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Ey! Iran: of Contemporary Iranian Photography in (Exhibition in Australia)

Gold Coast City Art Gallery  
30 September – 5 November 2006

Opening event 6pm, Friday October 6

For many in Australia, our understanding of contemporary Iran is immediately connected to images of world conflict and tension.  The perception that it is a culture closed to the west and culturally isolated is however dramatically changing, and artists and filmmakers have been at the cutting edge of this shift.


Ey Iran!  will be the first exhibition of its kind to present recent contemporary photography from Iran in a major exhibition in Australia. The exhibition presents the work of 17 artists working in photo media based either in Iran or as expatriates who have left the country and continue to make work that is informed by their Persian heritage. Artists Hossein Valamanesh, who lives in Adelaide and Sadegh Tirafkan who now lives in Toronto, are just two examples of acclaimed artists who deal with major issues of identity, gender, urban life, popular culture and social restrictions within and outside Iran.


Through their subtle yet powerful work with its richly layered visual languages, it is possible to see past the stereotypical images and into the lives and experiences of ordinary people – their street lives and private lives – contemporary identities intimately tied to an ancient culture and its traditions.


The art of photography has developed in parallel with the highly regarded art of film making in Iran. In the same vein that contemporary Iranian filmmakers portray their vision of Iran with a compelling quiet reserve, the work of artists selected for this exhibition communicates to international audiences with the same subtle boldness.


The photographic medium arrived in Iran in the early 1840s as diplomats from Russia, France, England and Germany brought the technology to the reigning Shah - whom had a strong personal fascination with the medium. Historical collections of plates and photographs in Iran are today a valuable source of documentation of the lives of Persians in the mid to late 1800s.

Throughout the early 1900s photography as a medium evolved much in the same way as European and American artists and collectors approached techniques and experimented with new found zeal thanks to the innovations with film and portable cameras.


In the mid 1970s the Tehran Museum of contemporary Art began to acquire significant art works from around the world but much of the archives and collections were then in hiatus for the next two decades.


During the 1980s and much of the 90’s Iranian photography was centered around documentary photography as regional conflicts such as the Iran Iraq war which lasted eight years, took centre stage and preoccupied the hearts and minds of those affected by the war.


Recently galleries such as Silk Road Gallery, alternatives spaces such as Parkingallery and Azad University’s dedicated space provide much needed exposure to Iran’s new generation of artists. Although the manner in which art is marketed and publicised is different and on a much smaller scale compared to the West; a thriving artblog community and an innovative approach to DIY spaces promises to spurn on a growing art scene.



Internationally, over the past six years European audiences have seen numerous group exhibitions of Iranian art staged by institutions and curators alike and in 2004 American audiences were introduced to contemporary Iranian photography for the first time with an exhibition titled Persian Silver touring currently until 2008.


Ey! Iran presents an exciting opportunity for Australian audiences to now view work by artists such as Bahman Jalali who is one of the more senior artists in the show. His series Image of Imagination, 2003-2006 spans over a hundred years of history with references to the Qajar period collection of daguerreotypes of courtesans and the more recent reactionary responses from a minority of Iran’s population.


I have been exposed to many images by little known photographers around the country. Those that I could keep, I have held as mementos, and others have left their marks on my imagination.”  Bahman Jalali


The exhibition has been curated by Iranian born artist Mandana Mapar. Bridging social and geographical boundaries in the development of this exhibition she travelled to Tehran to select work and seeks to link artists in Iran with audiences in Australia in a spirit of cultural exchange.


After showing at the Gold Coast the exhibition will go on to tour throughout 2007 & 2008. For details of venues contact the gallery.


The exhibition is a major highlight of the inaugural Queensland Festival of Photography running throughout September - October in 2006. 11 of Queensland’s art institutions come together to deliver a dynamic series of exhibitions celebrating a diversity of Queensland’s top photo-media artists. The festival encompasses an engaging public program that includes 11 exhibitions, a 2-day symposium, media projections and intimate artist talks that cater to a wide range of public interests.

For details of Festival events and exhibitions go to


Official Opening Friday October 6 2006 at 6pm

Complimentary refreshments on arrival, then a cash bar will operate.

RSVP acceptances only: 07 5581 6567 by 20 September 2006

To be officially opened by Anne Kirker, Freelance Curator and Writer

Image caption: Image of imagination, 2003-2006



135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise, Queensland Ph: 5581 6567



... Payvand News - 9/21/06 ... --

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