Contemporary Images of Iranian women

Andy Newman

A friend of mine from Iran recently sent me this link to an exhibition of photographs by Iranian woman artist, Mahgameh Parvaneh.

The collection, entitled WHITE, shows ten sensual and erotic images of women, but carefully within the acceptable limits of Iranian censorship. Interestingly, the image with a musical instrument seems to show the woman’s hair, but this is in fact a wig, as to show her own hair would be un-Islamic.

As megaphone diplomacy between Iran and the United States escalates; and as the Danish cartoon row suggests a growing chasm of understanding between the West and the Moslem world it is good to be reminded about what a rich and complex contemporary culture Iran has.

Parveneh’s images transcend the constraints imposed upon her. In a very surprising way given that almost nothing of the women is explicitly shown, she suggests that the women behind the veils have lost nothing of their individuality, passion or physicality.

She has in the past shown exhibitions on Women’s prisons and the clothes of Tehran prostitutes, yet despite this controversial material she has an established mainstream reputation in Iran.

Notwithstanding the extremist nonsense from their government, and the popularity of their anti-American stance among ordinary people, day to day life in today’s Iran is increasingly influenced by the same cultural themes as the West.



March 2006

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