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Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
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This Artist Makes Mirrored Towers To Create Epic Optical Illusions

Picture of Olivia Costanzo
Updated: 3 November 2016
Babel Tower and Mirrored Ziggurat are Shirin Abedinirad’s most recent installations. As she continues to utilize mirrors in her installation pieces, she experiments with light and movement, resulting in optical illusions.

Shirin Abedinirad is an Iranian artist based between Florence and Tehran. She began her studies with painting and began to delve into fashion, graphic design, and conceptual art. She was introduced to modeling while studying at Dr. Shariaty University in Tehran, which influenced her movement towards engaging in performance art pieces as well as creating her own work that addresses the topics of sexuality and self-identity. While the two installation pieces emulate biblical or spiritual temples, the interpretation of the pieces should not be solely religious.

Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad

Mirrored Ziggurat was the predecessor to Babel Tower, which is her most recent installation in the Dasht-e Kavir desert in central Iran. With Babel Tower, Abedinirad took the concept behind Mirrored Ziggurat, and in collaboration with Italian designer Gugo Torelli, added a mechanical component to create movement triggered by the environment.

Mirrored Ziggurat / Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Mirrored Ziggurat | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Mirrored Ziggurat / Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Mirrored Ziggurat | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad

‘The Mirrored Ziggurat has seven levels that represent seven heavens. For me, mirrors amplify this paradise, giving light; an important mystical concept in Persian Culture, and a medium creating an optical illusion.’ – Shirin Abedinirad on Mirrored Ziggurat

Mirrored Ziggurat / Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Mirrored Ziggurat | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad

The piece was installed in Sydney for the Underbelly Arts Festival in 2015. The Ziggurat’s design is an allusion to the ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia, where the temples were built tall and wide to connect the earth and the sky. It is believed that this connection brought humans nearer to the gods. The installation not only offers a transformative view of the self but also one’s environment.

Babel Tower / Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad

Babel Tower is named after the Babel Tower that is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis. After the great flood, God’s people built a city within the grand Tower of Babel that reached to the heavens. According to the story, God bestowed different languages on all the people and scattered them around the world.

Babel Tower / Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad

Abedinirad’s Babel Tower is another mirrored ziggurat, but what makes it different from Mirrored Ziggurat is that it is equipped with sensors and gears that allow it to react to temperature and light. The nine tiers of the tower can all spin independently on an axis. With this movement, the tower is multiple facets representing a whole, just as people who speak multiple languages comprise humanity of a whole.

Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad
Babel Tower | Courtesy of Shirin Abedinirad

Due to the fact that the placement of the Babel Tower was primarily unplanned, Abedinirad and Torelli took down the installation shortly after they built it. The three-foot tower is currently in Abedinirad’s bedroom, but she is considering re-installing the piece in New York City.