|Too Loud a Solitude | 2015, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
“Shadi Ghadirian: Retrospective” at the Lyon Municipal Library (La Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon) is a major exhibition celebrating the work of influential Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian. Presented in association with the Silk Road Gallery in Teheran, the exhibition surveys Ghadirian’s entire photographic oeuvre from 1998 to the present day and includes a new video work titled “Too Loud a Solitude” which the artist describes as “a slice of instants, similar to photography, in which the subjects move.”
Since graduating from Azad University in Tehran with a B.A. degree in Photography, Ghadirian has established herself as one of Iran’s leading creative talents. She is best known for her evocative staged portraits which address a wide range of issues including female identity, censorship, and gender roles. Drawing inspiration from her own life experiences, Ghadirian uses humour and parody as the points of departure for poignant investigations into the paradoxes of women’s lives in Iran.
According to Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh, associate curator of the exhibition and Director of the Silk Road Gallery, in the late 1990s Ghadirian became one of the first Iranian photographers to change people’s perceptions of Iranian art and contemporary society. “Using a unique style of expression, she began contradicting the harsh and brutal images commonly seen and associated with Iran, challenged Eastern social dilemmas and how the world saw Iran, through the language of art.”
On the occasion of “Shadi Ghadirian: Retrospective,” Somogy Editions dÁrt has published a retrospective monograph of Ghadirian’s work (available here and here). It is the first retrospective monograph to bring together her works and different series from over fifteen years of her career. To find out more about her work and the exhibition at Lyon Municipal Library, which is on show until January 9, 2016, BLOUIN ARTINFO got touch with Ghadirian and asked her a few questions.
You were born in Iran in 1974 at a time of great conflict in the region. What impact have the events of the generation of Iranians that you belong to had on your work as well as the development and trajectory of your career as an artist?
The Islamic revolution was the first and most important event of my childhood which I have a vague recollection of. At only 4, occupied with my childhood fantasies, I was thrown in the midst of a political turmoil that had swept over the whole society. Since we lived downtown I could often hear the commotion and chaos outside and could see the anti-Shah writings and slogans on the street walls, where they remained till I learned how to read 3 years after. After that the situation calmed down at least for me, but that only lasted a short while until the war broke out in 1980.
At first the war was far from home and near the borders but it slowly crept in and disrupted our lives. My teenage years were spent with the sound of air raids and explosions. I remember how the horrifying sound of bombing and missile attacks woke me up in the middle of the night, and how I thrust myself into my mother’s arms, my only safe haven at the time. I graduated from high school around the same time the War’s end in 1988, the city was covered with photographs and murals of martyrs and was not very hopeful about continuing my education. My two older sisters had studied art so I was somehow more familiar with it, so I picked art and photography as my major. I had two reasons for this the first was that I knew more about photography and the second that it was quicker; all I knew then was that photography was about looking at things creatively and more carefully.
The book “Shadi Ghadirian: Retrospective” is published on the occasion of your exhibition at the Municipal Library Lyon. What works appear in the exhibition and what do they reveal about your practice?
In this exhibition are all the series of photographs that I have created. There is also a new work which I will be showing for the first time. It is a video with the title “Too Loud a Solitude.” This exhibition will show how I started my art career and how it has continued until today.
In your work you explore your status as a woman living in Iran as well as the broader social and cultural implications of womanhood. What do you want to convey and express with your work and how do you aim to achieve this with the images you create?
I try to tell the different stories of Iranian women, which is somehow my own story too. I want to show a woman from different points of view. Women’s issues are important for me! I don't know how I could help and make the situation better with my photos! But I hope to make some changes, which I know is hard work.
You use a number of different pictorial devices and a range of symbolic imagery to convey your message. What are the sources of your imagery and from where do you draw inspiration for the different ways you pose, compose, and construct your images?
These pictorial devices come directly from my life! I believe that we are living in a society with huge contrasts. So I just look at my environment! It is very easy for me to look and think and talk about the closest things to me.
Iran continues to remain a hotbed of political, social, and cultural tensions. What do you believe are your responsibilities and obligations as a female Iranian artist and what is your view on the broader role that art has to play in resolving the current issues that Iran faces?
I don't think art can solve anything. The only thing that we should do is to help people to look around and at themselves. Helping people to have a better view and make them think is like a full-time job for me. That is why I prefer to show my photos not just in the galleries! I love to show my works in public places where more people can pass and see them.
|West by East series| 2004 , C-print: 100 × 70 cm , Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
|Ctrl + Alt + Del series | 2006, C-print: 40 × 60 cm, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian,Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
|White Square series | 2008, C-print: 75 × 75 cm, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
|Nil, Nil series | 2008, C-print: 75 × 75 cm or 75 × 110 cm or 110 × 75 cm, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
|Like Everyday series | 2000, C-print: 50 × 50 cm, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
|Qajar series | 1998, C-print: 40 × 30 cm and 90 × 60 cm, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
|Miss Butterfly series | 2011, C-print: 70 × 100 cm or 100 × 70 cm, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
|Be Colourful series | 2002, C-print: 90 × 60 cm, Copyright Shadi Ghadirian. Courtesy Silk Road Gallery and BLOUIN ARTINFO.|
Via BLOUIN ARTINFO