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
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 -
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
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