Shadi Ghadirian, from the series 'Qajar'

Shadi Ghadirian, from the series 'Qajar'

Shadi Ghadirian
Born Tehran, Iran, 1974. Lives Tehran
From the series 'Qajar'
1998
Gelatin silver print
Museum no. E.351-2010
Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the V&A and the British Museum

Shadi Ghadirian was among the first students to graduate in photography from the Azad University, Tehran. Her work addresses concerns of Iranian women of her generation, exploring ideas such as censorship, religion and modernity, often with a wry humour.

The series 'Qajar' is based on a style of photograph made during Iran’s Qajar period (1786–1925). In those portraits, sitters posed with props representing their aspirations. Here, the sitters wear costumes that approximate Qajar fashion, but the objects they pose with are jarringly modern and western – a mountain bike, a stereo or a can of Pepsi. The contrast makes a comment on the tensions between tradition and modernity that women in Iran face today.