Between Hope and Chaos, 165 years of Iranian Photography

The Quai Branly Museum presents the second PhotoQuai, the trendsetter biennial event dedicated to non-Western photography until November 22, 2009. Catch it if you can.

I was inspired to create this poster here and the clip at the end of the post:

ahmad ali photoquai iranian green poster paris michele roohani

Some of the images were breathtaking and I would like to share them with you.

abbas kowsari photoquai iranian photography

The above image is from Abbas Kowsari; I call the next one by Gohar Dashti, “tea and tank”!

gohar dashti tea and tank michele roohani photoquai

The Artistic Director of the Photoquai biennial is my friend, Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh, Iranian founder and owner of the Silk Road Gallery, the only establishment in Iran dedicated exclusively to photography.

anahita ghabaian photoquai 2009 artistic director michele roohani

These two women were photgraphed by Bahman Jalali, one of the two curators of the exhibition:

bahman jalali musician women photoquai michele roohani

More ambitious than the biennial itself, is the homage given to a sample of 165 years of Iranian photography, in the museum. It gives an overview of Iranian photography from the end of the 19th century, with the portraits from the Qajar era, up until the most contemporary works by major Iranian photographers. An uneven, discontinuous road full of great surprises…

qajar women naser el din shah michele roohani photoquai iranian women 19th century

The above photos were taken by Naser Al Din Shah himself, a photography enthusiast, and the following ones are by Armenian-Iranian photographer Antoine-Khan Sevruguin:

photoquai iranian qajar women Antoni Sevruguin michele roohani

I love this shy Tar player:

photoquai iranian photography Antoni Sevruguin tar player michele roohani

The exhibition was especially interesting to me in its depth if not breadth of the older photos. I love these cute children photographed with their father in early 20th century peeking out of their hejab:

photoquai iranian photography family Antoni Sevruguin michele roohani

The  exhibit spills into 20th century with masterpieces like Kaveh Golestan’s images of Iran Iraq war:

kaveh golestan iran iraq war soldier with quran photoquai michele roohani

This visual storytelling will continue in the Musée de la Monnaie, museum of the French Mint and Treasury until December 20th. The exhibition is called “between Hope and Chaos” dedicated to 30 years of Iranian photojournalism, the three most recent generations of Iranian photographers between the 1979 Islamic Revolution and 2009.

I would look for my favorite works exhibited by Newsha Tavakolian:

newsha tavakolian photoquai naghsh rostam snow michele roohani

I prefer this one that I got from her site—there is something otherworldly about Persepolis under snow…

newsha tavakolian persepolis under snow michele roohani

and Jamshid Bayrami’s:

iranian women parying jamshid bayrami michele roohani photoquai

Photoquai tries to highlight and promote artists unknown or little known in Europe encouraging cross-cultural dialogue across the globe.

reza deghati photoquai biennale commissaire de l’exposition pour l’asie micheleroohani

A promenade along the Seine at quai Branly had been transformed into an open-air exhibition of photography where 50 photographers, chosen by the likes of Reza Deghati, the phenomenal Iranian photographer, exhibit their work.

Watch a great clip in TV5 here (even if you don’t speak french!)

165 years of Iranian photography here

PhotoQuai, Quai Branly Museum here

Iran, between Hope and Chaos here

4 thoughts on “Between Hope and Chaos, 165 years of Iranian Photography

  1. Dear Michele:
    Again a lovely post with a happy ending, my dear friend Reza Deghati’s portrait.
    Photography is the observed in the eye of observer. It is the love in the eye of beholder.
    It is a very sensitive action. You can show the beauty, the ugliness, or the beauty of the ugliness depending on how you look at things. You are a good photographer for you understand your choice and your responsibilities and the message you want to communicate. I have observed this is your works.
    I am in search of beauty and I rather look at things from the beauty perspective, no matter what they are. I do not see ugliness in things therefore the beauty is always there for me. For me the message a picture can convey is very crucial in my choice. If a picture disturbs someone, to me, it is not a good picture, for a good photographer must raise hope, love, and peace not by showing the dead but by showing the alive, not by showing the ugliness but by showing the beauty.
    A difficult task to do. Reza is a good example of this achievement displaying hope and love and peace amid war and hopeless poor.

  2. Merci de m’avoir fait découvrir Reza Deghati. J’aime beaucoup la photographie de Persepolis sous la neige qui semble rendre ce décor à la nature. J’apprécie l’idée selon laquelle la photographie a pour vocation d’enregistrer un moment de l’Histoire de l’Humanité ou de l’histoire personnelle. L’image fixe du portrait ou du paysage sollicite plus notre imagination ou notre nostalgie que le mouvement du film. Ce couple buvant du thé à côté d’un char d’assaut en est un bon exemple. Un film nous imposerait une histoire alors qu’avec cette photo nous pouvons créer cette histoire.

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