Elham Shafaei is an Iranian born artist and curator, working and living in the Emirates, where she is developing her studio practice since 2017. She received her B.A Bachelor of Painting in Elm o Farhang Science and Culture University, Tehran, Iran. In 2010 she moved to Malaysia where she obtained M.A in Fine Arts in Papermaking and a PhD in Painting that examined the role of melancholia in creative life. Through her curatorial projects she tries to connect artists’ internationally. Elham is the Co-Founder and Co-Editor at ContemporaryIdentities International Online Art Magazine. Lately, she Founded Art Projects which is an Online Art Foundation to combines the tools of management, marketing and planning with the tools of audience-and community to build bridges between art, artists and audiences. Recently, she has been appointed as Industrial Fellow for School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
I love the process of art making. The contemplation, idea development, sketches. I will be happy to see the outcomes of that process and share those thoughts and feelings to others through my art.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
I started to write poems and short stories and illustrate those when I was 7-year-old.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
My life. All my art articulates around my being.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
I love all of my projects and I feel intimate with all of those. If I want to pick one, I can say “Toys Are We”. The project is a combination between painting and sculpture to represent the complex notion of objecthood. I intend to create a physical context for the viewers to experience a sense of objects through the painting in a form of soft sculpture (toys) that focuses on the spectacle of human person as an object. In this project, I invite the audience to the ‘humanly’ world of objects by showing a series of portraits in a form of soft sculptures.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
I may say Monstera in Conversation. The project is a sound art Project which supported by art Jameel Research and Practice Program in 2020. I recorded the Monstera plant noise through a specialized instrument, which detects slight electrical variations in plant via electrodes placed on the leaves. These variations are graphed as a wave, which is translated into pitch messages that play the instrument. The result is a continuous stream of sound caused by the plant’s gas system that gives us a sonic window into the secret life of plants. Then I used Monstera’s voice as a host to converse with the invited guests to provide a series of absurd dialogues. This sense of absurdity is experienced as dissonance that might well be our daily routine during these days of the COVID plague. The episodes are available on Spotify under “Monstera in Conversation”.
THE BEST THING ABOUT MIDDLE EASTERN CREATIVITY IS
Most of Middle Eastern artists are very much engaged by their culture and their language.
BEST STATEMENT OF MIDDLE EASTERN HUMOR
The accent!Ancient Arab literature is rich with transparent humor, and several Arab nationals including Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, and Moroccans are well-known for their sense of humor and the contribution of their scholars and literary communities to humor literature and the science and practice of humor.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EMIRATI CREATIVES
Search more, there is a treasure to unveil.
BEST PLACE IN DUBAI
The Old Dubai
BEST PLACE IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
Everyone is rich!
UAE SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
Innovation, cultural diversity and hospitality.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
My sense of self is integrated with the awareness of personal growth and connection with others. The world is an integral part of my spirituality and it is related to the sense of self and an awareness of my own life among others in this world.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Since I am an artist, I guess the dopamine reward systems in my brain doesn’t react much to money. That was a joke indeed. Money is a tool to provide a better life. I need enough to provide a better life!
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE When I was teenager, I received a book from an artist friend. It had a huge impact on my teenage life and made me want to live as an artist. “Lust for Life” by Irving Stone.
Apart of this specific book, I recommend the young creatives to be alert and always in search of resources to think, feel and learn more.
A MIDDLE EASTERN BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
I like Afra Al Dhaheri’s process and practice.