Arts & Culture

Riot Grrrl Goes Tehran

On January 30th, Unveiled: New Art Form the Middle East opened at London’s Saatchi Gallery. A collection of recent works by Arab and Iranian artists, the exhibit documented the extent of social criticism engaged in by photographers, painters and installation … Read More

By / June 23, 2009

On January 30th, Unveiled: New Art Form the Middle East opened at London’s Saatchi Gallery. A collection of recent works by Arab and Iranian artists, the exhibit documented the extent of social criticism engaged in by photographers, painters and installation artists working in the greater Muslim Levant. From the Arab-Israeli conflict to religion, homosexuality and gender, Unveiled was both inspiring and an educational opportunity for Westerners unused to associating the Middle East with such radical creativity.

Of all of the artists on display, the work of Tehran photographer Shadi Ghadirian was the subject of specific emphasis by the exhibition’s curators. Used in promotional literature, featured prominently in the show catalogue, one can understand why. Ghadirian’s photos are both documentary and subversive, playing with traditional representations of Muslim femininity, and simultaneously expressions of intense, gender-specific suffering. An Iranian Cindy Sherman? Not exactly, but the sensibility is indeed shared.

As the post-election protests continue on in Iran, the following four photos of Ghadirian’s work, taken last winter at Unveiled, do a good job of tying together today’s upheaval with the artist’s own reflections on the status of women in post-revolutionary Iranian society.