Born in 1980 in Ahvaz, western Iran, Gohar Dashti draws on her memories of growing up during the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) and her experiences living and working in Iran. Much of her practice involves staging and photographing fictional tableaux to convey the pervasive impact of violence and loss on society. She gained recognition for her 2008 series Today’s Life and War, comprising scenes of a man and woman engaged in mundane activities. She returns to the landscape in her compelling series Iran, Untitled.
While pursuing graduate studies in Tehran in the early 2000s, Dashti would travel to Ahvaz every month to see her parents. As she traveled the long distance home, the vastness of the countryside provoked a paradoxical sensation of claustrophobia, as the mostly barren landscape seemed to reflect her feelings about life in Iran. For Iran, Untitled, she composed tableaux of people clustered in the middle of a nondescript site. Unlike in Today’s Life and War, props are used sparingly. The tanks, soldiers, and barbed wire are gone, and attention is drawn to the figures, their lack of interaction, and subtle differences in posture and expression. Each scene is rendered in muted tones, emphasizing the atmosphere of quiet isolation in an arid landscape. Absent any conclusive narrative or specific location details, these photographs also hint at the tension between humans’ need to form communities yet maintain a certain insularity and distance.
Untitled, from the series Iran, Untitled
Gohar Dashti (b. 1980)
Iran, 2013 (printed 2018)
Ink-jet print, pigment based on paper
80 × 120 cm
Purchase—funds provided by the Jahangir and Eleanor Amuzegar Endowment for Contemporary Iranian Art
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S2018.4