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Photography

An Iranian Expat's Striking Photos Bridge Zurich and Tehran

Persian artist Shirana Shahbazi’s first comprehensive retrospective is about a life spent manipulating the colors of reality.

by Sami Emory
18 April 2017, 12:01am

© Shirana Shahbazi

Still lives, landscapes, and geometric compositions generally depict experiences of objective beauty—pretty things without personality. But that's not the case in the work of photographer Shirana Shahbazi. First Things First is a retrospective of the artist's work at the KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art, a converted brewery in Berlin. The show lays out a lifetime spent turning generic subjects into ruminations on place, sense of self, and time.

Most often, the Iranian-born photographer achieves this through the exaggerated manipulation of color. Two-tone lithograph prints, documenting her trips back and forth from her birthplace of Tehran to her home in Zurich, seem a literal black and white metaphor for her duality of belonging. A shot of the windblown hair of a woman, taken from the back and highlighted with red, could be a representation of the essence of the subject's personality or simply an appreciation for the unappreciated saturation of color in the everyday. Or both.

Shirana Shahbazi, [Haare], 2014, Two-colored lithography on Zerkall Bütten paper, 67 x 87 cm / 26 3/8 x 34 1/4 in. © Shirana Shahbazi

Shahbazi encourages ambiguity. She tells Creators she entered the medium through an interest in journalism: she wanted to document life in precise ways to tell a story. However, as she delved deeper into the craft, she found that it came with a multitude of "questions, problems, and misunderstandings." Photography, she realized, is "very imprecise, although it pretends to be the opposite."

Shirana Shahbazi: First Things First Exhibition at KINDL's Power House (second floor, M2) © Jens Ziehe, 2017

Shirana Shahbazi, [Klausenpass-01-2011], Gelatin silver print on aluminum © Shirana Shahbazi

Shirana Shahbazi, [Palme], 2014, Two-colored lithography on Zerkall Bütten paper, 122 x 94 cm / 48 x 37 in. © Shirana Shahbazi

Shirana Shahbazi: First Things First Exhibition at KINDL's Power House (second floor, M2) © Jens Ziehe, 2017

For more information on First Things First, which runs at the Berlin gallery until August 6 of this year, check out KINDL's website.


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