Thomas Erben is very pleased to present the first US solo exhibition by Iranian artist Newsha Tavakolian (b. 1981, Tehran). With her new series Look, she touches upon subjects both deeply personal and general, as well as political, while further developing her own visual language.
Tavakolian started her career as a self-taught photojournalist at the age of 16, and has covered wars and natural disasters, and produced photo documentaries in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon,Pakistan and Yemen. One of few female photographers in this context, she gained international success with work published in magazines and newspapers such as Time, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and National Geographic.
Over the past few years, while the conditions for her photojournalistic work in Iran became increasingly difficult, she developed several art projects - still maintaining a largely documentary style - focusing particularly on women’s issues, through projects such as Mother of Martyrs (2006) and The Day I Became a Woman (2010).
Look, Tavakolian’s most recent series, consists of staged large-scale photographs in which lone subjects are framed against a window view of high-rise buildings. All shot at the same evening hour, the images are permeated with a cold bluish note, giving them a richly cinematic quality. Seen together, the individual photographs form a collective, testifying to a mood and a condition which Tavakolian describes as follows:
"Look began with my desire to look deeply into the lives of people around me whom I have known for over ten years, and who live in my building. I wanted to bring to life the story of a nation of middle class youths who are constantly battling with themselves, their isolated conformed society, their lack of hope for the future and each of their individual stories. Over a period of six months, at 8 pm, I fixed my camera on a tripod in front of the window where I had watched the same view of the city for ten years. I tried to capture a moment of each of their stories, within the frame of a window looking out onto the cold concrete buildings which surround us daily."
Newsha Tavakolian has worked as a photographer for the Iranian press since 1997, and internationally since 2002. She was selected for the World Press Photo Masterclass and the National Geographic Society Award (2006, finalist in both); Magnum’s Inge Morath Award (2008); as well as the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (2009). Her work has been exhibited in venues such as the Chelsea Art Museum, New York (2009); Gallery Verso, Turin, and Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, (both 2010); the British Museum (2012); and The Victoria and Albert Museum (2013). The Fifth Pillar, her first book, was published by Gilgamesh Publishing House in 2012. She will be included in forthcoming exhibitions at LACMA and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Tavakolian’s photographs were first exhibited at Thomas Erben in 2010. She lives and works in Tehran.