From 1975 until 1977, Iranian photojournalist Kaveh Golestan captured the lives of the women in Tehran’s red light district. Although primarily known for documenting war and conflict in the Middle East, Golestan’s project involving these women gives light to a different issue, one that has not seen the spotlight in years if not never in Iranian society.
“Some of the women were tragically charred to death during the blaze and several others were arrested and later faced the revolutionary firing squads in the summer of 1980.”
Golestan’s series, comprised of 45 black-and-white photographs, reveals an honest but explicit look the women that lived this lifestyle in a region formerly known as Citadel of Shahr-e No. Due to their rare and insightful qualities, the photographs where immediately released in the Iranian newspaper ‘Ayandegan’ and later, in 1978, they were shown at the University of Tehran. The exposure of such imagery, however, alarmed authorities, and the exhibition was shut down after 14 days without an official explanation. A year after the exhibition, the Citadel (the place where Golestan shoot these photographs) burned to the ground during the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Today, these photographs remain as records of Iranian history but also an a courageous and beautiful series of art photography. Today, Golestan’s “The Citadel”, an exhibition devoted to these women, will be showing at Foam in Amsterdam starting in March 21 until May 4th, 2014. Apart from the images, the exhibition will also feature Golestan’s personal journal entries and essays relating to his experiences traveling the region, illuminating the stories of the Citadel’s forgotten women. ( via Huff Post)
After her parents were murdered in Tehran, Parastou Forouhar was exiled to Germany. Just like her parents, Forouhar is critical of the Iranian government, and it is with this adherence to and separation from her Iranian identity that her work is based. Forourhar says, “The production of identity, and the repressive mechanisms by which it is reified, comprise the focus of my work. My homeland, Iran, is a constant theme in my artistic practice, but the conception is complex and continuously in flux. Beyond Iran, there is also the collective memory of Germany, where I have lived since 1991. When I arrived there, I was Parastou Forouhar, but I have since become ‘Iranian.’ Every space I inhabit is accompanied by a feeling of displacement.”
For her “Written Room” project, Forouhar covers the blank surfaces of gallery and museum spaces with Persian calligraphy. This creates an elegant aesthetic that is fragmented and fluid. “Whereas the white walls of the gallery room are raised to a universal norm and an unmarked instance, the Oriental ornament stands for difference or the deviating.The writing is also strange, if not alien, because it is illegible for Western visitors – as an ‘incomprehensible’ text it becomes a pure ornament. In defying attempts by Western visitors to assign it meaning, the script remains locked into its irreducible pictorial graphicness and indissoluble representation.” Even if one had a grasp of the Persian language, they would only be able to decipher fragments and syllables of the language that are not part of any linear order. Forouhar’s work ultimately seeks to bridge the gaps in her identity as an Iranian and German. (via fubiz)
The art of Ala Ebtekar is as simple as it is effective. Ebtekar was born in the United States and raised in California but retained a strong connection to the land of his heritage, Iran. You can nearly see in Ebtekar’s work a gazing at home from far away, a sort of portal. Ebtekar is definitely referencing the cosmic with this work. He says of the Sufi influence behind his work, “Sufis believe that existence is of two natures – both earthly and divine – and it’s that transition between these two states that’s represented by an arch. The arch could be in architecture, but it could also be a beloved’s eyebrow, and how that’s an entrance to that other space.” Ebtekar also subtly uses Western imagery in addressing this “other space” – you’ll notice some of these pieces printed on the back of science fiction movie posters.
The series Like Everyday of Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian is powerful in its simplicity. She created the images shortly after marrying her husband, and indeed the series explores her concerns associated with being a wife as well as gender roles. In the series figures appear to be veiled in patterned cloth similar to the traditional Iranian Chador. The figure’s face, however, is obscured or replaced with a household item, often one associated with daily chores. Ghadirian says of her subjects, ”My series is exactly like a mirror of my life and other women like me — my sisters, my friends, the women who live in this country.” Though the series specifically addresses Iranian women, the photographs capture more universal anxieties concerning gender roles – the anxiety that accompanies building an identity as a woman and a wife, navigating issues of power within a marriage.
AFRUZ AMIGHI was born in Tehran, Iran and is now based out of New York. Amighi uses her sculpture work to blend art and politics. In her recent exhibition’s “Cages” and “The Hidden State” she explores the turmoil of the middle-east.
In her work “Cages”, she reflects the tumultuous the political and social history of Iran. “Amighi casts her unique perspective into the confines of Iranian social, political and cultural institutions through incorporating cage-like features into several works made from base metal chain, aluminum sheet metal and wire. The alluring and provoking facades reveal a power to ensnare and entrap, creating a realm in which violence and tranquility collide.”
She hangs these in different fighting formations. “Mocking ornate chandeliers with their allusions to missiles and bullets, their numerical configuration represents the number of test missiles launched by the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past two years.”
A1One (aka Tanha) has claimed his influences to be as diverse as Australian Aboriginal art to Mayan narrative hieroglyphics, but what stands out most in his recent works is his strong connection to his Persian heritage and his Iranian homeland. A1One has been gaining recognition lately and rightfully so. His colorful, intricate scrawls on Tehran’s walls and canvases artfully blend Arabic calligraphy with current street culture, as well as address social issues around the globe.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with what’s going on with the political turmoil in Iran right now, and if you aren’t, there’s plenty to read about in the news. Here’s a video (it’s really quite beautiful) from Iranian Artists in Exile Youtube page. “… As you read these words, the people in Iran have taken to the streets in nationwide protests. Despite brutal government suppression tactics the Iranian people are courageously fighting for their rights. As antiriot police batons crush the bones of demonstrators whose only protest is election fraud, Iranians are screaming for the world to hear them: WE DENOUNCE MAHMOOD AHMADINEJAD!”