فارسی

 
 
 
 

“With this project, I aim to discuss the impact of pictorial representation in the construction of culture, religion, and identity. I explore the physical landscape and human faces of contemporary Iran through large-scale colour diptychs and marquee images. The recent history of Iran familiar to most outsiders begins with the Islamic Revolution, and is followed up by a list of social restrictions imposed by successive leaders. This version of history is incomplete and offers only a narrow perception of the culture. As 2009 marks the 30th year anniversary of the revolution, more than fifty percent of Iran’s population is under the age of twenty-five. This new generation is steadily pushing against the set boundaries, fighting against the clergy and working hard to hold on to their traditions, while others are fighting against the surge of western popular culture as they struggle to find their own identities. The photographs in this series afford us a privileged glimpse of the vast social and economic strata of life in modern day Iran. From painted portraits of young martyrs slowly pealing from the exterior walls of mosques, to a still life of the ancient architectural remnants of the great Persian Empire, these photographs depict the multitude of ideologies that overlap Iran’s contemporary landscape. The people in the photographs are treated as individuals rather than archetypes: an old woman in her home, a group of young girls on a school trip, a child panhandler on the street selling gum. While each image contains its own narrative qualities, juxtaposed, they create a complex portrait of Iran, its landscape, and the people who inhabit it. In the context of Iran’s current political climate, juxtaposed against western media’s obsessive attraction to images of war and conflict, I feel that the absence of real portraits of Iranians compels me to promote greater understanding of my country of origin. Acknowledging a problem in ethnographic photography – cultural interpretation aimed at categorizing groups of people to prove theories of racial difference – it is important to show the complex relationships that lay beneath the surface of the image. These photographic diptychs have strong formal qualities, while forming an intuitive narrative with multiple points of entry. In this work, I deliberately refuse to romanticize my culture, and try to strip away the prevailing imagery of The Other- the desert, the veiled woman. Here, the complexity of Iranian society refuses to be reduced to the question of hejab, but instead must be understood in terms of the competing forces of tradition and change. In exploring the multiplicity of political attitudes, I aim to reveal the reality of life in Iran with all its contradictions and ambiguities, exploring the trans-cultural attitudes and habits that exist as a result of the expanse of globalization.”

Sanaz Mazinani