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.