TRAVELER REVIEWS

Traveler

The Angels and the Traveler:

An Exhibition of Photographs by Kamran Ashtary

On Display at the New York Foreign Press Center May 17 through June 23

These remarkable and unsettling photographs were taken by Kamran Ashtary, an Iranian born Dutch photographer who spent the last four years traveling between Amsterdam and New York City. They mine the tension between the ordinary and the horrific, between beauty and dread: The reflection on a simple dressmaker’s mannequin raises the specter of Nazism; a blindfolded woman from the 1930’s is trapped to an electric chair as her contemporary materializes out of air. Even the most sheerly luminous of these images -the “Angel” images of handsome women and men suffused in a golden light and floating before our eyes- have a disturbing edge. Does the camera offer us intimacy or distance? Or both? Whatever the identity of the angels, in a very real sense, we viewers are travelers, wandering through these images between near and far, past and present, the ordinary and the exotic.

Ashtary’s ability to put together disparate objects, media and time, is realized in the seeing and the set-up of objects, newspapers, archival material and film. Miracles happen here for technical reasons; his photographs are not the results of tricks in the darkroom, but single exposures using projections, props and models, and a combination of natural and tungsten light with long exposure time to achieve an atmosphere where history and metaphor, dream and reality slide into one another.

Ashtary’s work has been exhibited in New York City, Amsterdam, Leiden and San Jose, and published in magazines, newspapers and books around the world. He is the founder and director of The Children’s Photography Project, an intensive program that introduces inner-city children to the art of photography, and gives them the technical skills to tell their own stories through pictures; “The View From Here”, an exhibition of more than 100 photographs by these youthful photographers, has been exhibited in New York and California and featured on CNN and NHK in Japan. Ashtary studied at Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and Cooper Union in New York.

The opening reception for “The Angels and the Traveler” will be Wednesday, May 17th, 1995 from 5:30 – 7:30. The exhibition will be on view May 17th through June 23rd.

Review photographs provided on request.


CHADOR Reviews

Chador

My sisters grew up without forced hijab. In the Iran of their childhood, some women wore hijab. Some did not. Our mother always wore a headscarf. She kept a flowered chador by the door. She didn't ask her daughters to wear the traditional Islamic dress. It was the State that asked them, that forced them into the veil. CHADOR is a project that represents my struggle understanding what happened to my sisters, to us, to Iran. In it, I examine my childhood memories, fact, fiction, and change.

Featured in Neuland Magazin No 10: Unveiling Iran (2010) and in Hollands Licht (2001).


TRAVELER

Traveler

Now it feels like I was so fresh in Europe when I made these photos. My life in Iran was so close and so far. There was no internet. Phone calls were expensive. Really expensive. The war between Iran and Iraq was barely over. And Europe's past was unfolding around me. It was giving up its mysteries. I imagined a time traveler. Someone who saw the past, present, and future all at the same time. This time traveler saw Nazis in the streets, carried a suitcase filled with gangsters and ghosts, visited landscapes of comics and cold. At the time, I was a short 5-hour flight away from Tehran. But the trip was a time I could not, would not travel to. My time traveler, however, could make any trip.


CHADOR

Chador

My sisters grew up without forced hijab. In the Iran of their childhood, some women wore hijab. Some did not. Our mother always wore a headscarf. She kept a flowered chador by the door. She didn't ask her daughters to wear the traditional Islamic dress. It was the State that asked them, that forced them into the veil. CHADOR is a project that represents my struggle understanding what happened to my sisters, to us, to Iran. In it, I examine my childhood memories, fact, fiction, and change.

Featured in Neuland Magazin No 10: Unveiling Iran (2010) and in Hollands Licht (2001).

Related Post

ANGELS

Angels

These images were made in the studio. There is no photoshopping or double and triple exposures. It’s all there in the studio: the water, the floating, the models.
I don’t know why I started this project. Was it simply the beauty of what was possible? What I could do with the camera? Was it a poem I read about Florida? So many things came together. I know these images contain violence and gentleness simultaneously. The angels might be drowning. They might be floating. They might even be swimming.