The Ghajar dynasty ruled Iran from 1794-1925; and from its inception photography was popular with the elite, documenting women as well as men. The images from this period tend to share stylistic devices: people are posed, usually as individuals rather than groups, in the very elaborate settings of their homes, often sat next to or holding prized possessions or objects of status. In photos of this period, women were permitted to be pictured in less formal dress within the privacy of their homes […]
Inspired by 19th century photographs from the Ghajar period – the first portraits to be permitted by religious law – Ghadirian carefully reconstructed the opulent style of these images with the help of many friends: borrowing antique furnishings and costumes, commissioning the painted backdrops, inviting them to pose in the images.
Picturing each woman in a bygone era, each scene is jarringly interrupted by the presence of contemporary products – a phone, boom-box, hoover – pointing to a culture clash of tradition and progress. The women stare out from the photos with an unnerving directness, detached from their environment, and confident within themselves.
[…] In this piece Ghadirian’s surreal time-warp happens in reverse: the initial joke is that the 1980s radio is out of place in the antique setting, but it is the vintage scene and pose which is in fact much more modern. Ghadirian uses this subtle humour to describe a contemporary Iranian female experience of existing as if outside of time