Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography @ Gallery 44
May 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
As it seems, a good portion of this year’s CONTACT programming directs it’s focus on the concept of national character. More specifically, Iranian identity is one particular thematic strand that links quite a few of the CONTACT 2012 exhibitions. Gallery 44’s Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography is but one of the expositions that either hone in on Iranian nationalist paradigms or aim to showcase the country’s vibrant art scene. Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography features the work of Samira Eskandarfar, Amirali Ghasemi, Abbas Kowsari, Zeinab Salarvand, Arman Stepanian and Sadegh Tirafkan; seven Iranian born artists whose work presents a broad perspective on art in the Middle East but is still united through social circumstance and the photographic medium.
Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography, curated by Andrea Fitzpatrick, deliberately elaborates on the more typical artistic representations of Iranian culture, i.e. issues pertaining to the feminine sphere, the positioning of women in the social hierarchy and the notion of veiling. Two of Gallery 44’s stand out photographic series present altogether different outlooks on Iranian identity by capturing the lives of everyday, secular men. Abbas Kowsari’s “Masculinity Series” offers up a very specific window on the activities of male bodybuilders. The series of photos employs oversaturated colouring as well as dramatic lighting in order to further emphasize the staged nature of the contest at hand. Sadegh Tirafkan also looks to examine Iranian masculine identity as he uses his camera to capture the world of amateur wrestling. Set against white backgrounds and positioned in elaborate, Mannerist-like poses, Tirafkan’s work calls attention to the sitters’ bare bodies as well as their awareness of the fact that they have an audience. Within these photographs, the men wear traditional national costuming – a choice that highlights the geographical setting and, according to Tirafkan, provides “a subtle questioning of tradition and what this heroic masculinity means in a very patriarchal society.”
Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography showcases both contemporary male and female artists who are actively documenting their surroundings and seeking to reveal true national subjects.
Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography runs until June 9, 2012
– Stella Melchiori