, whom she use to meet beside the Arpa river. One day Khan went to work outside the village. A man named Beig came and took Sara by force. Thus she gave her body and soul to the Arpa river. Ever since then, her soul is flowing in all the rivers in the world.
March 2013 / Spain / Murcia / IBAFF Festival
A sound performance showing how a traditional mosque can save and make human sounds echo back to audience. This was the first time that a woman dares to sing a song in public place in Iran, especially in the famous Imam Mosque.
May 2013 / Iran / Isfahan / Imam Mosque
A performance which was a reference to symbolic signification and semiological phallic senses in order to show a reaction to masculine powers in societies which suppress women.