Paralleling the exhibition's end run around the U.S. sanction, one set of photographs seems to question authority. Bahman Jalali's masterful digital photographs (right) show faint black-and-white portraits of dignified, dreamy men and women. They are veiled by the semitransparent overlay of a censor's violent painted red scrawl. The areas of red that overlie the subjects' faces, hands, and bodies intensify their faint features to a more distinct, color-saturated resolution. This effect suggests that censorship unwittingly emphasizes the subjects it seeks to occlude. The photos also suggest the abiding strength, poise, and serenity of the subjects despite violent oppression.
Shahriar Tavakoli's portraits of his family catch them in everyday moments, against an inky all-black background. The drama of his illuminated figures against darkness makes iconic the quotidian scenes of a family dinner, a dad sleeping on a couch or reading to a child, or a mom preparing a tray of what appear to be yellow desserts.
More representations are found in the gravestone portraits photographed by Arman Stepanian. Among the photographs of the deceased affixed to tombstones is one that shows a hole defacing a woman's face, revealing the pitted, blank back of the picture frame. Another gravestone photo showing a young girl in a white dress is accompanied by a fresh, dead goldfish laid carefully on the stone ledge underneath. Chalked or crayoned childish drawings of flowers, red and blue flying birds, and yellow stars appear on either side, drawn upon the gravestone.
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