Emergeast Interview: Artist Sara Shabanazad
This week, we sat with Iranian born artist Sara Shabanazad and delved into her unique artistic path. Combining her Eastern heritage with her globalised surroundings, Sara's works represent a stimulating hybrid of both her worlds.
Now based in Tehran, she tells us what it's like to be a creative in today's Middle Eastern art world...
What shaped your path into becoming an artist? (inspirations behind choice)
I think it was a combination of factors. First my curiosity and never-ending quest for true knowledge. Then my personality, natural abilities and beliefs. In the beginning I think we all choose the path to which lays the more intriguing questions for us. I always found the answers to my questions in images or through poetry. I loved to draw and sing since I can remember so I think it was not only exhilarating for me but also challenging as well to conceptualize the abstraction of my experiences through making images and writing.
What influences your next series or direction of your work?
I am currently studying about the universe and the dualistic nature of our world, trying to perceive being from a no space, no time standpoint. To understand I need to meditate and while meditating I sometimes get these visions or just abstract understanding of things, which were vague or puzzling to me before and then if I feel it's worth the while, just make something to document this revelation. Sometimes I create and then the understanding comes after.
Do you have a favorite piece that you've made? Why does it hold the most value to you?
Yes it's a tiny triptych I made. I used pictures of myself as a child when I was really happy.
The Middle Eastern art scene has been getting a lot of traction, what do you think are the driving forces behind this?
The art scene is just part of a complex whole, and the initial driving force behind that system is lust for power; in order to attain it, they need to attract attention. That's where art comes in. It's very attractive. I know this sounds pessimistic and political but if you know a bit about the history and culture of the region specifically Iran, and of course human nature, it's difficult not to be.
In terms of a growing number of artists and their exposure – where do you see the Iranian art industry going in the near future?
It used to make me sad that Art has become an Industry. Artists have become confused about the difference of art and entertainment. I agree with Andrew Simonet saying that "the Industrial complex wants to eliminate the distinction altogether." In the past making art was considered a sacred act. An act of faith. Focusing the attention on divine truth. Silence. Now it is more like a distraction. An entertainment. It doesn't satisfy needs only cravings.
I just hope that artists in general become aware of their responsibility towards society doesn't matter where in the world they are from or live because the bug has become a world epidemic. Being an artist in the "Middle East" (which in itself is a questionable term), it's hard not to be confused in letting ourselves be defined by exterior motives for e.g. the western perception of Middle Eastern's, yet some are also self-defined. I'm not sure where it's going but which ever way it is we are all experiencing something so the most important thing is to be true to oneself and be able to distinguish the influence of political & economic strategies.
Through your experiences as a Middle Eastern artist – in your opinion is there particular subject matter and themes you see audiences particularly drawn to?
I don't like to categorize but it depends on the audience and their conditioned definitions of art. Middle Easterner's are obsessed with beauty, luxury and magnificence. Heritage & culture is very important , also if they experienced immigration/exile they relate to concepts like displacement, identity, nostalgia, diaspora etc.
Westerners on the other hand are more attracted to narrative and their perceptions of the east. They are intrigued by visual representations of culture whether its in the colors, or subjects like religion, politics, gender suppression, mysticism...
Last but not least – where would you like to see your work shown in the future?
MOMA? Art History books? I'm just kidding. I don't know... To be honest I'm just taking it one day at a time!