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Thirty Years of Solitude: Iranian Women Photographers and Film Directors


16 February - 11 March at New Hall College, University of Cambridge

Thirty Years of Solitude is an exhibition of photographs by Iranian women and a small selection of films by Iranian women-Directors. Sixty photographs by thirty artists, some of whom are internationally renowned and seven short films and long-features by the most prominent Directors, attempt to reveal the feelings of anxiety, isolation and the sense of loss that the Iranian society at large and women artists, in particular have been experiencing in the last thirty years, living in Iran. In order to capture this existential feeling, the Diaspora is not included in this exhibition.

Photography is a particularly political art form, and in a country where the political is so mingled with the religious, it has acquired a quasi-ontological dimension. For instance the 8-year war with Iraq (1981-1989), which was a Jihad, where thousands of children and teenagers ran to martyrdom, was not a favourite subject of the media at the time, and few people outside of Iran realize how devastating this war has been. Bani-Etemad's GILANEH is a new version of MOTHER-COURAGE, epitomizing the ever self-sacrificing mother figure in Iranian culture.


Iran is a grand and vast country, full of contradictions and complexities and ambiguities. The ambivalence of Persian poetry, especially Hafez, which speaks of and to, either the beloved or God, in turn highly sensuous or all spiritual depending which way the poem is read, is an everlasting form of expression in the arts, particularly in photography which is but a reflection of the realities of daily life.


The duality Image/Reality, also omnipresent in Persian philosophy, now finds a fertile ground for expression in photography: every image has many layers of different meanings, as in Mehraneh Atashi's self-portraits where she is standing bare-footed on photos of her childhood.


But the most interesting aspect of photography by Iranian women is the sense of humor with which the artists tackle the main problems they face in life, here and now: Islamic paternalism, loss of identity, isolation from the rest of the world, war...


Photography Exhibition

Be Colourful by Shadi Ghadirian

Saturday 17 February to Sunday 11 March in the Long Room, New Hall.
Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission free.

Film Programme

16-17 February and 23-24 February in Buckingham House Lecture Theatre. All welcome; admission free on first come basis. No advance bookings. Details

Friday 16 February at 8.15 p.m.:
introduced by Goli Taraghi
House is Black (directed by Forough Farrrokhzad) and Old Man of Hara introduced by director Mahvash Sheikholeslami

Saturday 17 February at 2.30 p.m.:
Bou Bou in Tehran (directed by Maryam Mehrjui) and Juste une Femme
(directed by Mitra Farahani)
and at
7.30 p.m.:The Day I Became a Woman (directed by Marzieh Meshkini)

Friday 23 February at 8.15 p.m.:
introduced by director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad

Saturday 24 February at 3.00 p.m.:
Friday Afternoon
introduced by director Mona Zandi-Haghighi
and at
7.30 p.m.:introduced by director Niki Karimi A Few Days Later

The College is grateful for the support of Cambridge City Council, the Soudavar Fund of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge, and the British Embassy, Tehran

See also CRASSH Film Seminar on 24 February


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