Shadi Ghadirian

A mix of tradition and modernity in a photographer's images of Iranian women

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Capturing the contradictions in everyday life, Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian draws on her environment and culture to create her work. Born in 1974 in Tehran in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ghadirian “fell into photographing women” after completing a B.A. at Azad University. Soon after, Ghadirian gained an international audience for her innovative images, depicting Iranian women in stark contrast to the way most Western media portrays them.

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“Quite by accident, the subject of my first two series were women,” admits Ghadirian. “Perhaps the only mentality of an outsider about the Iranian woman is a black chador, however, I try to portray all aspects of the Iranian woman.” The results, two exceptional collections, reflect the duality of a modern Iranian woman’s life.

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The first, “Qajar,” features women in headscarves interacting with items thought to be typically Western—a ghetto blaster, Pepsi can and bike helmet—posed against traditional Iranian interiors. The “Like Every Day” series takes an image of a woman in a chador and replaces her face with an everyday household item such as an iron, dishwashing glove or cooking pot. “I wish to continue speaking of women because I still have a lot to say,” says Ghadirian. “These are my words as a woman and the words of all the other women who live in Iran, where being a woman has its own unique system.”