My most recent work, “It’s hard to kill” project, has been informed by this fact that my parents just have a few photos that present them before the 1979 Islamic Revolution In Iran and I am so obsess with those photos that we do not have as long as I’ve remembered.
Iran’s revolution began with a popular democracy movement and ended with the establishment of the world’s first Islamic state. Before the Iranian Revolution, opposition groups tended to fall into three major categories: constitutionalist, including National Front (Iran), Marxist, and Islamist. All those three opposition participated in the 1979 Revolution but gradually after victory, the Islamist party that had the majority, started to put other parties away, by slandering and condemning then arresting, forcing to exile and/or execution.
My father had been a member in National Front party that disbanded couple years after the revelation. So Like all over the world, parties’ members occasionally took photos in their meetings and parties after meetings. When they took the photos it considered a documents for their high social dignity, but after the political switch, photos became some documents against them.
30 years ago, a few years after the Islamic revolution in Iran, my father burned a lot of photos that referenced his membership in that specific political party. My father and others burned these photos due to the risk of being arrested. Of course the act of disappearing photos was emotional and not that much logical in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. But it shows the fear and anxiety that the society experienced.
I use other people’s family photos to picture my Imagery regarding the moments that my father burnt the photos. Photos that probably in a fearful ritual were burned to protect my father or at least not to harm him. I am making my work based on a true story that happened over and over during years for different people from different nations, after social revolutions.
The halo around some of the individuals in the photos, caused by burning, brings into attention a few important questions about memory, history and their representation: How does self- censorship affect our memory and personal history? Is the halo a sign of loss of history or a sign of bringing back the aura to the photographs? Does it omit the individual from history, or add non-representational characteristics to that?
Old family photos, as an object, always have this aura for me. In “It’s hard to kill” project not only do I reproduce photos, but I also manipulate them by inserting my story in them. I try to make everything look deceptively real, to invite the viewer to fully believe in what I have created. Is the aura still there?
This project includes photos, sculptures, and videos. I will display a collection of sealed jars that contain the ashes of burned photos. There will be a short narrative below each ash container that describes the relevant photo that was burned. And a video that expresses more about the burning process.