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Iran Today

12 Photographic Journeys - Iran in the 21st Century
15 October - 12 December 2003

In addition to their artistic and aesthetic value, the photographs in this exhibition provide snapshots of everyday life, episodes in the life of people living in the cities, or the workings of a rural family. It will inform the curious spectator about the restrictions, habits and lifestyles of both rich and poor, without any idealization or dramatization.

Some of the photographers such as P. Houshmandzadeh, Omid Salehi, Abbas Koussari are already well known for their photo- journalistic achievements. Some younger photographers will be exhibited for the first time.

This exhibition will undoubtedly help to expose the UK public to a side of life in Iran, which is not evident in the current media coverage that Iran receives or the Iran that is shown in the films of directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Tahmineh Milani, Rakshan Bani-Ettemad and others whose films have captured the attention of so many outside of Iran.

This exhibition presents twelve photographic voyages through Iran in the twenty-first century. The ten participating photographers have each chosen a different aspect of daily life in their country: a cafe, a bus trip, a shopping centre, a "living martyr", the clerics etc. This kaleidoscopic vision of Iran takes the viewer to the very heart of the variety and contradictions of a people among whom nothing seems to be in its place. A mosaic of contrasts appears in behaviour and attitudes, juxtaposing a world at the same time modern and archaic.

Themes in the work of certain of our photographers overlap; others lay stress on a particular aspect of life. But one theme runs through them all: the woman. She is everywhere. The Iranian woman perhaps exists, perhaps unconsciously, at every level. While under the rule of the 'hijab', she still appears in the streets, in the shopping malls and cafes with her make-up and her scarf lightly slipping from her head. She tests the limit of the 'hijab' and emerges from the images to be like young women everywhere in the world.

The participating photographers are:

Mehraneh Atashi
Hana Darabi
Bahman Jalali
Farzaneh Khademian
Arshia Kiani
Abbas Kowsari
Yalda Moaieri
Javad Montazeri
Omid Salehi
Hamideh Zolfaghari