“Me, She and the Others” documents women born in Iran after the Islamic Revolution. I have photographed these women in three distinct contexts: (from left to right) at work, at home, and out in society. Despite being obliged to adjust their appearance in certain environments, women remain an influential presence in Iran’s culture.
Gohar Dashti received her M.A. in Photography from the Fine Art University of Tehran in 2005. After studying photography in Iran, she has spent the last 12 years making the large scale of her practice concerning in social issues with particular references to history and culture through a convergence of interest in anthropology and sociology. She tries with her own means to express the world around her. Her starting point is always her surrounding, her memory, but with her very personal perception of things. She tries to trace her relationship to society and the world in it’s most sensitive way. Her practice continuously develops from life events and connection between the personal and the universal, the political and the fantasised.
She has participated in several art residencies and scholarships such as MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH, USA (2017), DAAD award, UdK Berlin, DE (2009-2011); Visiting Arts (1Mile2 Project), Bradford/London, UK (2009) and International Arts & Artists (Art Bridge), Washington DC, USA (2008). She has held various exhibitions around the world, being shown in many museums, festivals and biennales. Her works are in many collections including Victoria and Albert Museum, London (UK), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (JP), Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston (USA), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (USA), National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (USA), Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), Chicago (USA) and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (FR).
Forgetting is so long, 2016-2017
“Defacement is the confrontation with death and dislocation…”—Michael Taussig, Defacement
They say we die two deaths: the first is our actual passing; the second is when the last person who remembers us takes their final breath. Family photographs, vessels of memory, are integral to extending this quasi-life. They show a mother, a child, a past self, full of in-jokes and the mundane meaningful only to a select few. But divorced from their origins, these emotion-ridden images become unknowable and lost in translation, for they are intrinsically entwined with the intimate memories of someone. These images are timeless because photography can forever capture a moment—so much so that they have outlived their families and purpose, becoming orphans. As we drown in an overwhelming visual culture, what place does an old family photo have outside their original home?
In Forgetting is so long, I collect abandoned, anonymous family photographs, enlarge them past their familiar size, and paint over them. I paint to disrupt, to reimagine, to re-enliven these individuals until I can either no longer recognize them or their presence is too piercing to continue. Family photographs are sacred relics to their loved ones, but unmoored the images become hauntingly absent. Anthropologist Michael Taussig states that defacing these types of objects forces a “shock into being;” suddenly we perceive them as present, revered, and piercing. By mixing painting with photography, I lengthen Roland Barthes’ “moment of death” (the photograph) into some semblance of purgatory. Not alive but not quite dead, each person’s newly imagined and altered portrait straddles the lines between memory, identity, and death. They are monuments to the forgotten.
All works in this series are mixed media paintings (oil-painted photo prints), mounted on panel.