Through the Lens of Contemporary Photographers

By: Fazilat Soukhakian  

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Western media portrayed Iran as a backward Islamic society, emphasizing the return of the veil in its streets. Recently, many scholars and journalists have been shocked by the vast discrepancies between their preconceptions and their local observations after discovering the streets of Tehran. Through a visual analysis of photographs from contemporary Iran, I explored how the Iranian youth are reconstructing their identity by creating an underground lifestyle. The youth is exploring ways to balance tradition and modernity from behind the walls of their private spaces, using an underground lifestyle to form reconstructed modernity. Resulting out of their search for individualism, they rebel against both the Islamic Republic and the influences from the West. Photography is the tool of choice to bring images of the private life into the public atmosphere, revealing the underground hetero society of the Andaruni, the most intimate and private parts of people’s lives. Photography is used as a means to rebel against an oppressing regime and demand change while preserving the anonymity of rebellious individuals. The feature of obscurity is imperative in the power of the image as a tool of resistance, resulting in the mass distribution of images highlighting this new modernity within Iranian society. These images also provide a basis on which the West can reevaluate its preconceptions, resulting in a renewed international impression of Iran based on factual photographs exhibiting this generation’s aspirations to create their own modernity, paving the way for their own future.

Iran, Photography, Desire, Resistance, Youth, Rebellion, Modernity, Private, Underground, Protest
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Fazilat Soukhakian

Assistant Professor, Art & Design, Utah State University, United States
Utah, United States

Fazilat Soukhakian is an Iranian female artist and photographer who is currently an assistant professor of photography at Utah State University. She considers herself a visual storyteller who observs and records her concern regarding social and political issues that surround her as a means for social change and justice. Her work reflects on important issues concerning gender inequality, gender segragation, and the loss of national identity. Her work has been shown throughout national and international exhibitionas and she has recived a multitude of awards and recognitions.