Iran, année 38: Photography Since the Revolution

Hard hitting imagery from post revolution Iran
Reopening of the university of Tehran. January 14, 1979. © Maryam Zandi

If you aren’t at this year’s Rencontres d’Arles, you will miss the highly anticipated exhibit of Iranian photographers work curated by Anahita Ghabaian and Newsha Tavakolian. The exhibition focuses on many aspects of life in Iran, but the one common thread is that the starting point is 1979.

Light & Soil, 2011. © Saba Alizadeh
Mourners, 2015. During the ceremony of Ashura, which for Shi’a Muslims commemorates the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the great imam and seminal figure for Shi’ites everywhere. © Ebrahim Noroozi

The curators explain the theme behind the exhibition, “These men and women, of all ages, use both photojournalism and staged images as an author would write non-fiction. They transform the unspeakable into images that express nostalgia, regrets, breaks, doubts and hope, thus showing the face of a new Iran. We have chosen a wide selection of work in order to offer our viewers a suitably wide panorama of Iran, as it is now, in its 38th year since the Islamic revolution.

The Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war which followed—both events that played a formative role in the modern history of our country—are, of course, present. Nevertheless, they are not shown in isolation or exclusion but in concert with themes that are of interest to many of our fellow citizens: identity, authority, the environmental crisis and aspirations for a different world.”

Shade of Earth. Talaiye, near the Iraq border, March 23, 2008. Every March, at the time of the New Year, hundreds of thousands of Iranian visit the old fronts of the Iran-Iraq War to pay their respects. © Abbas Kowsari

Iran has been an invaluable source for poetry and this exhibition shows that it’s also a cradle for impressive photography. If you can’t make it to Arles to view the show, don’t worry, Éditions Textuel/ARTE Éditions published a book that will be released this month.


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