Poignantly named 'For You The Traveller', artist Nabil Sabio Azadi's new book is a collection of notable names, stories, telephone numbers, and hand-drawn maps as a 'Human Guide to the World'. From metalworkers, farmers, artists, writers, and scientists to designers and shipwrights from around the globe, the hand-bound rabbit fur books feature insightful snippets to local regions in Greece to Kenya to New Zealand. Dazed spoke to Azadi about the nomadic lifestyle and the gifts it bestows...
Dazed Digital: Why was it important to put this book together?
Nabil Sabio Azadi: A friend of mine recently observed that as person I'm very preoccupied with this idea of communitas — the intense, sacred way we all share and interact with each other over our lifetimes. I'd never even heard of this area of anthropological study but I had to agree with him because if there is one thing I know concretely about my art, it is that I'm trying to give people a sense of solidarity with it. This book is probably the most tangible way I've done it yet. For You The Traveller as a guide to the world and its people facilitates companionship and I see solidarity in that. Beyond bringing people together, the book is also a collection of parables: accompanying each person's telephone number is a lesson from their life. To me solidarity also means communicating universal experiences and emotions back to people in order to create a sense of communion.
DD: How did the project first come about and who was involved?
Nabil Sabio Azadi: I blame an afternoon in June — barely six months ago — when I was sitting in the sun with the dog here on the East Coast of Australia and the whole book hit me in the head. I'm not really an intellectual artist and my work doesn't come from any calculation. Like many people, I also live in a busy internal world where things present themselves to me however I personally feel that I'm sort of expected to bring them into existence. I am proudly just the General Contractor. Usually I end up working with photography and sculpture so in this instance I was being asked to do some things I'd never done like illustration, book-binding and working with fur. I told myself to buck up, started that night, and have spent every day on it since.
DD: What are the greatest things one can learn from a nomadic lifestyle?
Nabil Sabio Azadi: That the winds of change tend to favour the sails of those who politely yell out to it, "Nice to meet you!"
DD: Why do you encourage people to get out on to the road?
Nabil Sabio Azadi: There is kinship and adventure to be found on it. The road can be home and if you transact with people justly, they will help you.
DD: What has been your favourite/craziest memory from travelling in 2012?
Nabil Sabio Azadi: There have been waterfalls, tablelands, caves, wild animals from deer to kangaroos but, as many people would say, the most revelatory and absurd experience has been falling in love and getting a dog.
DD: The best place you have ever been to?
Nabil Sabio Azadi: The best place I have ever been to existed for approximately ten minutes and it was a wooden gazebo in Royal Park, Melbourne which a small group of close friends and I ritually dressed in long streams of toilet paper, drenched in hand sanitizer and set alight. It looked like a burning palace from heaven and the lashes of fire that night remain the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I am told that the gazebo has since been rebuilt.
DD: Your dream destination?
Nabil Sabio Azadi: I would like to go inside the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave in Southern France. It has some of the earliest known cave paintings — they're incredible. Horses galloping across stone walls that were drawn about thirty thousand years ago. I wonder about Paleolithic people and what similarities we might have had to them emotionally. Anyway, no one is allowed in the cave in order to protect the internal atmosphere so give me a ticket to Easter Island instead and I'll show you a happy man.
Portraits by Angela Ferro
For You The Traveller is available for purchase online here