Young contemporary identities: Sara Berti & Elham Shafaei

Elham Shafaei was born in 1983, Rasht – Iran.
She received her B.A Bachelor of Painting (Arts) in Science and Culture University, Tehran, Iran. In 2010 she moved to Malaysia where she obtained M.A (Fine Arts) in Papermaking and PhD (Fine Arts) in Painting that examined the role of melancholia in creative life through studio research as well as a written dissertation. In 2016 she relocated to Sharjah, UAE, where she currently resides and pursues her studio practice. Elham is an exhibiting artist and she shows her art internationally ( Currently she works as the Co-Founder and Co-Editor at ContemporaryIdentities International Online Art Magazine. (

Sara Berti was born in Bologna, Italy, in 1982.
After studying in Bologna, she is currently living in Hungary after a period in Berlin, Izmir (Turkey) and in Sharjah (the United Arab Emirates). She is co-editor and co-founder of ContempraryIdentities, an international online art magazine ( She graduated in Sculpture and had a Master degree in teaching Sculpture from the Academy of Bologna (Italy). She exhibited internationally in more than 100 exhibitions. Since 2006 she is continuously working as an artist at an international level, exhibiting in personal and group shows, Art fairs and biennials. She was part of the 54. Venice Biennial representng Italian Art in Hungary. She regularly leads workshops at University level, as well in Museums and Art spaces. (Please, find more details

Elham Shafaei: Night, Digital Photography 21×29.7 cm, 2020

Sara Berti, Looking the sky, 2014, 3D printing pen plastic and metal, 315x12cm

2019 – Elham Shafaei, The complete freedom

Sara Berti, Verso Uno, 2011, Bronzo, esemplare unico 148x10x35 cm

Elham Shafaei, Breasts ritual Series, 2014, Stone carving

Sara Berti, Rebirth, 2005, Lagosanto (IT)

Sara Berti & Elham Shafaei
Interview by Massimo Fotino

Traduzione in

Ma.Fo. – An introductory question: who are Elham Shafaei and Sara Berti?

Elham Shafaei: I am an Iranian visual artist and researcher based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. I received B.A Bachelor of Painting (Arts) in Science and Culture University, Tehran, Iran. In 2010 I moved to Malaysia to obtain my M.A and PhD in Fine Arts. Currently I pursue my studio practice and I work as the Co-Founder and Co-Editor at ContemporaryIdentities International Online Art Magazine.

Sara Berti: I am an Italian artist now living in Hungary, after a period in Germany, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. I am Co-Founder and Co-Editor at ContemporaryIdentities International Online Art Magazine.

How did the idea of creating a magazine on contemporary art come about, what are the vision you want to pursue, and the message you want to convey?

E. Sh: We decided to create a quality international online art magazine to showcase emerging and established artists and provide a space for art writers since 2018. We published the first Issue on March 2019. Together with passion and having a mutual understanding we built ContemporaryIdentities as you can see today.

S.B: We unified our forces and experiences in the art world to create an active online platform where artists from different nations and stages of carrier can be showcased, with short art critiques from established art writers. We try to be more various as we can. Always not forgetting the quality of the works which is the main selection criteria.

Sara Berti, Turkish pillow, 2014.

The artists you host are often young talents from all over the world. What do you think is the situation of emerging artists today?

E. Sh: Featuring emerging artists beside the established once has been important to us since the very beginning. For young artists, entering into the contemporary art world is sometimes challenging. But, we strongly believe in the importance and effect of young artists. They burst the art scene with new ideas and creativity.

S.B: Never as now the number of artists in the world is high also because there is huge number of art school as well. There is really incredible value to discover and we want to help this. We though online magazine could be a good way and now with the Corona Virus situation  this way of presenting our artists is even more actual. Artists needs to know what is around them, and our worldwide view could be both useful for them together with their public.

Elham Shafaei, Photo credit Gebriela Ghillanyova

Besides being editors of an online art magazine, you are also artists. Would you like to describe your expressive path?

E. Sh: My studio practice can be summed up as a diary that notates my daily histories with different techniques, materials and processes. Each moment in the studio is a conscious decision to bracket myself from the practicality of life in favor of reflective indulgence in the ‘life’ of images. Currently, I’m working on a few projects at the same time involving different forms of expression:  painting, sculpture, installation, video and sound art.

S.B: My art path is trying to combine the old tradition and the Italian artistic bases with new aesthetic and new cultural horizons.

Is there a need for artistic research today? If so, what are the directions and areas of this research?

E. Sh: I believe there is a need today more than ever. Our era is a different one; people, including artists are thirsty for knowledge. I think nowadays art and research have stronger connection. I cannot specify any special area or directions, because there is a lot of different ways out there which different artists are trying to reach out.

S.B: More we proceed in building the new issues of the magazine, more we understand that the variety of proposal in art is really incredibly wide and active. We can state that the word is really full of Art or at least of artists with many directions in techniques and meanings. We can state that those artists create a visual text which is incredibly useful to understand better the present of the world. Art is still a fundamental heritage of the human beings and a documentation of the cultural and historical passages that we are going through.

Elham Shafaei, Homeland series, Penang, 2018, Ink on paper, Pen on cloths, Dimension variable

Your magazine deals mostly with pictorial or sculptural works, but it gladly makes excuses in other artistic genres. What is your position with respect to those (multimedia, photography, paint art, etc.)?

E. Sh: We are open to different fields and forms of contemporary art. As long as it fits to our selection criteria and we can present them through our media.

S.B: We try to give more variety as possible, but maybe we have this majority because it’s a mirror of the proportions in which art is still creating. Anyway we will try to present more as we can in balanced way the new media as well, funding them interesting as the old media.

Sara Berti, Photo credit Barbara Yoshida

You use the internet to spread the expressive content of artists. What are the positive aspects of this choice? And what are the disadvantages?

E. Sh: I believe it is all advantages, especially at this strange time. Today, accessibility is vital somehow. Being an online publication made it possible for us to spread ContemporaryIdentities around the world. We receive submission from everywhere on earth, which means we are there, we are connected and accessible

S.B: Being online help us to be smart and flexible, but we cannot exclude in the future to have more physical happenings, because publications or exhibition for examples are still a important way of connecting with the art public and to give credibility to art activities.

The world is going through a difficult time and art is involved in this problem. What do you think is the future of post-covid19 art?

E. Sh: I should say I am very happy to be an artist and a creative soul during this time of difficulties. It is difficult to say how the art is going to be but it has already affected on my way of thinking as an artist. I think art might find more connection with digital world.

S.B: Difficult to say, but probably online option will be maintained, and in this way we can say we had a good choice for the magazine already back in 2018. Maybe the future will be a balanced use of online and physical art activities.

Finally, your future projects. What surprises await us from Contemporaryidentities?

E. Sh: Actually we have an interesting surprise! We are going to expand our activity and provide more opportunities. Please be patient for now!  We promise to reveal the surprise when the right time arrives.