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The Communism of Snails

11/26/07 By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

In the madness of all the big cities that many of us live these days, it is such a treat to come across or experience simple joy. Last Friday was just such a different day for us. First, as it was our Friday afternoon custom, we went to several galleries and our vision was smothered or burdened with what was on display, although the pleasure was more than the pain, until finally we came downtown and went to my yoga friend Sussan, where, jaye shoma khali (we missed you), we enjoyed a most entertaining European evening, good conversation, food and live music as our hostess and her friend entertained us with the accordion and piano and many of us joined in the sing song - it was so truly joyful and friendly even though we had not met half of the rest of the guests before.

Before we went to Sussan's, we stopped at the Haft Samar Gallery which is run by a lovely brother and sister, Ms. and Mr. Samari, both of whom are so kind and gentle and very supportive of young artists and photographers, without so much of the razzmatazz and packaging. This is why I like to go all the way down to their friendly gallery in the city centre.

There, we saw the photographs of Mr Hassan Rajabinejad Langharoodi who has been working professionally since about ten years ago, when he finished his degree in archeology at university and turned to his true passion, photography, which he had developed since childhood from a photo-shop near his school. The exhibition was titled Snails of Communism (what a sensational title, especially in this day and age!)

Hassan Rajabinejad Langharoodi

In the handout that I received from Mr Rajabinejad, I read that he used to think that photographing people's life was tough until he started to photograph animals. Snails are most fascinating creatures. They have a great peace and appear far from the madding crowd, they are devoid of all of the difficulties that we humans face. It took him three years to complete the photographs for this exhibition. All of them were taken in forests near his hometown of Langarood; this is the first series that he has done on animals.

When I asked him why he had chosen such a strange title for his exhibition, he told me those snails live in communes. We had a short discussion about the fall of communism and then he told me to pay attention to the first and the last pictures. In the first one a snail comes into life and in the last one it is in decay!

He likes to work on different projects and he regards his photographs as documentation. This is his first major color exhibition in Iran and his previous exhibitions included a look at traditional public baths, Maal (horse and cattle) dealers, Chamkhaleh Beach (in the North of Iran) and his next exhibition will be about another interesting animal, and we have to wait and see!

He was born and raised in Langarood in the province of Gilan in the north of Iran and he is still looking for his partner and soul-mate in life. I found his work touching, and despite their simple frames the beauty of his senses came though his photos.

Here are some samples of his soothing photographs.

Haft Samar Gallery - 25, 5th St., Kooh-e-Nour Street, Motahari Ave. Tehran Tel. 88731403

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