Let Us Believe in the Dawn of Spring

Portraits from Iran

Let Us Believe in the Dawn of Spring / Portraits from Iran presents seven outstanding young photographers from Iran. Their different works from various photographic collections paint a multi-layered panorama of contemporary Iranian society and culture. 


Either pastel coloured, black and white, poetic or documentary and direct, these seven diverse artists’ individual perspectives on Iranian society go beyond stereotypes. Their powerful works range from examining personal relationships to exploring multi-layered social and cultural changes and political legacies in the multiethnic state of Iran. They are a special portrayal of the pain and pleasure, longings and aspirations of different generations in Iran undergoing radical change.  


The title of the exhibition is inspired by the poetry collection Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season by the Iranian poet and filmmaker Forough Farrokhzad. The poetry of this iconic artist was the poetry of protest – protest through revealing the innermost world of women. Poetry and Art in Iran are not just documentation of history but an influential component of Iranian culture. 


Curator Anahita Sadighi is a Berlin-based gallerist and cultural creator. Anahita Contemporary focuses on intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogue and is dedicated to underrepresented themes within art and cultural history, aiming to make them more visible.  


This online exhibition is dedicated to all the women of Iran. 



With a documentary vision, Sina Shiri steps into the streets and takes snapshots of subjects in the throes of everyday life. He photographs ordinary people or everyday subjects in public or urban settings which exhibit the geographical characteristics of the city of Tehran. Each frame is an arrived-at perception of reality as if we were beholding an artificial vision of urban moments. Some subjects are aware of the presence of the camera and others are not. Sina Shiri captures a unique moment when the subject appears to have no sense of control over his or her body; hence, the gesture of each character is much closer to their personality. 



Focusing on women and their appearance in private and public spaces, Mahboube Karamli creates long-term engagements with her subjects and involves them in her process of documentary portrait photography. She explores subjects, situations, and contexts related to her personal experiences. By engaging in conversation with subjects while aiming to minimize the effect of the camera’s presence, Mahboube Karamli shows how her protagonists look at her as a woman, a friend, a stranger, a teacher, or a photographer; to reveal the relationship between her subjects and herself. 



Hashem Shakeri‘s pictures speak of emergence and departure, of memory and history. Shakeri creates a unity between the form of landscape and buildings with the posture and body language of people. With his narrative, the artist creates an apocalyptic world. The hopeless people on the fringes of society appear in his photographs like the protagonists of a fairy tale, detached from time and space. They become eternal heroes and heroines of their own story. Poetically beautiful, Hashem Shakeri depicts their bitterness and pain. It is as if they are floating away from dystopia. 



Trained in architecture, Shayan Sajadian’s photography does not shy away from challenging subject matter. Over the course of the past few years, Shayan Sajadian has used photography as a medium to spotlight and story-tell about Iran’s marginalized communities: from capturing people who live around him near the historical site of Persepolis to taking straight-up portraits of the country’s shunned drug addicts and homeless. Empathy, hope, and awareness are the hallmarks of Shayan Sajadian’s courageous work which gives a voice to Iran’s voiceless. 



Despite the depiction of sensitive and tragic subjects, a playful approach to material has become the signature of Ghazaleh Rezaei’s work, which puts light at its center. A few of the innovations she has used in her series include the use of a pinhole camera, re-photographing her own and others’ photographs, manipulating them with color and turning them into paintings. In her recent series, she draws an analogy between the Iran-Iraq war and the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran. Ghazaleh Rezaei is both: a photographer and a researcher. She is as interested in practical photography as she is in the history of art and geopolitics. 



Between 2019 and 2022 Tahmineh Monzavi explored the everyday life of Iranians in various societies. Her current work explores the roles of women in urban and rural settingsespecially in the coastal provinces of the Persian Gulf, including Sistan and Baluchistan. Her series focuses on Baluchees Iranian women’s lives and their social roles and engagements in the culture of Baluchistan. Through her images, she captures two major themes: firstly, how these women have remained isolated from the development of the modern state system; secondly, how they have kept their cultural practices while adapting to a new environment. 



Alborz Kazemi is a photographer who has a detailed, curious, and inquisitive look at his family, his surroundings, and his place of residence. Alborz Kazemi has two different approaches to the medium of photography and the use of this material. He is faithful to analog photography in his work. The length of time that exists between the taking of the photo and its development and printing is significant to him. By manipulating, cutting, and collaging the photos he took of the bodies of the people around him, he brings the image he used to represent as a photo, closer to a three-dimensional object. 

For more information about the artists and their work, visit anahita-contemporary.com