INTERVIEW / ATEFEH KHAS

“My specialty ? I am an environmental artist !” Atefeh Khas
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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you and what do you do? What got you interested in art?

My name is Atefeh Khas.I am an Iranian artist. I am currently a second year MA student in Art Research in Alzahra University in Tehran, and I have my Bachelor in Painting from Shahed University in Tehran.

I am a member of an environmental artists group “Open Five” since 2005. My specialty is in Environmental Art. I have been participated in more than twenty three Environmental Art Festivals in Polour, Hormuz, Shoushtar, Uremia, Isfahan and Nowshahr since 2005 to present. My works have been exhibited internationally such as, Tirgan festival in Canada and Re-Fashioning Fiber at GreenSpaces, New York, USA. I also was selected for the Environmental Art Residency Program in South Korea in 2012. I have several projects related to environmental art with using different material.

2. Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?

Nature. It’s a pure place for my artistic inspiration. It’s also the place for finding myself. This is a place for the human who finds meaning in nature, who comes from nature, and will return to it again. All challenges of human life, all concerns and plights of modern life, can be forgotten in nature for a quiet moment. Traveling, exploring nature, moving beyond the stressful city life, human and natural, are some of the themes that I seek to explore in my work. Performance, fiber installation, site specific projects, film and photography are the varied ways I use to express this deep searching.

3. Which of your artwork pieces is your favorite? What inspired your works?

My Wig series are my favorites. It completely came from my heart and I really believe it. I wrote in my statement about this series that the earth is my mother who gave birth to me and someday I will be returned to it again. I borrowed the beauty from nature. She knitted my hair when I was born and now I want to give it back to her. So I knitted a wig with colorful yarn, and I wore it in different natural locations, or I gifted my hair to her in order to make a connection between its beauty and nature.

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4. What role does the artist have in society?

It’s a bit hard to answer because the role of an artist in a society is not clear. As an artist, I could make some changes in the society I live in, but not by myself. I need to work with a larger communities, other parties or organizations to get support.

To be helpful and make a change, I believe that an artist needs to do collaborative projects, a large and an effective work that moves people so that it brings awareness and change the culture and the society for the better.

5. What’s the best thing about being a woman artist?

At first, being a woman artist make you different. You have more possibilities to show your artworks among many men artists, especially when you are a woman artist from the Middle East. It is preparing a space to show my art work outside of Iran.

6. What is the most difficult part of being a female artist?

In continuing my previous answer, being a female artist has many problems too, especially in a patriarchal society. You need to prove yourself as an artist at first, then little by little you can work, but during the process of working, in each step, you feel that you need to prove yourself again. Because many times that I participate in the calls or events or competitions for the art my works don’t get accepted due to the patriarchy in the art world in Iran, therefore, I need to be connected to men artists to present my works beside them.

7. How do you manage in such a situation?

I learned to resist, and keep doing my work in any situation. I just don’t stop and keep working again and again. Someday, I can work freely without any problem.

8. Did you ever feel like giving up? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given at that time? What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

No, never. When I decided to become an artist, I knew about all obstacles and problems, and I accepted them and decided to change them within my artworks.

I think women artists all around the world need to believe in their power and support each other at first. We need to believe ourselves then others will believe us.

9. How do you look at your previous pieces?

I am happy how I started my practice and didn’t stop, but I feel that It’s not enough

10. How does your cultural background affect/ inspire your work?

My work has a great impact from my cultural traditional society. Therefore, it’s obvious that facing with the traditional customs in everyday life effect on my art practice. It’s inevitable to create art without seeing these matters.

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11. What is your dream project?

I really like to continue my art practice in Iran, and I hope I can establish an organization related to the art in nature.

12. What is up and coming for you, as projects?

I am a part of an online show in waterwheel project which will happen either 17 or 18 March about 7 hours. This is the text about it: This is a time-based work addressing climate change issue, particularly global warming.  I think that we must pay more attention to this problem, which is a man’s daily problem. Therefore, I made a video in which to focus on this important issue that many people ignore. In order to create a clear ice cube, I boiled water twice, to remove bubbles in water. Then, I placed the cube outside, and let it melt naturally. This happened from morning till evening, over an entire day. This happens every day on Earth on a big scale!

13. What do you want to do next?

For now, I am working on my thesis, which is about Environmental Art in Iran. I have to do it in the best way so that I can publish it as a book. It’s my hope.

14. Anything you want to ad here is very welcome! Thanks!

Thank you in advance for having this interview and thanks my friend, Minoosh Zomorodinia to complete the interview.

Reflection Series

I am interested in Light and Reflection.

To me, the reflection means to behold, and,

the light means element of behold,

On the other hand, to sight is reflection of existence.

This is light that clear every vice and repulsiveness and

has a reflection every beauty.

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Metamorphosis

Video Art by Atefeh Khas, 2012, Tehran, Iran

This is a time-based work addressing climate change issue, particularly global warming.  I think that we must pay more attention to this problem, which is a man’s daily problem. Therefore, I made a video focusing on this important issue, that many people ignore. In order to create a clear ice cube, I boiled water twice, to remove bubbles in water. Then, I placed the cube outdoor, and let it melt at natural temperature. This happened from morning till evening, over an entire day. This happens every day on Earth on a big scale!

Reflection of Nature

This is a box about 120x120x90 cm which is 100x100x70 cm inside, which an image of nature is seen. It hangs from the ceiling. In Fact, it is a very big light box that an echo- machine is installed in between outside and inside the box to prevent being seen by audience. There is a hole in the bottom that an audience can look through the box. When you speak loudly, your voice will be echoed and heard. It is like you are talking to nature and get response.

For more information, visit

Atefeh’s website,

Women artists of the world

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