Tehran: Gohar Dashti, Of hope and hopelessness
Blood is the symbol for distress in the "…collective memory of a people who have suffered silently for generations and tolerated so much torment." Iranian photographer Gohar Dashti's statement for Slow Decay continues "The agony of which, little by little, has wrapped their souls, much like a disease that, bit by bit, disintegrates their body."
Slow Decay is a somber look at mundane moments and non-happenings. Aloof and lacking drama, the images stare at the viewer with deadpan acceptance that life is hard. Each person seems to hold a secret and Slow Decay tells us they are shared, not just by the people of Iran, but possibly by everyone. Some decay is very public, some is private, but every life has some decay.
Her images, Dashit says are "…about my experiences and background, but I explain and express the feelings of many people in our society. It is at once my story and the story of a generation."
Dashti's new series is certainly not uplifting, nor does it explicitly offer hope for change or a light at the end of the tunnel. Rather Slow Decay highlights the constant and often subconscious scarring that a person's environment has on their psyche.
Based on her artist statement for the 2008 series Today's Life and War, Dashti would probably disagree with the suggestion her newest series lacks a sense of hope. The statement reads: "While her couple does not visibly express emotion, the pair nevertheless has a sense of perseverance, determination and survival. I create moments that capture the irony and ongoing duality of life and war without precluding the possibility of hope."
It is possible her life of perseverance and determination has taught her to recognize hope in gestures and glances much too subtle for those of us who grew up in relative freedom and without war or political oppression. Certainly the figures in her images convey a resilience that doesn't look like acting and it could be said resilience requires an element of hope.
Silk Road Photo Gallery
Until October 18, 2011.
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