Title: Through the Lens of Contemporary Photographers: Aspiration Towards Modernity, a Resistance from Behind the Scenes in Iran
Stream: Arts - Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Fazilat Soukhakian, Utah State University, United States
Contemporary Iranian society is still struggling in its search for freedom and democracy despite a period of over 150 years since its modernization process initiated. In the 19th century, the King of Persia’s interest in photography led to the revealing of images of the forbidden bodies from within the most intimate and private places of andarun. This is how the private realm became public, and its hidden subjects became unveiled for the first time. The photographs of women from the harem in 19th century Persia could mark the birth of modern women in Iranian society. In the Naseri period, at a time of conservative culture, the concept of private was intensely guarded by the notion of male honor. The camera brought the private atmosphere into the public realm when forbidden images of unveiled women helped the invisible become visible in Iranian society. By contrast, how is an Iranian modernity being crafted in contemporary times by the country’s younger generations and how are its women able to establish an identity of their own? How are they reconstructing a new way towards modernization which balances between tradition and modernity? I will argue in this paper how photography in contemporary Iran is again bringing images of the private life into the public realm, this time showcasing the hidden society of the youth’s andarun as a means for revolting against their government. Despite the will of the State, these images of a new modernity are being constructed and spread throughout Iranian society.
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