identity and art essay

One of the main exhibits at the Cantor Arts Center in Stanford, California, was She Who Tells a Story. Twelve renowned female photographers from Iran and the Arab World displayed their most avant-garde works in the exhibition (Gerald, 2015). The Boston Museum of Fine Arts staged the art exhibit on January 28, 2015. Shadi Ghadirian, an American-born Iranian, was one of the artists that referenced their identity through their work. Her photographic work reflected the many viewpoints of the women. She investigated the identity, portrayal, and story of Iranian women in her work (Gerald, 2015). According to Gerald (2015), Shadi Ghadirian took some portraits that an indicated matters of identity of female Iranian Women. Her iconic photographic series dubbed Qajar of 1998 includes nine photo prints comparison of young women dressed in traditional costumes made with them-forbidden items like boom boxes, makeup, musical instruments, illustrating the tension between modernity and tradition, freedom restriction, contrasting private and public lives.
Gerald (2015) indicates that Ghadirian’s photography work also included another artwork series, Nil (2008) that highlights the experiences of the Iranian women at their home during war. The photographs invoke the untold stories of waiting, anxiety, and loss (Sarah, 2013). The photographer’s series includes some images of bullets that protrude from a woman’s handbag, a military helmet hanging on the wall next to a headscarf, and a grenade in a fruit bowl. These portraits brought to viewers mind the complications of both female and male public personas and their private wishes. Ghadirian staged portraits established the foundation for other American artistes to tackle the issue of identity (Sarah, 2013).
Ghadirian’s ‘Qajar’ series was motivated by the 19th-century Persian emperor Naser al-Din’s wives. According to the artwork, the Qajar girls, just like the singers in the artists first images, appeal to have a blazing stubbornness (Sarah, 2013). The artiste’s compares the traditional backdrops and dress that is connected with the Qajar dynasty, which was in existence from 1785 to 1925 to present generation. The photos offer a glimpse of present Iranian women who are caught between the contemporary and their traditional identity. The artistes portray an identity of the Iranian women who’s trying to negotiate a contradictory mixture of the two worlds. The artwork illustrates the conflict between the new and the old and how the younger generations are presently living in Iran. The photos show that, although the current generation is trying to embrace contemporaneousness, they are still in love with their traditional culture (Sarah, 2013).
Ghadirian borrowed from the ancient historical backdrops from Tehran’s Museum of Photography that included a lot of Iranian national archives. She also got some period costumes from a fashion TV wardrobe, as well as a vacuum cleaner; it indicate the modern items that a young generation Iranian woman would have in their life while still being keen on their traditional clothing. These photos were to depict the current status of the women in the Qajar era, especially their provocative poses in their ancient photos. This, according to the artist will help American’s understand the identity of the Iran women (Emami, 2016).
After getting the critical acclaim globally, Ghadirian is one of the three Iranian photographers who continued to advocate for Iran as a significant audience for their artistic work. She has inspired many American natives who have come out in public to use artwork to express their identity (Gerald, 2015). Ghadirian’s staged portraits established the foundation for other photographers to address the issue of identity, including photographer Boushra Almutawakel, a Yemen native living America. Her photo series Mother, Daughter, Doll (2010) employs the veil in challenging social developments and the increase of religious radicalism that advocates for women including young girls to have their bodies covered in public (Gerald, 2015).

Emami, S. (2016). Iranian Women Tell Their Stories through Photographs. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from,
Gerald, B. (2015). She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from
Sarah, P. (2013). Shadi Ghadirian’s best photograph: Iranian tradition meets the CD player. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from,

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