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Home » ART[icle]S, Censorship Issue

Censorship Issue: Freedom of Expression Through Photography – Voices of the other half at the Rossi & Rossi Gallery

Submitted by on May 16, 2012 – 10:04 pmNo Comment

A photo from the exhibition.

What does it mean to be a young woman in Iran? The Omid Foundation explores this question through enabling disadvantaged women in Iran to use photography as a means of therapy. “Voices of the other half” is the product of a workshop with eleven girls led by Shandi Ghadirian, an Iranian photographer working at the Museum of Photography in Tehran.

“Voices of the other half” covers a wide range of women’s identities and issues women are concerned with in their lives in Iran. One of the girls in the project has dedicated her work to the role of the mother and the relationship between mother and child in beautiful intimate portraits of her sister with her newborn baby. Whereas another series lets you dive into the beauty routine of threading eyebrows and dying hair of Iranian women and a series with a girl confuses the viewer with the purpose of the ribbon. Is it a Fashion Statement or does the loosely bonded body express the tightening grip of censorship?

The question of beauty ideals is addressed in a series of photos with Barbies and other dolls, squeezed underneath shoes, covered to the neck in leaves or broken glass but still with an awkward toothpaste smile on their faces. The photographer poses questions about violence against women but also asks for the validity of beauty idols. How desirable is it really to look or be like a Barbie?

Another series pictures women’s silhouettes doing household chores like ironing and sweeping the floor, behind white sheets. The obstructed view expresses women’s invisibility in public life and exposes the difficulties of censorship on women’s opinion and needs in public debate.

The format of showing photo series rather than a single work per individual gives the women enough space to find their own visual language and develop their feelings and concerns into stories. The diversity ranging from documenting daily life to abstract expression of restriction on freedom or women in Islamic Society is just as astonishing as the quality and impact of the photography by these young women.

Shadi Ghadirian, the artist who led the workshop focuses in her own work primarily on her identity as a women living in Iran questioning the role of women in society and exploring ideas of censorship, religion, modernity, and the status of women, which is clear influence on girls work. She has had her work exhibited internationally in the Centre Pompidou and the British Museum and said that she cherishes the experience of the workshop.

The photos are on sale with all profit going to the Omid-e-Mehr Foundation, which hopes to fund more workshops like this to encourage women to find their own voice and discover their potential. Censorship of art in a narrower sense and of women’s opinion in a wider sense is a major issue in Iran, which makes this exhibition an inspiration to never be afraid to express opinions, ideas and feelings and finding your own voice to do this.

“Voices of the other half” showed at the Rossi & Rossi Gallery until 21 April. Ghadirian is part of another group exhibition at Rose Issa Projects, Kensington High Street, London from 17 April – 25 May 2012.



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