Iranian artist Shirin Abedinirad confronts issues of gender, identity, history, nature and human compassion through her diverse body of work, ranging from conceptual fashion and performance art to video and land art. The Tehran-based artist developed an affinity for conceptual art while studying fashion design at university, quickly making it a part of her daily life. During this time, she began to partake in performance art shows around Iran, launching what would become her lifelong career.

Moving away from her self-focused early performance art, Abedinirad began experimenting with video art in 2012, with pieces exploring notions of self and identity. She later developed a fascination for nature, making it a central theme in her work. In 2014, Abedinirad began creating land art, installations and public art. This formed the signature artistic style that she’s known for today that combines nature with Arabian heritage and tradition, greatly inspired by ancient history and the earth as a source of life. Although her origins are greatly linked with her art, Abedinirad chooses to stray from cultural clichés in an effort to create her own personal universe, free to be interpreted by the audience.

Among her most acclaimed forms of work, the Land Art series comprises pieces ranging from large-scale installations to reflective mirror sculptures set in desolate locations. Her strategic choice of location, material and light all tell a story that connects the environment to the viewer. The use of desolate settings such as the desert and industrial environments brings viewers back to the most rudimentary form of existence, while mirrored reflections of the sky and nature are used to form a specific point of view in each piece.

In the installation Heaven on Earth, Abedinirad depicts a literal “stairway to heaven” in which a mirrored set of stairs reflects the sky above. The optical illusion prompts viewers to consider the relationship between humans and nature, a common topic found in her work. Abedinirad’s artistic placement of mirrors plays on themes of light, movement and nature, instantly connecting the viewer to their surroundings and the reflection.

On using nature as her studio, Abedinirad says, “My studio in the desert does not have a roof or borders. I have a door, which is open to anyone in the world. I have no clothes in my drawers but I have the sky inside of it. I have a dry tree that I brought to life with a carpet; carpet is the symbol of paradise… For me the desert is the world’s most pure place where I can talk to nature’s soul and have a long conversation with it.”

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