Shadi Ghadirian: Photography of the Surreal


Looking for inspiration for my new Ghajar (Qajjar) Persian dance costume I flipped throug many images on the web and found to my big surprise the photographs of Shadi Gharidian. Have a second look on them, because they do not reveal their mystery easily.

 I quote here the text of the Saatchi Gallery in the UK (I couldn't describe it better):
The Ghajar dynasty ruled Iran from 1794-1925; and from its inception photography was popular with the elite, documenting women as well as men. The images from this period tend to share stylistic devices: people are posed, usually as individuals rather than groups, in the very elaborate settings of their homes, often sat next to or holding prized possessions or objects of status. In photos of this period, women were permitted to be pictured in less formal dress within the privacy of their homes, and some members of the Shah’s harem were even photographed in tutus in accordance with his predilection for the ballet. Though Ghadirian’s images replicate the settings and traditional costumes of this time, her women are presented in a much more modest way in their postures and poses, in adherence to more ‘contemporary’ custom.

  Inspired by 19th century photographs from the Ghajar period – the first portraits to be permitted by religious law – Ghadirian carefully reconstructed the opulent style of these images with the help of many friends: borrowing antique furnishings and costumes, commissioning the painted backdrops, inviting them to pose in the images. Picturing each woman in a bygone era, each scene is jarringly interrupted by the presence of contemporary products – a phone, boom-box, hoover – pointing to a culture clash of tradition and progress. The women stare out from the photos with an unnerving directness, detached from their environment, and confident within themselves.
 Ghadirian’s Untitled from the Ghajar Series is shocking not only for its anachronistic props, but for the sheer brazenness of her subject: defiant in her gangsta posturing and holding a ridiculously large ghetto-blaster. Ironically, this image is most in keeping with her historical references, showing the self-possessed attitude of her sitter. In this piece Ghadirian’s surreal time-warp happens in reverse: the initial joke is that the 1980s radio is out of place in the antique setting, but it is the vintage scene and pose which is in fact much more modern. Ghadirian uses this subtle humour to describe a contemporary Iranian female experience of existing as if outside of time.

Shadi Ghadirian was born in 1974, Tehran, Iran and lives and works in there. 

She has my age and I try to imagine the life of a woman in those very different circumstances.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Widget by LinkWithin