Deconstructing Communitas – Nabil Sabio Azadi

Nabil Sabio Azadi; Persian: Born 12 October 1991 is an Iranian-New Zealand artist who is based in Brisbane, Australia. He is known primarily for his book, For You The Traveller, a hand-bound travel guide.

New Zealand –

Emaho caught up with Iranian and inveterate traveller, Nabil Sabio Azadi to find out what his latest book is all about…


Emaho : What guided your choice in the varying fonts, the illustrations that you have selected for your book?

As with all of my art, For You The Traveller appeared to me fully formed in so many ways that I have never thought I am its creator so much as its co-conspirator or caretaker.

Of course, I have some clues regarding its physicality. I can see my love for the natural world in this book. I also read stories often when I was growing up in New Zealand, which detailed epic adventures undertaken together by friends; they instilled me with a very Homeric sense of longing for home (in a very unattainable and vague way).

This certainly would have influenced the premise of the book, and perhaps sometimes the appearance of the illustrations. The varying sizes of the texts and typography could perhaps be attributed to my love for Latin.

I work anoetically across every medium. It either matches what appeared to me originally, or develops upon it — I choose not to consider what was deliberate on my part. Mentally I eschew possessive pronouns in relation to what I do because I find them uncomfortable. I try to think in a way that is conducive to bringing more art to life. This means that considering how my ideas form too deeply is out-of-bounds (to use a term that I have reluctantly had to abandon since primary school).


Emaho : What do you think makes the book work, from an aesthetic point of view?

Perhaps it appeals to so many people because it looks rather anachronistic. I have never seen any book that looks anything like it. We all have better memories for stranger things, don’t we?


Photo credit: James Thorne.


Emaho : Every single copy of your book is handmade. What does it mean to you, to work on each copy, if you are preparing it for a stranger?

There is a fog of sweat, humidity, and rabbit fur in which I often lose myself. Sometimes I push through this and the intense concentration I have on making each book. It is a brief moment. I can almost conceive what it means that I am touching every inch of every book for every stranger that has stumbled upon the idea and found it beautiful and worthy. It feels wonderful.


Emaho : You’ve done remarkable work, for someone so young. What was your motivation?

Thank you. Whilst I spend much of my time alone and I’m always working, I’m still surprised about at the response I’ve received to my work. Every day as an artist is an exercise in the suspension of disbelief. For this book, I learnt how to draw which I had never before attempted. I have no inherent propensity for building [sculptures] but I teach myself. I am faithfully transcribing what I see in my head and hoping for the best.


Photo credit: James Thorne.


Emaho : Can you tell us about your earlier works? Is this book a cumulative result of past works you’ve indulged in or is it a completely different idea?

The crux of all my work across all media is my desire to provide people with a sense of communitas or solidarity; depending on the specific artwork, this might be through offering kinship or a sense of mutual understanding. In communitas can lead to catharsis which I believe is a fundamental quality that makes art pragmatic and therefore beautiful. These are the spiritual underpinnings of my work. I often try to express them visually through depictions of nature, natural products, human and animal gestures, urges and often failures. Failure is an interesting concept because it almost demands communitas and catharsis as an antidote.


Emaho : What is your favourite part in the process of producing a book? What is the most tedious part?

The moment that is most tedious is also my favourite — it is when I turn the steel bolts so they form a vertical line of equal-arms crosses. As I do this I wonder how I came to be so over-exacting.


Photo credit: James Thorne.


Emaho : Were there any moments when you were intimidated while conceptualising the book?

In a somewhat impressive achievement I’ve managed to make myself believe that at during the book’s production, it would be two more weeks. I sustained this over months.


Emaho : What made you choose your subjects?

The people inside For You The Traveller were invariably more important to me than the places. I met them all on my own travels as I circumnavigated the world. They are all kind souls and searchers. There is a curiosity and love they have for this world which I admire deeply. Many of them unwittingly became mentors for me on the road. I am so glad to share them with you.


Photo credit: James Thorne.


Art & Culture Interviewed By Aishwarya Shridhar

Images By Nabil Sabio Azadi



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