Residency Unlimited

Vanessa Safavi

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Safavi combines multi-layered cultural and art historical references in the form of objects, materials, pictures and references, transporting them from the resources of her own multicultural background, her travels and her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.


Chert, Berlin, 2013, “After the Monument comes the People”; Rückwand Kunsthalle Basel, 2012, I WISH BLUE COULD BE WATER”; CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, France, 2012, Les Figures Autonomes”; Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, 2012, “Resort”; Kunsthaus Glarus, 2011, “No More Ice Cream”; Pro Helvetia Cape Town, 2011.

Group exhibitions in 2012 include: “Going Places” curated by Alexandra Blättler, IAAB-Projektraum, Basement, Münchenstein, Switzerland, “Swiss Art Awards 2012”, Basel, “Liste, the young art fair”, together with Hannah James and Erik van der Weijde, Basel, Andrea Kvas, Vanessa Safavi, Roma the Road to Contemporary, Rome. “Junge Kunst in der Schweiz – 30 Jahre Manor Kunstpreis”, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, “The Thing Itself”, Abbt Projects, Zurich.

Vanessa’s 5 months residency (February through June) is made possible with support from iaab, the International Exchange and Studio Program Basel, in collaboration with Galapagos Art Space. The residency program is generously financed by private and public sponsors.

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