Hengameh Golestan: Witness 1979

As part of the 2015 Communal Knowledge programme, acclaimed Iranian photographer Hengameh Golestan presents her work in an exhibition and events programme which offers a unique opportunity to rediscover this important female photographer.

Hengameh Golestan, born in Tehran in 1952, has worked between 1974 and 1984 documenting life in Iran, in particular the lives of women and children, domestic and everyday life. For the past twenty years Golestan has lived in London as a neighbour of The Showroom, and this project, involving many photographs never seen publically before, is the outcome of a conversation that has developed over several years.

Developed and co-curated with The Showroom and artist and researcher Azadeh Fatehrad from the Royal College of Art, the project focuses on Golestan’s Iranian Revolution photographs from 1979 including her documentation of the 8th of March 1979 when more than 100,000 women came into the street to stand against the compulsory hijab ruling. Golestan photographed groups of women from every profession including nurses, students, artists and mothers, protesting on the streets of Tehran.

Unable to show these images in Tehran, photographs from the series are printed large-scale and presented informally on the walls of the gallery space and on the outside of the building. Images also take the form of archive material to be handled by gallery audiences as well as participants of the public events programme, integral to the project, which runs alongside a series of workshops with local girls’ and women’s groups.

Through a process of active engagement, this extraordinary body of work opens up in a context to allow discussion and reflection on many of the issues raised by the images including gender, protest and representation. Picking up on many of the themes familiar to The Showroom’s programme, and urgent in the world at large, the project addresses this important moment in Iranian history and its many resonances today.

The project is supported by the Royal College of Art and through The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge Programme. Communal Knowledge is supported by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The John Lyon’s Charitable Trust, City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s Charity, and The Showroom Supporters Scheme.


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