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Shadi Ghadirian

Shadi Ghadirian (born 1974) is an Iranian contemporary photographer. Her work is influenced by her experiences as a Muslim woman living in contemporary Iran, but her work also relates to the lives of women throughout the world. Through her work, she critically comments on the pushes and pulls between tradition and modernity for women living in Iran, as well as other contradictions that exist in everyday life. She explores the topics of censorship, religion, modernity, and the status of women. Ghadirian gained international recognition through the series Qajar and Like Every Day in 1998 and 2001. She is living and working in Tehran.

Shadi Ghadirian was born in 1974 in Tehran, Iran. After graduating high school in 1988, Ghadirian studied art and photography at Azad University in Tehran, emerging from school with a B.A. degree in photography.

In 2000, Ghadirian married the Iranian photographer and author Peyman Hooshmandzadeh, who had also studied photography at Azad University.

In addition to focusing on individual projects, Ghadirian currently works at the Museum of Photography in Tehran.

Shadi Ghadirian has produced nine photographic series to date, titled Miss Butterfly, Nil, Nil, Be Colourful, Like Every Day, Qajar, Ctrl+Alt+Delete, My Press Photo, Out of Focus, and West by East. These series attempt to work through and reveal the issues that women face living in contemporary Iran while also bringing to light the complexities of negative stereotypes that these same women face coming from abroad.

Ghadirian first involvement group exhibitions, Group Exhibition (About Children) at Aria Gallery and Tehran International Documentary Photo exhibition, both took place in Tehran, Iran in 1997. Since then, the contemporary photographer has taken part in a diverse collection of group exhibitions all over Europe, North and South America, Northern Africa, Asia, and Australia as well as exhibitions in Iran and the Middle East. Her work has appeared at the Venice Biennale (2015), and many other prominent biennials and galleries.

Most notably, Ghadirian has contributed 13 photographs from her Qajar series to a group exhibition to “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World” which began in 2013. The traveling exhibition is a compilation of works by Ghardirian along with 11 other female artists that addresses the complexity of the Western stereotype of the hijab and internal, everyday struggles for women in the Arab world. “She Who Tells a Story” has been on at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2013, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in 2015, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh in 2015 and most recently at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., on until 2016 July 31.

Ghadirian contributed two photos from her Miss Butterfly (2011) series to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts' "Make Believe" exhibition that was shown from July 20, 2019 to January 20, 2020. The exhibition showed modern interpretations of folk tales and imaginary worlds more broadly. "Kay Nielson's Enchanted Vision: the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection" was a companion exhibition shown in an adjacent room. "Make Believe" also featured 4 other contemporary photographers: Hellen van Meene, Paolo Ventura, Nicholas Kahn, and Richard Selesnick.

In 1995, Ghadirian won a competition for a photograph from her Qajar series depicting two women in hijabs holding a mirror reflecting banned books in a shelf. However, the ministry of culture in Iran called the photograph “too contentious”, and her piece was disqualified from the competition. For this, The Guardian deems her a “rule breaker”.

On February 4, 2009, The Guardian named Ghadirian, “Artist of the Week 27”.

- Mishkaat January

Creative Head

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