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Artist Vanessa Safavi Installs Deserts in Galleries

It's sand-versus-sports clothes in the work of this Swiss-Iranian artist.

by Nicole Walsh
Aug 7 2015, 4:30pm

Vanessa Safavi, Plenty of None. 2010. Sand, clothes, and epoxy paint, 7 × 5 m, Installation view. Images courtesy the artist

Swiss-Iranian artist Vanessa Safavi explores desert sites virtually, rather than in reality, for her series of installations, Plenty of None, Real life is Elsewhere, and Each Color is a Gift for You. Each artwork responds to the anothers in a process of continuity: “I love to travel to unobserved and forgotten sites by clicking a mouse on Google Maps, and in doing so discovering abstract landscapes from the macro-perspective,” Safavi tells The Creators Project.

Like many of Safavi’s works, the installations are open to interpretation. In all three cases, she focuses in on the idea of the desert as pure, virginal, even. “In human history the desert has always been a location for innocence and a simple existence close to nature. Many modern cultures project their longing for authenticity, purification and clarity onto the nomadic archaic life of ancient times,” she explains.

Safavi, whose interest in topography and cartography developed through a fascination with what could be happening in empty parts of the globe, began her desert-orientated efforts in 2010 with Plenty of None, a sand, clothing, and epoxy paint work centered around desert ecology and the relationships we have with nature. “The relation between the white sand and the sport clothes evokes the colonization of nature by men," she explains. "The high-tech fabrics made to retain perspiration and to dry faster are made to be more performative and therefore resist the nature, and [the piece] obviously alludes to a possible catastrophe, disappearance, extinction.” Real Life is Elsewhere (2011), a room filled with sand and molded objects that look like bones, on the other hand, is “more poetic, the landscape is more a metaphor of utopia.”

Check out Vanessa Safavi's work on her website.

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Vanessa Safavi, Plenty of None. 2010. Sand, clothes, and epoxy paint, 7 × 5 m, Installation view

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