It’s not the first time we featured Shirin Abedinirad here on The Art Elephant. Last year, we featured her reflective installations Heaven on Earth, Evocation, and Narcissus. Not too long ago, she had a few more installations, in pyramid form.
Born in Tabriz, Iran but now based in both Florence, Italy and Tehran, Iran, this former model is now a visual artist whose installations have been blowing peoples’ minds away in the last few years. With a background in graphic design and fashion design from Dr. Shariaty University in Tehran, Shirin’s studies focused on conceptual art and how it would overlap with fashion design.
Having traveled (and still is traveling) around the world, Shirin expresses many things with whichever art form she goes for, whether it’s her installations, performance pieces, or her videos. She even does all the costumes, props and sets – if that’s no indication of passion then we don’t know what is!
A while back, she emailed TAE about her then-latest piece called the Mirrored Ziggurat, but we thought it would be amazing to feature more than one of her works and found out about Babel Tower as well.
The mirrors in one of Shirin’s latest installations are not just mirrors – because in Ziggurat form (a pyramid-like temple famous in ancient Mesopotamia), it means it’s connecting the earth and the sky as well as reflecting it. Ziggurats have been known to allow humans to connect and be nearer to God.
“The Mirrored Ziggurat has seven levels that represent seven heavens,” she explains. “For me, mirrors amplify this paradise, giving light; an important mystical concept in Persian Culture, and a medium creating an optical illusion.”
With support from the Keir Foundation, Shirin was able to create the installation and have it displayed in Sydney, Australia back in August 2015 for the Underbelly Arts Festival. “This installation offers a transformative view of the self,” she said.
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Babel Tower is an interactive installation by Shirin, with the help of Italian interactive designer Gugo Torelli. The mirrored steps modelled after the biblical Tower of Babel was created to be, well, interactive. It slowly rotates to reflect the changing views of the Iranian dessert.
Mirrors are Shirin’s signature material, and the tower rotates in various configurations. Sometimes each layer would spin, or the entire tower would twist into certain shapes.
“The top view of the installation, by reflecting the sky, is connecting it to the earth, symbolizing the aim of the Babel tower to reach for the heaven,” she said.
This is in sync with the Old Testament’s legendary account that when humanity was united under one language they built a tower going up to the heavens. Then, God feared humans had too much power and freedom so in turn we now all have different languages all over the world.
What makes it very rad is that while the tower’s movements reflect the desert’s weather conditions, it would also be just as interactive if installed in a city – responding to an audience instead.
“This interactive installation is giving a transformative image of the world by decomposing it into parts and recomposing it into a new union,” the mirror artist said.
The installation lasted for a few days back in October in Dasht-e Kavir, a desert in central Iran. Shirin and Gugo had to take it down, unfortunately. “We didn’t have any authorization to install it there,” Gugo said.
At the moment, the 3-foot tower is with Shirin, but they’re not sure where to install it next. Because it would work pretty cool in a city and interact with people, it’s possible they’ll try to get it into New York City.