|Wed Jun 22 2016, 7:00pm|
“I have always been obsessed with childhood photo albums. One day I realised that at the same age, around 13 or 14, the photos end – there is a blank space where our parents stop dressing us up and taking our photos,” explains photographer Newsha Tavakolian about the inspiration behind her photo series. “I came up with the idea of finishing people’s albums, taking photos of their day-to-day lives to fill in the gap.”
Indeed, the images capture slice-of-life vignettes – a little girl in front of a birthday cake, children joyfully running through a forest. At the same time, one or two haunt with the subtext of the unspoken. A woman stands, eyes downcast and hands clenched stiffly at the side; another, surrounded by sharp branches, looks off to the side, while a man enjoys a contemplative cigarette as smoke curls around his just glimpsed profile. Looking at her work, it is clear Tavakolian has a talent for making shrouded personal stories and inner lives as tangible as the flesh-and-blood people she shoots.
The 35-year-old self-taught Iranian is passionate about presenting her country to the world as it truly is, without artifice, pretence or stereotype. She started snapping at the age of 16 and came to public attention when she captured the 1999 student uprising in Tehran. Since then, she has worked with reformist newspapers and fearlessly expanded her coverage to events in countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen.
Her photos have been published by “Time Magazine”, “Newsweek”, “The New York Times”, “Der Spiegel”, “Le Monde” and “National Geographic”, while institutions like the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum and the Boston Museum of Fine Art have held exhibitions of her work.
Her complex layered narratives and strong visual vocabulary have also won her awards in prestigious photography competitions. In 2014, she was chosen as the fifth laureate of the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award. In 2015, she was named the principal laureate of the prestigious Prince Claus Award and was also chosen as a Magnum Photos nominee.
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