exclusive interview with artist Sepehr Badiei

SEPEHR BADIEI @badieisepe

Can you tell us more about your personal background and how your family’s journey from Iran to New Zealand as refugee status has influenced your art and perspective?
I’m a queer artist having to escape my hometown (Tehran) at the age of 5 leaving a portion of family behind in Iran during the revolution marked a challenging and growing journey. I guess the influence I’ve had with art and perspective has since been deeply intertwined with contemporary social and political issues, notably emphasizing anti-establishment sentiments.

What inspired you to choose the slogan ‘Woman Life Freedom’ for your poster campaign, and how does it connect to the Kurdish independence and democratic confederalist movements?
Woman Life Freedom’ reflects the core values of gender equality, autonomy, and freedom, aligning with the Kurdish independence. This project was very close to my heart resonating with my own experiences as I witnessed my mum facing similar challenges in her past.

Your campaign celebrates the resilience and strength of women/ trans woman in Iran and beyond. Can you describe the themes and messages you aim to convey through this series of photographs?
Morgan white captured the images beautifully so easy to work with creatively and allowed me to flourish and focus on the campaign .
Themes: empowerment, diversity, unity.
‘You are powerful, unique, and not alone.’

Beyond London, do you have any plans or aspirations to take the “Woman Life Freedom” campaign to other cities or locations in the future?
Ah that would be a dream to have powerful images throughout in different locations including Iran.

Model Sarah Q embodies the cypress tree, and Dafni Krazoudi represents fire in your campaign. How did you select these models, and what qualities did you see in them that aligned with the message you wanted to convey?
Sarah Q is like the sister I’ve always longed for she’s an essential part of my chosen queer family. We share a remarkable harmony in our tastes in passion for music or the profound spirituality that binds us together.

Dafni Krazoudi exudes a radiant warmth spirit an open canvas creatively easy to mould. with a background as a movement director. She glides through space with the grace of a weightless feather.

One unique aspect of your art is the use of hair collected from women and transwomen from around the world. Can you elaborate on why you chose hair as a medium and how it relates to the recent ban of hair and beauty salons in Afghanistan?
I used hair as medium of unity. Different nationalities, uniting as the tree of life.
Beauty salons, a vital last public space for Afghan women, were banned. Focusing on rights of women are at the centre of life and liberty where Afghan students chanted ‘woman life freedom’ as a powerful slogan.

In your own words, how would you like the audience to interpret and respond to your “Woman Life Freedom” campaign? What message or impact do you hope to leave with viewers?
I guess to inspire others gender equality women empowerment and freedom of choice.
Create a world where all unite, inclusive , a future bright.

What is your career aspiration? Do you have any goals planned?
I don’t have such specific aspirations I live life in a embracing simple way navigating it mood by mood.

When you think about your style, what key components stand out as being significant to you?
Sustainability is important to me so I make an effort to get things directly either from young designers or vintage or auctions where you can find amazing pieces that you can pass down.

What does the concept of women mean to Sepehr?
My mother’s strength
her love so free
She raised us high with guiding light
Though she’s far in prayers she’ll be
forever near
Her strength
her love
I hold so dear.

When you have free time outside of work commitments, how do you usually spend it?
I love listening to music & finding new beats, buying groceries beautiful fruits & vegetables from my local shop or farmers market or even supermarket love buying produce nourishing both my ears and my soul.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Is there anything else you would like to mention?
I can’t wait for my next project. Exploring the intersection of future fashion and its connection to climate change’s psychological impact and the persuasive influence of colors, brands, and advertisements on consumer behavior.
Special thanks to UNCLE for wildposting posters & Big Sky Studios.