In the most important photography exhibit of 2006, we get to see the images of twenty cutting-edge photographers practicing in Iran today. Taking in the sheer diversity of genres, approaches and techniques here will demonstrate conclusively that Iranian visual culture is vibrant, hip to every postmodern move—yet brutally serious and existential—and basically unrepressed; there is not a hint of regime propaganda and much mordant cultural criticism. The only shadow cast by authoritarianism is the taboo on addressing political issues head on; the artists make their points indirectly, often through searing reflections on personal existence. Representative of the contributors is Shakoufeh Alidousti, whose hyper-intense and highly contrasted black-and-white self-portraits show her in a chadour, with her piercing stoical and severely cropped face uncovered, holding up old childhood and family photos to make “the incomplete presence of woman complete.” (Michael Weinstein)
“Persian Visions: Contemporary Photography from Iran” shows at The Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington, (312)744-6630, through December 31, 2006.