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The Photo Issue 2019

Sheida Soleimani Combines Photography with Sculpture, Collage, and Film with Surprising Results

In our annual photo issue, Sheida Soleimani shares new work inspired by Iran’s oil production.

This portfolio appears in VICE Magazine's 2019 Photo Issue. With this issue we wanted to celebrate the absurd, the lighthearted, and the humorous. It’s important to take a break from the real world. As much as we need to be informed, engaged, and aware, we also need to laugh. We wanted to champion the people making art with a sense of humor. In today’s climate, there’s something nicely subversive about that. You can read more about our theme in the letter from our editor.


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Sheida Soleimani, an Iranian-American artist based in Providence, Rhode Island, combines photography with sculpture, collage, and film to highlight her critical perspectives on historical and contemporary socio-political occurrences. She is especially interested in the space where art and activism intersect and how social media shapes political affairs and uprisings across the world. Her work has been featured in exhibitions and publications such as Artforum, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Interview, and more.

There’s a kind of dark humor present in Soleimani’s work so we thought she’d be a perfect addition to this year’s humor-themed photo issue. She created a new image for us titled “Iran Heavy,” which is the name of a crude oil blend. Soleimani said the still life “represents objects made from crude oils—weights, bubblegum—along with a satellite image of Kharg Island in Iran, where this specific crude oil blend is exported from. The main export from that area, besides oil, is fish, and I thought having the fish blow a bubble would give it a cynical/humorous twist.” The photo is part of a new series she’s working on called “Crudes,” and the images featured here are a mix of photos from that series along with selects from her previous project “Medium of Exchange.”