Hoda Ashfar - Art Forum

Staged images and reality

explores nature and possibilities of documenary image making

representations of gender, marginality and displacement

employs processes that play with traditions of image making and presentation

Teaches in the Masters Program

Lens based artist - photography and moving image

Staging realities or constructed documentary

Earlier works in Iran prior to migration

Born in Tehran after Islamic revolution after 1983

An intense period after revolution, from quite westernised kingdom to a quite islamic institution

Everything learnt was through the images of the country before the revolution and the one after

Two worlds one inside the home and a different one that needed to be conformed to outside of the home

New Islamic culture and religion taught to them through photography

Only one way of showing Iran

couldn’t show people partying together or such

The images of martyrs of the country formed the collective identity of the country, whenever Iran visited again Hodar looks for them and photographs them

The way of living that was never portrayed to the world

Hodar was the first gen of satellites tv, smuggled in

a fascination with tv showing outside world

The way Iranians are portrayed to the world was only one way.

First photo works were documenting underground parties and documenting these moments that couldn’t be shown

But the camera is like a weapon

Friends trust, staging with the friends these stories and narratives

Started out doing fine art photography, but then realised a passion for story telling and documentary

Inspired by photographers but there were no women doing that

Spent time with a mother and daughter who were prostituting themselves as they were so poor

The idea of how close can you get with the photograph and documenting, and staging some images, with them and their clients, and they just went along with that

Commission by World Press photography

Looking at the society from a new perspective

Morning for a Matyr

The theatricality of all the works

Interested in the way people present themselves and to the camera, and in the street.

Migrated to Australia and tried to make images but the surface of the society was very different, and the lack of historical/emotional connection was difficult, and a struggle with identity as well.

Struggle with racism and misunderstanding about identity

Before even an introduction that people were projecting an idea of who they think you are

The lease turned towards the self

Challenge ideas around misrepresentation, and mirror back who they think I am and how they see me

Challenge the audience by creating a confused image of the muslim woman that uses many layers of orientalist imagery etc

A return to documentary imaging a relationship to the image maker and how the images function in the world

Was invited by close friends, young gay friend who went to this secret underground bath house, they invited Hodar there, and took them inside, paid for the day

Didn’t know if it was safe but got to take photos of the friends there

What is sayable?

What is visible?

What is audible?

How can artists disrupt this process by changing how we see the world

What is the norm to us is what has been made visible?

On the news, detailed reports on America, London etc…

Who has the platform to present

Thinking about the pandemic, what’s happening in America?

No one talks about what’s happening in Yemen, or South Africa?

Subverting normal ways of being,

By giving people a platform by making them visible

And giving  a visibility to these unshorn places

Behold: CCP 2017 Didn’t disclose the location of the place to privilege the intimacy of the bodies

An anecdote about if the images were of women it would have been more acceptable.

Using the camera to make visible what has been made invisible for centuries

Citizens stripped of basic human rights - Georgio Gamin-?

Manus Island series:

Trying to understand marginality

The refugee as the ultimate marginalised subject

Trying to understand this matter

The Australian government closed the detention

1400 men caged on Manus island, relocating them to new centers but leaving them permanently on Manus Island

What can I do to help? As an artist I have a small platform and i can see if i can help

Wondering what does it take people to act?

What happened that we became immune to the suffering of others?

They seek safety, but get more adversity, given food and water in a cage

Systems, of treating refugees

democratic systems and societies

I decided to go to manus island to challenge modes of representation

To try and make people see the refugees as equal to themselves and not less

Video installation made on manus

Remain 2018 The beauty of the island was so jarring with the horror the people has faced

Nature can turn into a prison

A green hell

To what level humans can be traumatised to hate nature

The nature spots also a site of trauma

Also a series of portraits

6 refugees being smuggled out everyday

Making food cooking there together

Deciding how to portray that

Bevus Buchany

All the portraits were made in collaboration together

How can we make the passive image of a refugee and create images that were activated somehow

Portraits of Ari Sirwan 2018

Portraits of Edris 2018

asked the subjects to choose something that represents their emotions the best

Stories behind the refuges

Portrait of Behrouz Boochani 2018


Photo 2021 festival -

Agonistes 2019-2020

Thinking about close environment

Australians who worked on Manus Island and Naru were not allowed to tell what happened on the island

Investigated into that

Couldn’t believe that in a Liberal Democratic society that could happen

Used close cropping as a way of protecting/hiding identities

They try to tell

The tragic figure standing between morality and the law

This time, how can i use photography to make people invisible

Western Society struggle is how to become invisible

Trying to take a 3D scanning image process to try and make something similar to a Greek traditional sculpture, but also reveal the blindness of the society

Conclusion - Relationship to image making

There is something in images, their proximity close to the real world, and political, visible, equality and an ability to draw someone in and make them care about a matter, if the image is merely an abstraction of reality it is not

Images can draw viewers in

A fairer and more equal world through images

Questions: Kia

Do you believe artists can manipulate social sculpture, (structure?) and eventually contribute to a big change in humanity, and how can that be measured?

Answer: change is incremental

Little steps, what has been constructed by imperialism and colonialism cannot be undone in one or two images, we have to mass produce them