by Shahrooz Shekaraubi
Aftab recently had the pleasure of interviewing Artemis Akchoti Shahbazi, an Iranian-born Swiss artist, residing in the United States. Artemis Akchoti shares some insight on her process and the state of her art. To stay updated about Artemis please visit http://www.artemisakchoti.com.
Describe a particular moment in time when you were inspired to create a specific body of work?
Artemis: My body of work about Iranian history was inspired by my ignorance. When I realized that I needed to understand who I am and what brought me where I am, the work started.
Is Color an instinctual or intellectual choice for you in your art?
Artemis: Instinctual. Color is the time when my mind rests, I relax and play.
Do you have strong feelings about Iranian history that infuse your depictions of it?
Artemis: No, until I have an inspiration for the piece. That emotion is often a mixture of excitement and joy related to the discovery. My pieces come out of a need to understand my own destiny, to be less ignorant. I also really wanted to have direct informations about Iranian history and, bypass, as much as I could, third party informations. Thus, all the information I use is photographs and travelogues. Up to now, there is maybe one exception to my rule of using only direct information: Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh.
What was the driving force behind “The Death of Siamak?” Why Siamak?
Artemis: “The Death of Siamak” is part of my work on the Shahnameh. Contrary to the traditional miniatures, that are a narrative, I wanted to capture the portrait of the first kings of Iran. Siamak died before becoming a king. He ruined this ambition of mine to capture him as a king and I could not get over the fact that he died to soon. So the piece is a narrative of his death, as in traditional miniatures, just in a wooden board format.
Do you think artists should speak about their work or let the art speak for itself?
Artemis: Both. I think art is a wonderful medium to create dialogue among people. It makes the unconscious speak. The piece becomes independent from the artist and the viewer sees things that might have been unconscious for the artist and the viewer.
Would you say your work is politically motivated in general?
Artemis: Absolutely not. Just a need to understand and discover my own truth in an intuitive way. My works highest aim is to be an eulogy to Iranian history and culture. I believe thathistory should be seen as a whole and not fragmented to short eras. To explain briefly my point, did you know that Zahak was Rostam’s grand or great grand father? If there was no evil Zahak Iran would not have the greatest hero Rostam.
What’s something that continues to intrigue you about your work?
Artemis: I love to learn and, I love people, I love Iran… and I know so little so the potential to be intrigued seems still infinite.
Can you tell us about any of the projects you have coming up?
Artemis: Since 2014 I have been collaboratively working with a wonderful writer on the encounters of the West with Iran through history, from Shah Abbas to Reza Khan. I feel very blessed for this collaboration and am very excitedand proud of this project. I hope to be able to complete it and show it to all of you soon.