Vanessa Safavi is a recipient of the 2012 Illy Present/Future Prize. Of Iranian and Swiss descent and born in 1980, Safavi lives and works between Basel and Berlin. An extensive traveler, she uses her journeys to get to know different cultures and to investigate concepts of ethnography, alienation and identity. Her interest lies both in detecting features of a universal nature of humankind, but also in how specific groups and their cultural identities can develop within a population. Her observations rely both on meeting individual people as part of a community, and on exploring the environment that influences them. Safavi incorporates her interest in social and political issues into her work. This results in the use of a wide range of disparate materials which she joins together, always with a special focus on selecting the right set of materials for a particular work.
Safavi combines multi-layered cultural and art historical references in the form of objects, materials, pictures and references, transporting them from the resources of her own multicultural background, her travels and her ethnological research. Her work makes reference both to Primitivism in twentieth century art and consumerist as well as pop culture.
From the series"about things that shouldn't be visible"